The Shyness Project

Only Seeing the Tip of the Iceberg

There was a deep and honest discussion today in 6th period that ended up continuing all period.  Apparently an event called “Challenge Day” occurred yesterday and two of the students in our class had participated in it and were reporting back.  Basically about 100 students were selected and they each had to talk about their troubles and things that were going on in their life that others probably didn’t know about but would help others understand you better.  The boys reported that everyone thought it was kind of a joke at first but after a while they realized it was serious and learned more about why some people act the way the do, especially some of the meaner people they didn’t get along with before.  They learned why they might act mean and more about what was going on underneath the personality they displayed to others.

Our teacher drew a picture of an iceberg on the whiteboard and sectioned off a really tiny piece at the top and said that was the part we showed to others, our personality.  The rest, the majority of ourselves, was underneath the surface and was what he considered to be our character.  Most of us show very little of our true selves and we are mostly judged on that teeny portion that is above the surface.

The boys said the biggest message they wanted to share was to be open-minded about others because you don’t know what they’re going through underneath the surface.  They talked about name calling a bit and labels a while too.  Our teacher had us raise our hands if we’d ever been talked down to or called something you didn’t like by a guy, and then by a girl, and nearly everyone raised their hands for both.  He explained why people do that and why they call you something you don’t like or pick on you.  He said if you’re the one being picked on, then the others in that group join in because they think “at least we’re safe” and at least the focus isn’t on them.

I can definitely see that being true and I thought of my 6th grade experience where I was the one being singled out and picked on by the group I was with.  The people in that group didn’t want to be the one targeted so once one of them started picking on me the others added to it and continued it all year. They were really just acting out of insecurity though if you think about it, and it wouldn’t have mattered what I did or what I liked or how I acted, they still probably would have done the same to me for the purpose of making themselves feel safe.  One of the girls who was a part of that group and the one who did the most betrayal and hurt to me is in that class awkwardly enough, and I glanced at her when the teacher was talking about that and wondered if she was thinking of how she had acted that way in middle school.  It’s hard to tell though because she acts like nothing ever happened between us and I never got any sort of admittance about it or an apology.  But oh well, I’ve moved on.

Another thing the boys brought up was compliments actually.  At the challenge day event the instructor was telling people to compliment pretty girls or something like that instead of seeing a pretty girl and making assumptions about her that she is a slut or whatever else people often think.  This sparked a debate and one girl said that she would not want to compliment a pretty girl especially if she knew she was pretty because she wouldn’t want to fill her head with air and she doesn’t like cocky people.  Another girl said she would compliment a pretty girl.  Then one guy brought up that if you compliment one girl and tell her she’s pretty but then don’t compliment the girls next to her then it can hurt their feelings, so he thinks it would be better to not compliment them at all otherwise you’d have to compliment everyone then and tell them that they’re all pretty.  It was an interesting and lengthy discussion. After class I walked out with the same guy and a few other of our classmates and we talked about the compliment thing some more.  I said to avoid the hurt feelings it would probably be best to compliment peope’s outfits or things they do well on rather than complimenting their personal looks.  If someone is wearing a fancier top or did really well on a test or something it’s easier to compliment that than something more general, and if there are others around it’s probably good to try and think of some nice things to say to them too.  One girl said that she dressed up nice one time and her friend dressed up nice too, but only her friend got compliments all day and no one said anything to her, so she felt kind of hurt and felt that she looked nice too.  So compliments can be tricky I suppose, but I think the main thing to remember is to be aware of others and try to spread the love so people don’t feel left out.

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6 thoughts on “Only Seeing the Tip of the Iceberg

  1. Patti on said:

    That’s a good thought to take away from it all, I think. Compliments remain tricky throughout life. People can misinterpret them, be suspicious of them, be jealous of them – even if they’re 50 years old. What remains important is sincerity and really caring about people.

    • Very true, being thoughtful and aware of others is key and even if your compliment is misinterpreted or taken the wrong way at least you know that you meant it sincerely. Thanks for commenting Patti! 🙂

  2. lawyerchik1 on said:

    I agree with Patti.

    I heard something a couple of years ago that has stayed with me to this day: “Always be kind, because everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” (Plato).

    Have a great weekend, Brittany!! 🙂

    • Thanks for the quote, I like it! It’s something we all need to keep in mind before we are too judgmental or hard on a person.

      Thank you Cheryl, have a wonderful weekend too! 🙂

  3. I LOVE this post! I have heard of Challenge Day…there was a show on MTV this past year….I forget now what it was called but it was ALL about Challenge Day and had taped it at different high schools and showing how it had impacted the schools. I remember watching it on TV and thinking, I wish Challenge Day had happened at MY school when I was younger. I feel like it MAY have been a difference in how some people had treated me back then. I’m so glad to hear that it is happening NOW though and I hope it can help someone else that went through what I did. If Challenge Day can help even one person, then it’s worth it.

    • Thanks Sharon!! 🙂 I didn’t know it was a show until today during lunch when my friend told me so! It sounds like a pretty cool program, too bad the whole school couldn’t have done something like that instead of just 100, but it is expensive. It seems to have made a good impact and I think it’s important. Most people only see very little of others and I think when people see that others have problems and a lot of things underneath the surface it makes us think twice about how they look at them or treat them. Hopefully it allows people to be more sympathetic and understanding. I would hope that it would help with reducing bullying in schools too.

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