Growing Up

The traits which caused you to be teased as a kid may be the same traits that cause you to be successful as an adult, if you let them.

Good theory, or bollocks?

Published: August 8, 2006 by Aaron Wall in marketing


August 9, 2006 - 4:28pm

True. Any strong interest seems obsessive and tease-worthy in the normative context of public school, which after all is the factory system applied to sorting (and in some cases, rejecting) human beings. But fixating on ideas is tremendously helpful in the real world, especially if you're trying to battle it out with the market independently.

August 9, 2006 - 5:23pm

I believe Paul Graham would agree: Why Nerds Are Unpopular.

August 9, 2006 - 9:10pm

With physical traits I'd guess "NO". Actually, with most traits I'd say no. People evolve.

August 9, 2006 - 9:27pm

Ok theory, if you accentuate the word, "may." I'm sure everyone has heard of stories where someone was teased about something and it spurred them to greatness in that area or maybe they are teased because they are already great in that area. That's something that should be cleared up in the theory: is it a cause or a mere correlation.

Anyhow, you might hear about the cases of people overcoming what they were teased for to rise to the top but there are probably more cases where it creates greater insecurity and low self-esteem. If you look at severe cases like bullying, there are some extremely bad consequences. Remeber Columbine? So, I think human behaviour and psychology is a little more complex than what is implied by this theory and other similar attempts to generalize human behaviour.

August 9, 2006 - 11:14pm

You are an American Aaron, now lets start you talking like one Mr. Bollocks or Buzzcocks or whatever they call it!

Gheesh! ;)

August 10, 2006 - 7:37am

The thing is that if a person can turn a disadvantage to an advantage, it doesn't matter if he wasn't being teased. It is a matter of having a strong personality and not how the childhood passed.

Sure, if you were teased, you might grow resentment to others, clench your teeth and fight to the last breath, but really, all you need to succeed is persistence and self-control.

August 11, 2006 - 6:25am

I think it depends greatly on the level of self-esteem the child had. If he had a low self esteem it might mean that a positive train that he has as a child might have been wiped out. For example being labeled as a "sissy" because he was caring and sensitive causes him to become a cold tough guy to be accepted.

On the other hand if he has high self esteem he will keep the trait, and it will become of great benefit in his interpersonal relationships in the future.

August 13, 2006 - 1:00am

I'm mostly with Rob with this one. I think the qualities that lead to being teased may appear to lead to success directly in their own right, but that the more determinant factor is self-confidence.

Social institutions, particularly at a younger age where personality is being forged, put self-confidence to the test as we learn who we are largely through the eyes of others,

Teasing has the capacity to strengthen self-confidence, but also to tear it down. It puts a person to the test - some pass, some fail.

If a person has a lot of self-confidence then they usually believe they can succeed. If they don't have much confidence in themselves, it shows and other people usually won't as well.

There is of course a middle ground, where people have more self-confidence in some areas, but less in others. This can cause people to gravitate to areas they are more confident in, and avoid those they can't. In the world at large, this is easier - but social institutions like "school" that have rule structures it's a lot harder to avoid activities that make you uncomfortable.

August 13, 2006 - 2:27am

DEFINITELY - for those who know me, they know what to expect. A loud, dorky, fun (a nicer word for obnoxious), but aggressive personality. I grew up #2 out of 4 boys (Jan Brady Syndrome to the max) and at school I was always somebody's brother. So, I started making waves to get noticed... good or bad I turned into an attention whore.

After I grew up and got past my teenage angst, I started learning how to connect with people on a more normal level than shock value or laugh factor, but all those years of being loud or shocking helped me develop a skill to run into any environment, no matter how stuffy, and practically turn it into a frat party lol.

I have reached a zen state which I call "Consciously Obnoxious" I have no idea how it works so well, but I make waves, sometimes bug some people, but for the most part I make people laugh and help make those around me more successful in any venture. I guess you have to have some kind of color or ability to affect people to be in marketing?

Anyways, it was nice chatting with you in San Jose Aaron, hopefully we can make some waves in your new vertical!

August 14, 2006 - 7:50am

I tried reading Paul Graham's piece about why nerds are unpopular, and I couldn't finish it. There is so much contradiction there that I don't think he knows what he really thinks. There are some truths, but there are too many contradictions.

Allow me to summarize my observations. Kids who are introspective often are so because of family problems - because they withdraw from their environment, reflect inwards and then reflect outwards. Being introspective triggers more neurons and helps develop correlations between ideas that other people just cannot fathom. It's this view of the world that differentiates nerds from everyone else.

And kids being the brutally honest beings that they are, and not understanding the forced civilities of adults, pick on those that are different (outsiders).

But there's more than that, and it has to do with the three types of learning, and most people favour one naturally over the other: kinesthetic (athletes), visual (artists), and aural (musicians). Nerds, however, often have tendencies to both visual and aural learning, and less towards kinesthetic. This allows them to imagine great concepts in their minds, to dream up new ideas and often make it manifest.

All this already differentiates them from everyone else. But because there's some overlap in learning style - and thus frame of mind - this allows them to move within a couple of circles of influence. (I did have a few athletic friends in high school because of my running skills. It's not uncommon for nerds to be attracted to the less aggressive forms of sport.)

Nerds have the greatest opportunity to shine in life, if they're capable of realizing their talents. Those that don't often get into trouble. (I could write loads, observed over decades, as well as what I learned as a teaching assistant, but that's enough for now.)

Joe Banner
August 15, 2006 - 11:32pm

Ahhh. Poor issue ridden geek doesn't have a date for the prom. Keep making posts like this and you will be dating cheerleaders and hanging with the football captain.

August 16, 2006 - 12:07am

Winning Blog Troll Techniques...write the book. You are a pro.

Joe Banner
August 16, 2006 - 1:39am

Thank you. You were asking for it, weren't you?

August 16, 2006 - 2:15am

To a troll there is no such thing as irrelevancy.

August 9, 2006 - 10:55am

I agree with your statement. In school your quirks may get you teased, in the real world the same quirks make you an expert in something, the real world is just larger than school and has room for everybody.

August 9, 2006 - 12:50pm

i vote bollocks. i think the real issue is not the traits that get you teased but rather the issue of simply getting teased. getting teased makes you an outsider, which gives you a different perspective, which can be your winning ticket regarding succcess as an adult. it also forces you to cultivate a value system dependent upon your own internal values and not social approval, which i think is also an attribute of people that are both successful and happy.

August 9, 2006 - 2:12pm

Bollocks in my opinion. I was the smallest kid in school and was teased often - until one day I beat the $hit out of many of my tormentors one by one.

If I went down I would get up again and get my tormentors from behind.

Whatever way I would fight back and was consequently left alone - 'til I changed schools...

I'm no big tough guy but always fought the enemy - often to my loss.

I did keep my pride....

I have been self employed for many years

Sayam Khan
August 9, 2006 - 4:17pm

As a child you have vivid and fluid imagination.
As we grow up, we generate rigid schemas or mindsets that hurt creativity and also objectivity.

Best to let that trait grow with you.

My dilemma - which is do-able - is to have the objectivity and analytic prowess of a class A analyst, and the creativity of a 5 year old at the same time. And I could invoke either mode of thinking at will and demand.

Email me if you would like to discuss my saga.

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