Dear Diary

October 10, 2012

What are we doing here?


I had written about a page of my in-class essay before I drew an X through it all and ripped it out of my notebook. I was in my freshman seminar class, and all I had to do was write a couple of paragraphs on what had resonated with me from a speech I had attended the week before. A guy had written a book that we were all required to read, and he spoke about football and the state of politics. I had listened attentively and had plenty of thoughts about it. But I just couldn’t figure out what I wanted to say.

I was the last one in the classroom, trying to get something down about whether citizens have the power to discourage things like hateful political ads that appeal to emotions rather than reason. I was just finishing up when the professor started to say, “Katherine, I know—” I interrupted her by apologizing and trying to explain that I was almost done. I started to write faster. She said that it wasn’t about that. I stopped writing.

She told me that I hardly ever spoke in class, but she wished that I would. She said she knew I had something to say—that she could see it in my eyes or something. She used the word “mischievous” at least once. Then she said, “You don’t think like they do.”

I agree with a lot of things my classmates say, and I disagree sometimes too, but the only three times I’ve spoken up I talked about Riot Grrrl, a Billy Collins poem, and the brick wall/waterfall chant. But my teacher’s analysis made me uneasy. I might see one or two things differently, but I don’t have some alien way of thinking that will shock the world.

After talking with her a few days later, I realize that she means I’m much more liberal than many of my classmates, and that she thought class discussion could be more interesting if someone offered a different viewpoint every once in a while. Her last statement made me worry that there was a great divide between me and the other students. I don’t want to feel this way.

This has happened before. In my senior year of high school, I had to take a religion class. The course was called Christian Dynamics, and discussion tended to be about students’ personal feelings about their faith, or about applying faith to real-world issues. I never spoke in class until my teacher approached me about it and told me that participation was part of the grade. So I started talking, often disagreeing with something we had read. This led to other kids trying to pick fights with me. One kid made it his mission to convert me. He asked me, multiple times, to get coffee with him to discuss God, and when I refused, he called me a bitch. Class became a place where I didn’t feel safe, and I don’t want to feel that way again.

So now I’m afraid, even more so because I’m in a new place, and there’s a fragility that comes with that. It’s wrong to be quiet because you want to be agreeable. I think I’ll talk in class more next time, but I’m still scared. I think this will be an issue for me for a long time. ♦


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  • jenaimarley October 10th, 2012 7:07 PM

    The Perks of Being a Wallflower is just not out in my city (Tucson, AZ) and it makes me so sad!
    I loved the book and the fact that the author (who is primarily a filmmaker) wrote/directed the movie is phenomenal!
    Sorry that kind of doesn’t have to do with the entries…

    • Caitlin H. October 11th, 2012 2:23 AM

      Aw, I feel for you- I wanted to see Moonrise Kingdom but it wasn’t shown anywhere near me in the UK! And I thought he did a great job on it, I hope you enjoy it if you ever see it!

    • TinaBallerina October 11th, 2012 5:04 AM

      The Perks of Being a Wallflower is not coming to Norway at all!! This is making me and my friends really angry, since the book is amazing and the actors are all amazing and pretty. Gaah!

  • Lucy23 October 10th, 2012 7:10 PM


  • Emilie October 10th, 2012 7:27 PM

    Ruby, I’m so glad it went well for you!

  • kolumbia October 10th, 2012 7:35 PM

    I thought this was going to be about Perks!?! (It was so amazing! It’s my favorite book!) But anyway, Britney, school is hard! Maybe you should think about dropping some of your more challenging classes, especially if they’re ones you don’t like. I did that this year (I’m a junior in high school) and because of it my GPA and mood soared!

  • Rosie October 10th, 2012 7:38 PM

    Oh gosh, I feel you, Britney. I’m in 9th grade and I’ve been in almost the exact same situation since the school year started :/ (except I don’t have any friends to ask me what’s wrong… oops). Luckily school (high school, in my case) is temporary (as my mom constantly reiterates) and there’s always the weekend to look forward to. I’m not going to say that everything is going to be fine, because sleepless nights and logic-less teachers aren’t fine, but in the end everything will pay off :)

  • Tiger October 10th, 2012 7:54 PM

    Yay Ruby!! And you have a band? That’s so cool!

    • youngfridays October 10th, 2012 8:28 PM

      I’m heaps curious to know the link to the youtube page…? Eheh

  • litchick October 10th, 2012 8:12 PM

    Katherine, I am in a similar situation to your current one. Maybe your classmates will surprise you by being open to perspectives and opinions that are different from theirs. Just a thought- I hope everything works out for you!

    • hollysh October 11th, 2012 12:16 PM

      Hey Katherine and Litchick, you should definitely try and speak up if I can push yourself to do it. You’ll undoubtedly come up against juiceboxes who don’t agree with you and are mean about it, but some people are awesome to discuss opposing views with and a lot of times you find friends who share your opinions! Seriously! Like, you’ll find out someone else agrees with your views on feminism (or whatever else) and suddenly you have a new friend. If your professor is encouraging you, that probably means she will help mediate the discussion in such a way that you won’t be too vulnerable to naysayers. Give it a go!

      • litchick October 11th, 2012 3:40 PM

        Thanks so much, Hollysh! I will be sure to give it a try. :)

  • Summer October 10th, 2012 8:27 PM

    This is my favourite drawing ever and I haven’t even read the diaries yet.

  • landlockedblues October 10th, 2012 8:52 PM

    Naomi, if you ever do come to Brazil, we have a good group of brazilian Rookie readers who would welcome you with open arms :)

  • Mim October 10th, 2012 10:31 PM

    Katherine — sometimes profs are afraid of totally countering student viewpoints (if everyone who talks is coming from the same point of view, they’ll seem mean or like they’re calling the students dumb, which they don’t mean to do.) BUT if a student offers another view point, then the prof is safe to back it up, or help them talk it out till it makes sense to the other students, and it helps encourage good debate. If your prof is really good, she’ll be happy to help you practice expressing your ideas during her office hours… so you can get feedback on how to phrase things well.

  • Gretchyn October 10th, 2012 10:35 PM

    Ruby your writing is so lovely; I love your description of the events

  • guiltfreedonut October 10th, 2012 10:38 PM

    Britney, I literally don’t sleep anymore. I’ve developed insomnia from it so now when I actually do want to go to sleep I can’t. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.

  • Abby October 10th, 2012 11:33 PM

    Katherine, as I have said so, so many other times, you are me. I feel you. So much.

  • raggedyanarchy October 10th, 2012 11:41 PM

    Thank you for reminding me of that little chant, Katherine. I had almost gotten it out of my head from my job at a summer camp. The little girls in my cabin declared it their “song” and proceeded to spout it out at least fifty times a day. JESUS it’s in my head again.

  • Mimi7 October 10th, 2012 11:47 PM

    Britany- I’m in 9th grade and I know what you mean about all of the work in 8th. At first it can seem hard but then it gets a little better. What really helped me was to organize because it just saves so much time and brings more order to something so hectic. The biggest thing I really learned was how to get work done really fast. Don’t over think, just put down any ideas that come to you because it doesn’t have to be perfect and teachers really don’t read every word you write or stare at everything you turn in.

    P.S. density= mass over volume and it looks like a heart cut in half m

  • allyishere October 11th, 2012 12:57 AM

    Naomi, you should definitely come to Australia! also thank you for acknowledging there are other attractions besides the Opera House and Uluru haha

    • hollysh October 11th, 2012 12:18 PM

      Australia is awesome. I moved here from the U.S. and I really really love it. I recommend everyone visits. Naomi, you can get a working holiday visa to come here really easily if you decide not to go to uni straight away and want to make a bit of money while you’re traveling.

  • ivoire October 11th, 2012 4:27 AM

    aw britney, keep up your hard work and your sleep ):

    and naomi, as a residence of australia i recommend coast side attractions or go full out bush. sydney city sucks don’t come here haha

    • ivoire October 11th, 2012 4:28 AM


  • TinaBallerina October 11th, 2012 5:05 AM

    Naomi, I could move to South London with you! Just give me two years, so I can graduate first. Also, that treehouse and swing sounds amazing.

  • Nikilodeon October 11th, 2012 6:17 AM

    dear britney,

    i feel your pain, bro. believe me, as a 12th grade ib student in the diploma programme, i have had my fair share of late nights, too. i can’t tell you it gets easier, because it doesn’t. but i can tell you that with experience, you WILL get better at juggling your time and being efficient and getting work done – all before bedtime. :) in the meantime, it’s a hell of a lot of pressure to “be a good student” so, i don’t know, why don’t you take a break? just watch tv and chill or something, even just for 20 minutes. that’s what i do when i feel like it’s too much. :)

    i hope that helps. and i hope you know that out there, there is also a very stressed 17 year old girl going through the exact same thing. you got this, girl! lo hicimos! :)

    • alisatimi October 12th, 2012 11:14 AM

      I never thought I’d meet another IB student on here! Just curious – where are you from? And I’m still in my first year so the work isn’t that bad, but I’ve heard plenty about how unbearable it gets.

    • rhymeswithorange October 14th, 2012 8:27 PM

      Hey other IB peeps!! I’m also in the second year of IB, I’m from Oregon in the US. I wish there was a better way to communicate besides comments cause I would love to talk with you guys!
      And I totally agree with Nikilodeon, having down time and doing fun stuff in addition to a tough workload is REALLY IMPORTANT. Music really helps me unwind.

  • Mimicry October 11th, 2012 6:49 AM

    As a coffee-loving, paperback-reading, inner-city living and bicycling Melburnian, the tourist industry of Australia is far from the city life I know and love! That said, reading about your travel plans to my continent makes me want to pack some possessions and take off to explore the outback for a few months! All things considered though… Melbourne did win the World’s Most Liveable City for a reason ;) You’re welcome anytime!

  • LeatherStuddedFae October 11th, 2012 7:59 AM

    I LOVE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER!! =] I dunno, I may be too overexcited about it but the whole thing… every single thing… about it is perfect. I used to be a wallflower and my aunt would always tell me that. And there are so many things about this book that I could relate to and understand. <3

  • sunshine October 11th, 2012 10:20 AM

    The Perks illustration is perfect!

  • Libby October 11th, 2012 12:43 PM

    Naomi, I want to go to uni in London too! When my brother was applying a few years back, I looked through all the brochures and picked out Royal Holloway from his selection, but I’ve decided I want something more central. I’m still unsure as to what exactly I want to study, but I know where I want to be.
    Katherine, in my religion class I am the most liberal, angry and politically minded. I’m the pro choice atheist feminist and I ramble on and I can’t keep my answers short and I hate the generalisations we have to make. But today I realised that the guy I sit next to has some really interesting ideas about IVF and having babies and stuff, instead of the “everyone deserves a baby and God created them as miracles” spiel that everyone else pulls out and can’t explain further. I guess… there might be other people that think like you do and feel like their points are wrong, but it’s easier to go along with what everyone else approves of, and it might just take time.
    Ruby, your grief group sounds so good! It sounds a bit like girl guides here, which is held in the sixth form centre with collapsing sofas and chairs. We chat and play games and sometimes cry and share stories. I’m glad you’re finding a good place, and I hope your sister gets more comfortable there soon.

    • Libby October 11th, 2012 12:43 PM

      And Britney–ugh, homework sucks. I hear ya! I find doing some at lunch with a friend can be fun, especially maths problems or language revision which can get dull but is better with a friend. Also, I do the stuff I suck at first and then leave my fun/easy stuff until later. So I might be up late doing art homework or writing a history essay, but that is better than struggling through a Physics write-up or Latin translation at 11pm.
      Good luck!

  • WitchesRave October 11th, 2012 1:16 PM

    Perks! *fangirls*
    Seriously though, it was a great adaption,

    and ruby i can visualize everything you write, and in my visualisation Boy A and B are both incredibly cute.. :D

  • sneakybacon October 11th, 2012 1:45 PM

    naomi! come to south london, obviously the best place ever. i’d love to be new here, you forget to look around when you’ve been here too long

  • nox October 11th, 2012 3:33 PM

    Naomi, I live in Birmingham and would like to be ANYWHERE else right about now. London is a pretty cool alternative, the city excites me too, hope you get into Uni there!

  • Hannah October 11th, 2012 6:03 PM

    Britney, I am so sorry you have that much work and you’re only in 8th grade. I have that much work now, but I’m in 11th grade. I hope your workload gets better! ((:

  • Blythe October 11th, 2012 9:17 PM

    Naomi–Australia is really great! I’ve been to the bush and a few cities and loved both. I would definitely recommend being non-Rookie and non-spontaneous and get a guide or something though, because Australia is not a country to fool around in.

  • missmadness October 11th, 2012 9:39 PM

    Katherine-from a teacher’s perspective, we really enjoy hearing from intelligent people, especially girls. Also a good teacher will create a safe environment for discussion. I doubt she was trying to make you feel distant from the other kids, what she was probably trying to convey was “I think what you have to say is important, and I want you to feel as though what you think is important enough to say.” Basically she has mad respect for you.

  • Kala October 11th, 2012 11:14 PM

    Everything here…just..YES.

  • Maialuna October 12th, 2012 12:45 AM

    Britney. Britney. I’m in 10th grade now and I do completely the same thing as you’re doing, and that I did in 8th grade (and 7th grade, and probably will in 11th grade). So I’m still working on it. I stay up until midnight and wake up at 5 too, and I have a whole bunch of classes outside of school and get really stressed with everything.

    I feel like you’re a past me who’s also present me. Maybe we’re just partially the same person. But it’ll be fine. And you don’t always have to put school in front of your mental health and sleep. And sometimes, if you have a lot of work, it’s worth it to take a day off. Not all the time. But don’t feel bad if you’re just not emotionally up to going to school and you have assignments due soon. People who work hard like you REALLY deserve a break.

    I think my grammar just fell into grains of sand, but I don’t care. FEEL BETTER.

    • Britney October 13th, 2012 2:14 AM

      Thank you! That really helps a lot.

  • meels October 12th, 2012 2:27 AM

    Haha Naomi its really interesting that you say you want to livein south London, I live there and I didn’t really think it was a very desirable part of London but its nice to hear. What uni were you thinking of going to?

  • raggedyanarchy October 14th, 2012 2:42 AM

    Perks is amazing! I read the BOOK a few years ago, and seeing it on screen was great. Ha I couldn’t get over Emma Watson’s American accent…

  • oriana October 15th, 2012 3:42 PM

    Ahhh, I relate.

  • tdelacruz October 15th, 2012 7:52 PM

    Loved loved loved.

  • SamB October 17th, 2012 10:35 AM

    Katherine, if you don’t speak up in class, an ENGLISH one for that matter, I’m going to drive my butt over to you (yes, without a car, I haven’t actually worked out the logistics yet) and we are going to get out our old yearbooks and attack any pictures in it of him with my friend Mr. Sharpie until you have so much energy you won’t know what do with it besides talk in class. :) You are way too smart and awesome, and the rest of your class is seriously missing out when they don’t hear what you have to say!

  • arorab November 3rd, 2012 6:32 AM

    Everything here is so realatible ,I live in Iceland and the perks of being a wallflower isn’t even going to be in movie theaters and I feel very sad about it because the book has been my favorite book for so long and I really wanted to see it :(8