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 Post subject: So I have this situation at school...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:32 am 
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Memorized Veganomicon

Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2012 3:33 pm
Posts: 96
Location: In the cold north
Hi everybody

So, I have a really bad day today and I could use some vegan strength. I am doing my last year on a mandatory education plan and I feel like a complete alien. I know I am a bit older than most students there and we don't have the same life pilosophy but it's so hard to not get really upset and down from a day at school. Everybody talks about how bad they want meat for lunch (the school is a vegetarian, environmental friendly one) and about their boyfriends or enemies. I am the only vegan at school and I prefer to study inbetween classes.

Now you're probably going to say that "hey, it's not that bad!" and "but you only have one year left!" but I'm getting really depressed here and I have no idea in what state my mental health is going to be at the end of this year.
I feel so over these kinds of problems but obviously I'm still affected by the group dynamic.

Is there anyone out there that can provide a solution or just some hint on how to make things easier or maybe any idea about what I'm doing wrong? I have absolutely no desire in being their best friend but I would love to at least feel accepted. Or to get the strenght to just give a horses asparagus to what the others think. Leaving this school is not an option, I have to complete my education.

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 Post subject: Re: So I have this situation at school...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:49 am 
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Vegan Vegan Vegan Vegan Vegan
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Wow! That's wonderful that there's a school with a vegetarian/environmental focus. (I'd be curious to know what it is, but don't want to push for details if you'd rather it remain anonymous.) Too bad the others can't think about more interesting topics to talk about. How old (ish) are the other students? That info. would help me brainstorm strategies for dealing with this - teenagers and adults respond to different approaches. Are they being sincere in their meat desires, or just sarcastic? Are there counselors/advisor types to whom you can raise your concerns, if not about the atmosphere in general, then at least your own response to it?

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 Post subject: Re: So I have this situation at school...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:59 am 
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Semen Strong
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Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 7:10 pm
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Location: Cliffbar NJ
How much older are you? I did a study abroad program in France and the French students were just starting 18 year olds and we were in our mid-20s, so it was hard to find much in common with them. Instead, we ended up making friends with the T.A.s and older students.

Is that an option for you?

Also, is there any counseling/support available through your school? Sometimes just having one person to go to and brainstorm with can make a big difference.

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 Post subject: Re: So I have this situation at school...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:11 am 
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Memorized Veganomicon

Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2012 3:33 pm
Posts: 96
Location: In the cold north
Thank you so much for your concern! The school's in Sweden, it's a Waldorf school. I've have so much trouble with finishing my education (ADHD is seldom helpful in a constantly social environment...) so I chose the most alternative place I could find. I think the other students are really serious with wanting their meat (come on, it's ONE meal, it's free and it's organic!!), despite that they chose their school most of them are frightingly narrow-sighted. Most of them are about to turn 17-18 and I'm 19 years old but I've always been an old soul... never been comfortable with people my own age.

I have a really great teacher I talk to, mostly because of my ADHD issues, but actually sent her an email about all this.

I think my biggest problem is that I don't want to be a burden or to kill the mood. So, I'm a bit surprised by myself, I talk to complete strangers about myself in this way!

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 Post subject: Re: So I have this situation at school...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:12 am 
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Memorized Veganomicon

Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2012 3:33 pm
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Location: In the cold north
Oh and Tofulish, I'm like the oldest student at my school...

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 Post subject: Re: So I have this situation at school...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:15 am 
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Semen Strong
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Location: Cliffbar NJ
You know, I just want to say that life does get a lot better after high school, especially for those of us who don't really fit in. And it ends up being so cool to escape and find your own voice and place in the world, outside the tight confines of school. And of course it is funny to look back to my school classmates 20+ years later and see that they felt the same odd out-of-placeness that I did. I think it might be the nature of high school, and yes having ADHD is definitely an added challenge.

I hope you find support - more than just your teacher - maybe a guidance counselor or school mental health professional? Its nice to have a few people to go to, especially those who may know more about how to manage your particular challenges with ADHD. And post here often - its a great refuge for people!

Good luck!

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 Post subject: Re: So I have this situation at school...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:36 am 
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Helix wrote:
I've always been an old soul... never been comfortable with people my own age.

This was me for the longest time. In my teens I felt that I related better to my teachers and the parents of my peers than I did to people my own age. Now, in my 30s, I feel like I can relate better to teens than I did when I was one. I now have friends of a very wide range of ages, but I still feel like I get along best with the other misfits and outsiders of the world. So, I don't have a lot of advice, just to say that I can relate to your experience, and as tough as it is, life really does get better after your teens and high school. And, that is so cool that you go to a school with all vegetarian lunches and an environmental focus!

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 Post subject: Re: So I have this situation at school...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:52 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2010 7:56 pm
Posts: 960
Location: Baltimore
I also constantly feel a bit out of place and more mature than most of my peers. I'm getting ready to graduate fairly soon, so of course I feel like I'm starting to move on from school, while others are not in that same place. Still, while I don't connect with the majority of my peers (and I never have- I've never been good with social relationships), I have gradually formed a small group of friends who I feel shares my point of view. You might not find these people at your school. Maybe you can find some clubs or activities outside of school, with slightly older adults who share your interests? Or maybe you'll only be able to find them online, but there are definitely people out there who share the same perspectives that you do (like the PPK!).

There's not a lot I can say that will help. I can tell you that it will get better, but that won't help you right now. All I can say is that I would be your friend if I were there, and remember that just because you don't fit in doesn't mean you won't ever fit in or that there's something wrong with you.

Hang in there. Try to find a counselor if your school offers those services.


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 Post subject: Re: So I have this situation at school...
PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:00 am 
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This is basically the exact same situation I was in my last year of high school. Here are some things that were helpful to me; maybe they'll be helpful to you too.

-I didn't try to "fit in" and act like I was in the same stage of life as my classmates. I just did my thing my own way, and if people wanted to be friends with me, they would come to me, but I didn't push it trying to "act" like them in order to make things "easier" socially.
-I basically designed my own curriculum to fulfill my graduation requirements. I found allies among the faculty and persuaded them to help me implement this. So I found ways to complete the requirements that fit with my interests, which made school more interesting and engaging for me.
-I got an internship, for which I got academic credit. My school actually had a program specifically to allow qualified students to do this; but if yours doesn't, maybe you could work it out individually. My internship was in a special ed classroom; other students got placements such as working in an art museum or apprenticing with a professional photographer.
-I found ways to integrate my enthusiasm for veganism and animal rights activism into my curriculum. I got permission to do a project where the health and science teachers could opt to have me lead a workshop for them on veganism, and most of them did. I also brought vegan food to school with me a lot, so if people were like "ew, veganism, what do you even eat?" I could be like "look at this delicious thing that I have!"
-I found other misfits to be friends with. I joined the Gay/Straight Alliance and made some friends there. Some of them were a lot younger than me. Didn't matter. I also had friends outside of school, and friends on the internet. Basically, I didn't try to rely on the population of my classes for friends.
-I identified faculty members with whom I could regularly check in. I had a guidance counselor I trusted and good relationships with a couple of my teachers. Sometimes I needed to check in with someone daily. If that's what I needed to do to finish school, that's what I did.
-I kept in mind the reason why I was doing this: I wanted to graduate so I could go to college somewhere far, far away from where I was living at the time, and I wanted to prove to myself and everyone who didn't believe that I would graduate that I could do it. Is there something you're looking forward to doing after you graduate, some motivating factor that's pulling you toward the finish line? It was really helpful to me to have that.

If you want to talk more about this, feel free to PM me or something...I've been there, I know it's hard, and if I can help in any way, I'd be happy to do so.

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 Post subject: Re: So I have this situation at school...
PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:53 pm 
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Sorry to hear about your troubles. High school can be awkward enough even if you're the same age as everybody else! I totally understand though... I too felt like an "old soul" in high school, and it was harder for me to make meaningful friendships.

My best suggestion for you is to think about what interests you, and pursue those interests outside of school. Perhaps there is a local vegan or vegetarian group you can get involved with? Or if not, there are lots of other activities that attract people from a broad range of ages. For example, a friend of mine joined chess and Go clubs when he was that age, and there were lots of adults there. Check websites like meetup.com or bulletin boards. Or if you can't find anything like that locally, work on a hobby and network through the internet! Make new recipes, write a novel, learn a new language etc. There are lots of people all over the world who have the same interests as you (like this site!) You might even get to meet some of them in person someday. :)

As for your schoolmates, they just sound sort of childish, and you aren't doing anything wrong. Be yourself! And be as nice to your classmates as you can. If they don't want to include you then they're the weirdos, not you. And I would at least give everybody a chance... some of the most enduring friendships I've had with people from that time in my life were the most unlikely. It does get better, so hang in there.


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 Post subject: Re: So I have this situation at school...
PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 1:09 pm 
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I went to a Waldorf school for a while. I'm guessing if yours is anything like mine was the class sizes are a lot smaller than in many schools, and I think that can make things more difficult in that there are less people to form groups according to interest, so if the majority are of the conforming type they're going to try extra hard to be part of the group think. You might be surprised in a few years to meet some of your present classmates and see how much some of them will change!

Are there any extra-curricular groups you'd be interested in joining? I seem to remember older classes were always putting on plays, but we also used to have people staying late finishing art and craft projects.

If it hadn't seemed like most of the people in my class were massive jerks I would have enjoyed the curriculum and in some ways I feel sad I was forced to leave the school. I hope you can find a way to make it work for you.

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