Has this ever happened to you? It’s recess or lunchtime or some other blessed free point in the day where everyone is free to do as they please, and you have the option to spend time with people that you enjoy the company of. The problem is that when you approach them, attempt to make conversation, or otherwise interact, you find that you are pushed away. People turn their backs on you, ignore what you say, and give you a stink eye that would knock out a skunk. You find yourself alone most of the time wishing, praying, hoping beyond hope that you could somehow find solace in a companion and even the mighty universe turns its celestial back on you. Well then, you came to the right place!
Everyone just might find you annoying, unpleasant, and/or intimidating but do not despair! I am here to help you. After all, no one likes to bother others and end up lonely. So it’s good to make sure you don’t take up too much space. Here is a guide on how to shrink, complete with, and hold onto your socks, personal evidence! By the end, you’ll know all the greatest tips and tricks to fold yourself into the perfect little package of convenience. Everyone will love you or your hypothetical money back!
Step one: Be Small
Now, this isn’t the easiest to control – it’s impossible to control, really – but it’s the first step. Being big makes people uncomfortable. No matter how much of a melted marshmallow you are, if you look like a bear in human form, people will see you as a threat. So be small. Whether you need to hunch over all the time, swear off heels forever, or maybe lose weight like everyone keeps telling you to.
It’s good to listen to a professional, and as someone who’s always been the tallest and overall largest person in classes, I’ve got you!
Being small can, to a point, render you almost invisible! And what’s more convenient for others than a literally nonexistent person? The answer is: an actively convenient person!
Now, I read somewhere on the internet that a great way to help people really understand instructions like this is to give examples. Cite why you’re telling them this. In the spirit of obeying whatever I read, it’s story time!
Way back when I was just a cub instead of the full grown grizzly I am now, I took Spanish class with a group of less-than-angelic boys. The fact that I was already fluent in Spanish may or may not have affected my decision to take the class that was a guaranteed A, but that’s beside the point.
This class was where I learned the first tip I’m sharing with you all today: be small.
One day I went to class all ready to learn like the teacher’s pet I was, binder in hand and everything. Just minding my own business and filing in after everyone else. When all of a sudden, I hear coughing and sputtering from beside and behind me. Being the good Samaritan that I was, I turned around to search for the source.
Lo and behold! A bunch of the mean boys had decided to put on a show for everyone! This cohort of theatrical miracles proceeded to flail around, still feigning a lung injury, all the while wheezing and lamenting their struggle to breathe in my presence. Apparently I stole their breath away, but it was not with beauty. Of course not, I had never been one of those girls. Instead their congestion predicament was caused by my size.
“Oh god, she’s so fat I can’t even breathe!” one boy cried to the heavens, falling dramatically to the ground as Icarus succumbed to the embrace of the ocean.
Ever supportive of his thespian endeavors, the rest of the class laughed. And as I passed the rest of them to get to my seat across the room, they all made a show of moving their desks forward to give me as much space as possible. After all, it was evident that anything short of a football field was tragically small in comparison to my mighty girth. It was a miracle I could fit into clothes at all!
This incident, one of many, many, many other ones, taught me the value that lies in being small. See, being larger than other people want you to be renders you essentially inhuman! How dare you take up more space than the ever-changing hypothetical amount allotted to everyone by the dubious force of social norms and beauty standards!
You had better apologize profusely every time you so much as exist, because other people, better people, could be taking up the space you so selfishly hog to yourself. Be small, dammit! That’s how you should be!
Step two: Be quiet
You know the saying ‘children should be seen and not heard?’ of course you do! In this case, it doesn’t just apply to children. It’s best that you’re not seen in the first place, but if you failed step one, make sure you’re quiet, instead.
No one likes a loudmouth. If you feel the urge to say something, remember this simple mnemonic device: NOC. It’s short for “No One Cares,” and it applies to everything! No one cares about that pun you want to insert into the conversation. No one cares about that idea that just popped into your head. No one cares about your stories, they are never as interesting as you think they are. No one cares what you have to say! When in doubt, NOC!
It is good to listen, though! Everyone loves a good listener. Turn yourself into a human dumpster that they can hurl all their problems into and you’ll never be alone! You can become the void they scream into when they can’t deal with their own lives! Who cares how you’re actually doing?
Good old traditional American values presented in schools taught me this step. Why, I feel the need to sing the national anthem in tribute to the blessed knowledge bestowed upon me by this glorious country! Now if only said country would pay for my therapist visits.
When you look at children, there tend to be different almost archetypal roles that they tend to fulfill. There’s the sporty kids and the stylish kids, the sweet kids and the bullies. The popular kids and the outcasts.
I naturally fell into the latter category even though I did my damndest to be considered popular. As a child, I talked to everyone and made new friends every time I got even remotely near a park. As you can guess, that is no longer the case. In fact, the mere thought of having to interact with another human being makes me want to fake my own death and move to the middle of the Pacific ocean with a trusty dog whom I can feed fish on our shared boat-house.
You see, early on, I was deemed a bit too, how did they all put it so they wouldn’t hurt my feelings? High-spirited. That’s adult-speak for annoying and distracting. Twice during each school year my parents were called in for the dreaded Parent-Teacher conferences that decided my fate. I was banished to the hallway to pace and ponder, perpetually resisting the urge to puke out of sheer terror.
Every single time, my teachers said the same thing: I needed to stop talking so much in class, both to them and to my fellow students. I was an obnoxious, all-consuming presence in everyone’s classroom life. It was unacceptable.
Now, as I mentioned before, I meant no harm by the way I acted. I only wanted to pursue my goal of being absurdly popular like everyone else was. All evidence pointed to me being a supervillain for daring to answer too many questions and getting excited about lessons and attempting to connect with my fellow miniature humans.
Each time I was reminded that I was such a destructive force that pulverized everyone’s focus to pieces, a little more of me was snuffed out. I laugh now when my parents suggest that I socialize, because I know that nothing good could come of it. No one likes a loud mouth and no one cares what I have to say. It’s what they and my teachers taught me.
Now, even when my impulses are not kept in check and I work up the nerve to say something funny or talk to someone I enjoy the company of, I remind myself not to do too much. Not to overstay my welcome. After all, most people would rather have a void present than a person.
Step three: Always say yes. Or at least never say no.
As I said before, nothing is better for others than an actively convenient person. This step could turn you into a sitcom! We all know there’s at least one episode in every series where the doormat character – that’s you in case you forgot – commits to helping too many friends at once and needs to pull fun, quirky shenanigans in order to fulfill their promises. Be that doormat! Embrace it!
Make sure that you always have food on you to lend to your hungry friends and cash in case they need you to cover for them. After a while, they’ll depend on you for more and more! They’ll need you for help on homework and projects, go to you for advice, and take you everywhere with them! Who cares why! What matters is that they’ll not just have you around, but want you around!
Everyone will carry you around in their pockets like the small, quiet little dumpling you’ve made yourself into for them.
I was taught this by a good former friend of mine. I may or may not be easing up on the emotional toll this next story took, but that’s fine! Fake it to you make it, am I right?
The scene is fourth grade in Memorial Spaulding, a school with a name that I still feel sounds more official than it needs to. Twilight is all the rage, Justin Bieber is just beginning to emerge as the next pop culture icon nobody wanted to get as big as he did, and I just moved into the first house my family’s ever owned (we had one before this point, except we were just renting and it was haunted, but that’s another story).
The previous year, I had been the new kid from the great, shining, glorious, fantastic city of New York. I knew that made me important, because I had never heard of a Massachusetts before, but everyone knew New York. The reception I expected (being adored by the small town bumpkins from the humble city of Boston) never came. Instead I was shoved off to the side to occupy myself with books and imaginary friends. Said invisible companions knew me well, so I made do with what I could.
That all changed in fourth grade, however, because I had house with a garage and driveway and yard like everyone else and I would be damned if I didn’t make friends with the entire grade by the end of the year. After all, I was no longer the “brand new kid.” I was the “slightly less new kid,”which was completely different! My status was changed due to the arrival of a fellow New Yorker, a girl named Nicole with a Russian family.
Now let me take a moment – that’s right, you can go get a drink or go to the bathroom, just bring this with you and don’t get it wet – to tell you about this girl. She was a literal angel of the lord. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life, and I had seen a whole Broadway musical at that point. She had eyes like, what’s a good cliche, the ocean marrying the sky. She had golden hair that put the other blond girls in our grade to shame. She was tall, as tall as me, and had curves that I didn’t know existed outside of magazine covers. I still can’t believe she was the same age as me. After all, at that time, I resembled a chicken nugget that had a brillo pad stuck to the top and glasses taped on.
I was determined to win her heart. Platonically, of course (the attraction crisis she sent me spiraling into is yet another story for another day). So I reached out to her on the first day of school. We bonded over being the new kids, being from New York, and liking the Narnia books. From that point until the beginning of the next year, we were virtually inseparable.
She struggled with classwork a lot of the time and being the charitable soul I was, helped her with everything. I caught her up on reading by telling her what had happened in our books during recess and gave her the answers to homework and class assignments. Soon, I was giving her snacks from my lunchbox and letting her borrow all the pencils she wanted. She always thanked me, and I decided then that I didn’t really need other friends so long as she was happy with me.
In the spring, she started asking to come to my house after school, because her parents had to work. She would take the bus with me and hang out in my yard while my mom made us both lunch. I would help her study, give her my homework to copy, and listened to all of her problems. She never really asked me what I was doing or offered me anything in return, but her friendship was enough for me. After all, she had it so hard being the “brand new kid” and I didn’t want to burden her with my petty problems. A few insults a day was really nothing in the grand scheme of things. Even getting beat up once or twice was nothing compared to how she suffered. She was beautiful, after all, and we all know beautiful people are infinitely more valuable than ugly people – like me!
Those two months spent entirely in her company were by far the most glorious of my elementary school life. I gave her everything I could as a nine-year-old and never so much as considered asking for anything more substantial than thanks in return. She was the light of my life, the jelly to my peanut butter, the – well, you probably get it by now, I digress, dear students.
In the fall, the legendary fifth grade year that would mark the end of my childhood and the beginning of the hallowed “tween” years, I was all too eager to return to my post as the servant of my Russian empress. After all, my excessively submissive behavior had managed to make me the center of her blessed attention for ten entire months!
Unfortunately, not even all of my “yeses” and significant lack of (completely nonexistent) “no’s” were not enough to keep her. In fifth grade she became the new “slightly less new kid” and that granted her membership to the most exclusive level of student life ever: the popular kids. She came back to school more beautiful and more stylish than ever, boasting designer clothes and perfect hair that made her the envy of the girls who had been using me as a punching bag for two years.
They loved her too. Not even a fraction as much as I did (then again, I tend to overdo things to an unhealthy point so I don’t see that as a bad thing anymore), but nonetheless they did. Once they became her friends, there was no further room for me in her life. She did the valiant, gracious thing that any well-meaning, compassionate, loving Empress would do! She avoided me for weeks until I was too heartbroken by the small rejections to even look at her for too long out of fear that it annoyed her (remember I was a lumbering, obnoxious, despicable excuse for a human being).
She moved away the next year, but what she taught me has stayed. I’ve kept loads of friends (never mind the quality of the relationship, it’s quantity we’re going for here) in the same way that I briefly kept her. Providing everyone with everything they need all the time is a great way to keep people around you! Give all that you can, in fact, give all that you are! They’ll thank you in spirit, probably, and it’s the thought that counts!
Step four: Think small
You know what makes people bigger (metaphorically of course)?Makes people blossom and love themselves and their lives? Dreams! Never have dreams! Being passionate about things makes you want to talk and branch out and take risks. None of those are good! Dreams take you out of the convenient cocoon you’re building for yourself.
Now, it’s true that people like dreamers in theory, they admire people who try to make the world a better place – or whatever it is your dreams are, I won’t judge – but in reality, they’ll probably just make you annoying. Dreams become obsessions, which become your life, and you have to remember that you don’t get to have a life! You having a life will get in the way of your job as a tiny void for your friends!
Don’t have dreams. They make you annoying.
Feel in the mood for another story? Either way I don’t care, you’re getting one! I am committed to being the best teacher I can be!
When I was a measly eight years old (yes all of my stories are out of order, that’s just how I work) my parents took my sister and I to a restaurant in Gloucester (pronounced: wrong. They pronounce it wrong). The meal was delicious, and my parents, being the delightfully friendly people they were, asked to speak to the chef/owner of the place since it was closing soon after we finished up. He was gracious and said yes. Little did I know the traumatizing experience would stick with me ten years later.
It was a dark and stormy night (okay it wasn’t, it was clear, but the clouds were present in spirit) and the chef/owner emerged from the kitchen in all his authoritative glory. At the time, he reminded me of a tomato brought to life, which was quite insensitive of my younger self because the restaurant was an Italian one. If you want a clearer picture of him, he resembled that one grandpa on pizza boxes. You know the one. (If you don’t eat pizza and therefore don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s time to start living your life. Get a pizza and come back.)
My parents talked to him for a few minutes while my sister and I did whatever it is eight year olds and four year olds do. Eventually, the conversation turned to children as it inevitably does. The chef/owner explained that his kids were already off in college. My sister and I clearly were not, and so he dropped that horrible, fateful, bone-chilling, earth-shattering question that all adults feel the need to drop on kids they don’t know.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Now, up until the age of seven or so I’d had a very clear image in my mind that involved me in a convent because of a devout aunt of mine. That changed when my mother got me addicted to American Idol. I had been surrounded by music since before I was born, and seeing people on a national stage valued for nothing above their vocal prowess (or looks, since some were attractive and terrible singers) inspired me to reach for visible, not spiritual, glory.
“I want to be a musician!” I proudly proclaimed, seeing myself in a glittery get up on a stage already. Now with him in the audience to be a witness to my majesty.
He laughed, a full and hearty sound that made me smile until he decided to pierce me with a shake of his head. “That’ll never work out, kid. Making it in the music business is damn near impossible.” Then, as if stomping my dreams through the floor with his large feet was not enough for him, had the audacity to reach out and tousle my rowdy hair with his gigantic sausage fingers. “You don’t wanna end up on the streets or your parents’ basement do you?”
The visage of his mighty girth and the sight of my parents beside him had blurred with tears at that point. I was forlorn. Forsaken by my muse. Utterly and completely annihilated. I shook my head only because that was what he expected.
My parents protested his assumptions of course, but the damage had already been done. I am sure now that he was coming from at worst a place of complete and total malicious ignorance and at best a place of arrogance.
This encounter only confirmed what I had heard from my Newtonian friends (referred to as bullies by anyone I told about them). That my lofty ambition of one day singing on a stage in front of adoring fans, or rather, bringing joy to other people through an art form that I also enjoyed, only made me a nuisance.
From then on I resigned to doubt myself to the point that I would never succeed and instead lift others up so they wouldn’t feel as terrible as I did. My plan was foolproof!
Step five: Be your own wrecking ball
If you have followed the first five steps, congratulations! You have brought yourself down to a manageable size, sealed your mouth shut, given everything to your friends, and whittled down your own mind. Now to maintain all of that hard work!
When I say be your own wrecking ball, I am not referencing the song by Miley Cyrus. The point is to make sure you don’t start growing again! No one can knock you down harder than you, after all. You know your own weaknesses, so exploit them! Make sure you never become anything more than the convenient pocket-sized friend everyone wants around!
Don’t think about what it says about you that you’re willing to even do step one. If your brain starts getting chatty, knock it a couple of times!
Some people (the ones who “care about you” or whatever) will say that it’s bad to treat yourself this way. They’ll try to convince you to grow again, but guess what? If you’ve reached this step, whatever they say will be in vain anyway, you’re too far gone!
I would provide a story for this one too, but I don’t want to underestimate you as a reader. You’re smart, you get it, and if you’ve made it to this point then you’ve probably got stories of your own now. I don’t want to clog your brain up with more of my nonsense (sound familiar? I’m remembering that No One Cares! Ha!) because you have wisdom of your own that you can pass down! Look at us, making a legacy together! Oh wait, wanting a legacy counts as a dream. Don’t do what I just did, I got a little too excited.
As you can see, I caught myself in those mistakes because I am a professional. One day you might be able to get on my level and be an unstoppable force of self-destruction and support for others. I promise that if you look at only the rewards it will all feel like it’s worth it!
Now remember kids, or however old you are, be small! NOC! Everyone loves a Yes Person! Dreams are for revolutionaries, not you! And finally, rubble is easier to carry than boulders, so wreck yourself!
Enjoy your many friends and acquaintances! You are welcome!