We asked our newest Teen Trendsetters to write blog posts about a topic that means a lot to them in YA, and in life. This post is by 1oth grader Deanna, who can be found on Twitter @Deannareads.
Acceptance in YA Books
I’ve learned many important lessons from young adult books. Honestly? I’ve probably learned more about life and people through my reading than through the two years of high school that I have completed thus far. One of those important lessons is acceptance. The truth is: not everyone is going to like you, and that’s OK!
I consider myself a very critical person. I can be pretty judgemental at times. It’s one of my worst traits. I’m also very critical of myself: I don’t like making mistakes, I don’t like being wrong, I don’t like losing, and I HATE it when people don’t like me. I can’t take it when people are mad at me. I’ll cry for hours and hours and do everything I can to make them forgive me or stop being mad at me. I would kill to know what all of my classmates think of me.
I’ve always had this feeling that nobody actually likes me. This stems from the anxiety and insecurities that I’ve had my entire life. I’ve always felt a little left out of all my friend groups and that everyone likes each other more than they like me. I can never tell if that’s actually the case or if I’m just being paranoid. I’ve even felt that way in the book community.
I crave affection. I give so much affection to other people that I never get back what I give. I guess I expect too much because I want what I give to others. When I like someone, not romantically but just as a friend, I like them INTENSELY. I am super nice to them, I shower them in gifts and praise, I invite them over all the time, and I worry. I worry that they are just being my friend because they pity me. I worry that they don’t actually like me and are just putting up with me. I’ve let these anxieties get the best of me before and it’s never ended up well.
Right before school started this year, I had a fight with a “friend” because she took something that I said in a group chat and blew it way out of proportion, taking it for something it wasn’t. As it turns out, it wasn’t just the misinterpreted comment that had her angry at me. She texted one of our other friends, saying that “something had been brewing between us for a long time.” This utterly perplexed me. I was not good friends with this girl, she was merely a part of my group of friends. I hadn’t spoken to her all summer and this was coming out of nowhere. So naturally, I texted her and asked what I did. I told her that I was sorry for whatever I did and asked her if she could tell me exactly what I did so I could change it in the future. She refused to tell me.
When she told me that she wouldn’t tell me, my heart started racing and the tears started flowing. It killed me not knowing. For about half an hour, I was a wreck. Then, I realized something. I don’t need to know. If this girl is rude enough to not tell me why she was mad at me, then she isn’t worth my time. I didn’t even consider the possibility of not being friends with her anymore when all this drama started. I came to realize that she had always been a toxic friend and I didn’t need her in my life. That was mid-August. It’s now the beginning of February, and guess what? She still hasn’t told me. And I am OKAY with that. She isn’t worth my time or energy anymore.
I’ve come to realize that not everyone is going to like to me, and I have to be okay with that. There are people out there that like me. There are people out there that REALLY like me. It’s been hard for me to accept that some people actually like me as much as I like them. I’m always surprised when my friends invite me to hang out or sleep over or just want to talk to me. I still need to work on my feelings of false feelings of acceptance. I am slowly starting to care less what other people think of me. And if someone doesn’t like me, or finds me annoying, or thinks I’m mean, or HATES me, THAT IS FINE. There will always be someone who doesn’t like you. Not everyone is going to like you. But…there will also always be some who likes you and even loves you. If you’re reading this, you can put one person down, and that’s me. I LIKE YOU. A LOT.
An important part of me realizing this was YA books. A lot of characters in the books I was reading felt the same way I did. Belly from The Summer I Turned Pretty wanted, more than anything, her brother’s friends to accept her. Isla from Isla and the Happily Ever After wanted real friends who would love her for who she is. Ana in Incarnate just wanted to be viewed as a human being. It worked out well for all of these characters. This gave me hope that it would work out for me as well. Guess what? It did work out for me! I don’t have a “group” of friends like I did in middle school and 9th grade anymore because that’s just not the thing for me. I have a few best friends and I’m happier than ever.
My end message is that acceptance isn’t everything. If you’re not being accepted or feel left out of a group, maybe that group isn’t for you. Your real friends will cherish you and make sure you feel included, I promise!