A while back, a friend of mine messaged me with a dilemma:
“Down to real serious business: I have a cousin here in Austin who is kind of different than her classmates - she loves Dr. Who, she dresses kind of crazy and she’s really shy around new people. (She’s very nice, smart, basically like little-us). She’s in 7th grade and I think the other kids pick on her b/c she’s different. Anyways, her mom tells her its going to be ok b/c when she gets older, things will be different, she’ll go to college and meet nice people, etc. And while that is certainly true, I remember I absolutely hated people telling me “just wait til you’re older”.
So the question is - is there anything else I can say to her that would be better?”
And I realized that I had no idea what to say. “It gets better” or “just wait until you’re older”, while profound statements of hope, don’t offer much in the way of practical short-term advice or comfort. When I was thirteen, nerdy, and desperately miserable, I remember wanting to punch anyone who told me “it’ll be better in college” in the teeth. But it’s hard to give a good alternative, because anything you say is coming from your own history and perspective, which may be very different from the young person to whom you’re giving advice.
So I thought I’d ask the internet to give us their insight.
This is what they said.