13 Reasons Why is Intense
13 Reasons Why, is a series about a high school student, who just can’t take it anymore. Before committing suicide, she records 13 messages for the people, she believes, contributed to her pain. The series explores the reactions to the messages and the changes her (false) friends make in their lives.
Spit Wads and a Kick-Me Sign
When I was a teenager, I got in trouble and did some stupid things. I was a mean girl, but I was also a nice girl. There was a brief period of time, one semester when I got bullied. I was 13 and had moved to a new school for the last semester of junior high.
The taunting started almost immediately. New school. No power base. I knew no one. After awhile, I went quiet. The bullies were winning and I didn’t understand why I had been singled out.
But, I survived that semester. My grades were fine. I made zero friends. I was an outsider. People threw spit wads at me. Often. Someone really did put a “kick me” sign on my back. Another kid was kind enough to take it off. I didn’t know why people were laughing at me.
I was ashamed.
It didn’t occur to me to ask for help. I somehow thought I should be able to handle it myself. Nothing like that had ever happened to me at my old school.
But, I wasn’t an angel either. During grammar school, I got sent to the Office for punishment more times than I can remember. That’s because I wasn’t very clever about my bullying. I always got caught.
Some of the kids from junior high were so excited to see me that first day of high school. Why? Did I get better-looking? Being taller makes me suddenly cool? Hmmph!
We had some conversations and I told them what would happen if they bothered me. High School was new for them too. I made sure they knew, I wasn’t getting pushed around anymore. Hah!
I was in a safe environment. I went to high school on a military base. Everything was ordered and structured. My dad controlled my behavior by telling me that I wouldn’t live to see another day, if the Officer in Charge ever questioned him about having teenagers he couldn’t control.
“How can I ask you to control soldiers, if you can’t control your children?”
That was efficient and effective. It kept me from getting deep into trouble. But, I was still a teenager. I did stupid stuff. And so did all the other kids.
From Neutral, You Can Watch and Learn
I think what changed for me was, I felt ready to respond. I didn’t start anything, but I leapt in to defend myself anytime, someone wanted to pull some Eddie crap with me. I’ve always been a good counter-puncher.
As in, the first time I ever danced at a party. I did not know how to dance at all. Of course, a group of girls started laughing at me.
Still doing my herky-jerky dance moves, I said, “Oh, you don’t like how I’m dancing. You think it’s funny? Well, I see no one asked you to dance. You’re sitting on the couch with the other wallflowers.”
My judo flip worked! I used their collective power against them. They stopped laughing.
I returned to concentrating on learning how to look less stupid, dancing.
Probably, no curse words were used. Lol! I always think it’s more creative to tell someone to eff off with proper language. Especially, if they have to look the words up to discover how they’ve been insulted.
High school. The play is the same, only the actors are different. Boys can be cruel. They get away with stuff — double standards exist. Girls can be worse than boys.
High school really hasn’t changed that much. Yes, word gets round faster and pranks are more cruel. But unfortunately, nothing that happened in the 13 episodes of the Netflix series called, 13 Reasons Why, was that unusual.
What I learned from watching ’13 Reasons Why’
OK, here we go. There are no spoilers here.
- Pretender! Clay lies…a lot. Casually, elegantly, effectively and efficiently. He lies to his parents, to himself, to his classmates, to Hannah, to her parents. No one escapes being lied to. He is such a good liar, he gets caught in his own traps. Long before episode 13, Clay got on my nerves with all his lies. I started to feel disconnected from him. Telling lies is a passive bullying tactic.
- Stop pretending! Get in action. Don’t cave in on yourself. If you’re pretending to be fine — and you are not fine, you are the liar. You are choosing to isolate yourself. Get out of the audience (watching yourself) and get on the court (get back in your body). Making you feel isolated, is how the bully wins.
- Your Cornermen – Situation Analysis: At some point, when your problem is beyond your ability — and the combined ability of your friends — to solve, it’s time to bring in the parents and other people. Who can help? Reinforcements! The calvary! Your super-heroes!
- Who is in your corner? If guys are roughing you up, it won’t stop. It will get more terrifying. Get help! You need someone to stand up for you.
- Talk to someone who can support you: Parents tune out their kids because they’re too busy and distracted to listen. Kids tune out when their parents talk to them. That doesn’t mean, when the conversation turns serious, no one is listening. Not telling the truth when asked — or withholding important information — is you, punishing them. Ultimately, you punish yourself. Yes, your parents have seen enough bad situations to help you figure out how to survive the situation you’re in. Give them a chance. Shaming is a weapon. Don’t let the bullies win.
- Broken Agreement – Tough Love: When someone attacks you or harms you, it’s not your fault. You didn’t do anything to deserve it. Some people are like sharks. They don’t know what else to do except attack and eat whatever is in their path. Learn from your experience with them. Do not get lulled into a false sense of complacency. Bullies pick on their friends too. When it’s your turn, you won’t like it. Bullies expect people to make agreements with them. But when they decide to attack, they won’t honor the “trust me” agreement with you. Never drop your guard around people who find it funny to cause harm.
- Impending Doom: Acting like you can handle the situation is naive. And another bad habit that ends up with you alone, with a massive problem that is out of control. Behaving this way is called being Grandiose. In the game called DramaGuru, you acting alone is grandiose, meaning you are attacking yourself with a problem that is too big for you.
- The Turncoat: Don’t go along with things that aren’t cool, especially when you know they’re not cool. This is about Justin, who laughingly protested, but is guilty of introducing the crude photo and allowing it to be shared. He behaved like a traitor to Hannah.
- Friendly Fire Attack: If you think people have stopped listening to you, consider what you’ve been saying to them. If your conversation is just a load of redirecting, deflecting and automatic answers, then don’t expect people to go out of their way to dredge your deepest thoughts out of you. Do your part! Stay connected. Otherwise, people will feel as if you are pushing them away.
- Accidental Sharp Elbow: Just because a guy is popular doesn’t mean he gets to walk all over you…or grab your ass, if you don’t want him to. This one gets complicated because it happens fast. Push back. Get witnesses. Start talking!
- The Creepy Wally: Being cyber-bullied is shaming in real time with permission and agreement. Outsiders vs Insiders: You won’t always fit in. People use words as weapons. Make sure you are the kind of friend who sticks up for people. When the keyboard warriors head in your direction, you’ll have people on your side, ready for retaliative action. Doesn’t mean you stoop to their level. It does mean that preparation will take some of the fear out of the situation. Be prepared!
- Create a Game Plan: Get proof. If something is going on, use the time you usually spend on social media to analyze your situation and figure out a remedy. When people conspire against you, what will you do?
- Interrupt the Pattern, Change the Game: If you’ve decided to hide, don’t expect people to come and find you. Everyone is busy with the life God gave them. What special gift did you get from God? Nothing? Seriously? God sent you to earth with no gift? Spend time trying to figure out what gift you got, instead of worrying about other people’s nonsense. Keep looking. You’ll find it.
In the end, 13 reasons to speak your truth.
Stop telling lies. Just, stop. If you keep telling lies, eventually, people will stop listening to you. They won’t believe you, even when you’re telling the truth. And then, you really will be all alone.
You need safe space.
Get connected! Find places where you feel powerful, where you have friends, where you feel loved. Yes, that place is out there. Stop brooding and get busy helping other people by volunteering. Even if, none of your current friends are interested, find something fun to do that fascinates you
You have a choice!
In real life, it’s awkward to find the words to say what you’re feeling. When you get that overwhelmed, when you feel that much shame, you need a lifeline. Find someone who can help you get to neutral. And then make a good decision. Protect yourself. Take care of yourself. Don’t kill yourself…with words or actions. Someone needs you, whole and healthy.
And besides, now that you’ve faced your darkest days, you can help someone else navigate through their pain…to make sure they come out smiling on the other end.
Practice Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) for your mouth. This article is a black belt DramaGuru lesson.
13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons
Orange DramaGuru VW bug, original photo by Dan Gold, Unsplash Dan Gold
Girl with orange VW bug by Joao Silas, Unsplash João Silas
Dramaguru cards designed by Cheryl Ragsdale.