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When someone says "I don't care what X thinks of me", 9 times out of 10 they mean "I don't care if X likes me." They do still care if X *respects* them.

Everyone wants to be respected - that shouldn't surprise anyone. But the connection I just made explains why it hurts so damn much when someone looks down on you, even (especially!) someone you dislike.

When you come home from school crying because the kids were teasing you again, you're told that you shouldn't care what they think. It's made to seem so easy. But teasing, at least schoolkid-style teasing, strongly implies lack of respect, and is actually a thinly veiled way of ordering status. Not reacting to teasing means that you're accepting your place at the bottom of the pack. No wonder it's so hard to do.

When I was in 4th grade, I convinced my classmates I was from another planet (no, really). I thrived on that, because even though they thought I was a weirdo it was a kind of respect. Far better than the girl in 6th grade who manipulated me into starting a fight with a boy who had made fun of her, and then laughed when I got beaten up. To her, I was entertainment at best, a one-use plaything.

So the question is, how do you make someone respect you? What does incur respect? An interesting thought experiment is to think of people close to you - a list of qualities you like in them will probably come to mind fairly easily, but what do you *respect* them for?

(and to anyone who might be wondering, this wasn't spurred by any particular recent events - just some thoughts wandering through my head.)


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 26th, 2002 09:08 am (UTC)
I was going to post a reply to this, but it got all insightful and detailed and long and full of ponderings, so I made it into a journal entry instead.

Thanks for the thought topic. :)
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 26th, 2002 09:37 am (UTC)
Hmmm, I tried the - don't respond to teasing thing. And I honestly didn't care what most of my peers thought. But in my experience if you don't get upset when they tease you, then they beat you up to get a reaction. It was the worst strategy I ever got from adults, and I was much better off once I abandoned it, and started trying to find ways to give bullies what they wanted in ways that didn't involve me being physically assaulted.
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 26th, 2002 10:07 am (UTC)
Well, high school was much too late. I was fine in high school as most of my peers had become more or less civilized. Middle School was also great, as they thought social ostracism was the best way to torture people; I was ecstatic. And by then I'd learned how to entertain my peers and myself by mocking them in ways they wouldn't understand.

For me it was from age 3.5 to about 10 that was the real problem. And at those ages most of the kids were fairly direct and physical about their cruelness. They didn't have the imagination for subtler forms.
Jun. 26th, 2002 08:15 pm (UTC)
How do you make someone respect you?
In my opinion, by being yourself. Like attracts like in alot of cases and I can honestly say that none of my freinds would like to get out of a situation. Granted, they like to present things as nice and easy as can be while I just bulldoze on in. Both have their ups and downs but the end product is the same. Other then that, you cant make anyone respect you.

It was not until I was well out of highschool that I learned this one. I think it was the summer after my softomore year of college that I started to hear about how people respected me. One of them was a follower from a group that teased me all the time. He told me he was impressed that once I decided who I was and what I stood for, I did not change to make friends or follow a fad.
Jun. 26th, 2002 09:35 am (UTC)
heh. When i was in sixth grade my friend and I spent the whole year pretending we were from another planet. We even did a class project on it.

I have a theory that you can respect someone you don't love, but you can't love someone you don't respect. Respect is important.
Jun. 26th, 2002 09:39 am (UTC)
you can respect someone you don't love, but you can't love someone you don't respect.

Ooh, I like that one. I completely agree.
Jun. 26th, 2002 10:13 am (UTC)
respect and n'at
Respect... People sometimes say to me "Why do you treat me the way you do? You don't like me or something? Why don't you have any respect for me?" And my reply usually is simple: "You don't respect yourself, you don't respect others, how can you expect others to respect you." But many people equalize respect with being a serious adult concept. I disagree with that. In college I was respected for my beer guzzling abilities. The respect was earned on a system of values that deviated from the standart society's norms, but that was accepted by the people in question. Respect yourself first however. Approach everything you do with commitment. If you are a garbage man be the best garbage man you can be, if you are a graphic designer be the most creative one you can be. Set your own standards. Even if your standards aren't the same as other people's if they see your dedication to your commitments, they will respect you.
Jun. 26th, 2002 08:13 pm (UTC)
When I was in 4th grade, I convinced my classmates I was from another planet (no, really). I thrived on that, because even though they thought I was a weirdo it was a kind of respect.

This is the kind of respect tactic that quite a few people in my set of friends used in high school. I think perhaps it comes from a mentality that accepts that you're at the bottom of the pecking order, but decides to use that fact in your favor. A kind of respect that you garner from spite. :) But it worked; after all, no one fucked with the kid wearing leather moccasins, a black cloak and a pentagram. It must've worked on the teachers as well since I ended up with the art and drama departments under my thumb! It also got me voted "Most Unique" at one point, as well. Heh.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


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Heather Keith Freeman
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