by Bri Nutter, Staff Writer
The following story was written by a student on the staff of The Jaguar Times as part of Hilliard Bradley High School’s Journalism Production course.
Every student in high school has experienced being embarrassed by something that wouldn’t be embarrassing in any other setting. Many students and staff members at Bradley have been discussing this recently since the weather is changing, and the school year is coming to an end. The Jaguar Times decided to find out what these awkward things are, and why they are deemed embarrassing in high school specifically.
There are many aspects of being a high school student that are uncomfortable. However, some things that students describe as “embarrassing” are viewed as being completely normal outside of school. Audrey Brill (12) shares her experience, saying “Getting up to go to the bathroom is really uncomfortable for me. Not only do I have to walk across everyone in the room, but I have to bother the teacher.” When asked why she thinks this embarrasses her, she added “Students in high school are very judgmental. When I walk across the room, I feel like they are all staring at me and judging me, especially if the teacher says no when I ask.” This problem can be amplified for female-identifying students, especially when they need to take feminine products to the bathroom with them. This is a very interesting example, especially since using the restroom is something that everyone needs to do. In most other public settings, it would be completely acceptable to use the restroom. Every individual has been there, yet for some reason in high school it is embarrassing.
Not every student follows the same lifestyle. When differences appear amongst one's peers in school, it can make students feel very uncomfortable. A great example of this is students with braces. Braces require special care, even during school hours. KC Sandy (12) had braces as an underclassman and shared her experience. “When you have braces, you have to brush your teeth after every meal, including lunch. It was very embarrassing for me to have to go to the bathroom after lunch to brush my teeth because people would look at me and it was clear that they were judging me.” Many students that have had braces will be able to relate to this struggle, and will go as far as ignoring their orthodontist’s requests in order to avoid awkward interactions with other students. A similar struggle is felt by upperclassmen who have to ride the bus.
Audrey Brown (11) shares “Riding the bus as an upperclassman is embarrassing because most upperclassmen can drive. I get anxious that people will make fun of me because I don’t have a car or a driver’s license, even though riding the bus should be completely normal. Not every upperclassman is able to drive themselves, so the stigma around riding the bus is very stressful for them.” Audrey’s point shows that not only are things embarrassing exclusively to high school, but also to grade. Riding the bus as an underclassman is seen as completely normal, but once students reach a specific age range, it becomes uncomfortable. This type of culture is toxic, especially since not everyone can afford a car. Bradley students need to remind themselves that every situation is different, and there should never be judgement about things that aren’t in the individual's control.
While there are many things that are embarrassing as a high school student, teachers who work in the high school setting also feel similar illogical embarrassment. As a young teacher, Mr. Witt has a unique perspective. “It is embarrassing as a young teacher/new teacher when you are mistaken as a student both by staff or by students themselves.” Since there is such a wide range of ages in the Bradley staff, this is a struggle that only a few teachers can relate to. However, that doesn’t take away from the discomfort of needing to have awkward conversations with peers, clarifying that they are allowed to be doing whatever it is they need to do as a teacher.
At some point, every teacher will come across an uncomfortable situation that would only happen to a high school teacher. Mrs. Gmerek shared a very interesting point. “I think that for some reason it’s weirdly embarrassing when students find, and try to follow me on social media. I’m not necessarily trying to hide anything, but sometimes I feel like it puts me in an awkward situation to say no, especially when a student says ‘but I really want to follow you and be friends with you some time after high school’. It feels inappropriate. There’s a line there and I’m not sure exactly what it is.” This is a very interesting point, especially considering that social media has been an up-and-coming phenomenon in recent years. Growing up, many teachers were not familiar with this level of exposure online. It is hard to set boundaries when it comes to something so public, yet personal.
This is a topic that many teachers may relate to, however Mrs. Horne chimed in with a point that she feels every teacher has experienced. She said, “We have also thought that sometimes it is weird running into students outside of school.” She emphasized this by sharing a personal experience that she has had. “Running into students at the Hilliard Pool is a little embarrassing. Seeing students there when you're with your family is embarrassing because students are used to seeing me in professional clothes. When my hair is up, and I’m wearing a swimsuit with a cover-up, it’s an awkward encounter.” Many students don’t think about how teachers have their own personal lives, so the awkward encounters outside of school can be extremely embarrassing for both teachers and students.
High school is a very interesting and unique setting for both students and teachers. Many experiences that would be completely normal in day-to-day life become extremely awkward when it comes to being, and encountering teenagers. The most important takeaway from these moments is that it’s crucial to understand that everyone is in a different situation outside of the school building. It’s important to never judge someone for how they choose to live their life. Everyone has a unique story, and you never know how your judgement can affect others mindsets and comfort levels.
Throughout the interviews conducted while writing this story, many honorable mentions were noted that couldn’t possibly be covered in just one article. Here’s a list of the Jaguar Times top 10 favorites:
1. Bringing a jacket/coat into the school building.
From a student perspective, it is strangely embarrassing to carry a jacket around school. Many students would rather run inside without a coat despite the weather to avoid the awkward situation of carrying clothes around school with them.
2. Wearing slip-on white vans, and being able to see the individual’s socks.
From a student perspective, teens would prefer to wear no socks with slip-on white vans instead of having socks that can be seen when wearing these specific shoes. No one seems to be able to pinpoint why this is embarrassing; it just is.
3. Walking into class late.
From a student perspective, almost everyone has experienced having to walk into a class after it has already started. Regardless of the reason behind the tardiness, having to interrupt the class to give the teacher your pass, taking out your iPad, and getting settled is embarrassing. It is strange that this is embarrassing because almost every student has experienced this at least once.
4. Seeing a teacher/student outside of school.
From both a student and teacher perspective, it is extremely awkward to see someone from school in a public setting. Teachers feel embarrassed when they say hi to a student in public and they don’t respond, and students feel embarrassed when they see a teacher in public and they are unsure if they should approach the teacher or if that is crossing an unclear boundary.
5. Being the first student to turn in an assignment/test.
From a student perspective, it is awkward for many reasons when you are the first one to give the teacher a test or assignment. Many students feel judged by their peers if they are the first one to turn something in, because they feel like they are coming off to others as a know-it-all. It is also uncomfortable to hand the teacher a test first, because it is often assumed that they rushed and didn’t take the time to check their work, therefore students feel that they are giving a bad impression to the teacher.
6. Asking questions in class.
From a student perspective, it is often embarrassing to raise your hand, and ask a question in front of the class. While this doesn’t bother all students, some students feel inferior to their peers when they have to ask a question. Many students will continue to be confused in order to avoid the embarrassment of their classmates knowing that they didn’t understand.
7. Being assigned to a group project with people you don’t know.
From a student perspective, it is extremely awkward and uncomfortable to be placed in a group with unfamiliar people. This is strange because if you are nervous about not knowing your group members, chances are they are feeling the same way about you.
8. Calling someone by the wrong name.
From a teacher perspective, it is extremely embarrassing to refer to a student by the wrong name. Many teachers have accidentally called a student by the wrong name simply because they were mixed up. This is embarrassing for teachers because they assume that the student believes that they don’t know their name. This typically isn’t the case. Teachers have to learn so many names, it is easy to accidentally call someone by the wrong name simply as a mistake, whether that be a stutter, a mix-up, or getting confused with another name that is similar.
9. Receiving an award during class.
From a student perspective, it is embarrassing to be singled out in any way, but especially if it is for an award. This makes many students feel that they are bragging to other students, even if they barely acknowledge the award at all.
10. Telling a teacher about a problem in your personal life
From a student perspective, it is very uncomfortable to share something personal with a teacher. This can be embarrassing for many reasons. One reason is that students feel like a burden when their personal lives affect something regarding school. Another reason is that many students want to maintain a professional appearance to their teachers. This shouldn’t be embarrassing, because it is completely normal to have issues come up in your personal life, and teachers care about your wellbeing and want to help in any way they can.