Dear Annie: I am a 16-year-old girl having trouble with teasing. I've had low self-confidence issues since I started high school, but I've been meek and reserved around crowds since the beginning of middle school, and quiet most of my life.
Recently, my friends have been torturing me by making me the butt of ugly jokes. When I complain about their cruelty, they insist they are kidding and immediately say I'm not "half bad," but it doesn't take away the sting. These jokes are really wearing me down.
My low self-esteem hinders me in ways that normal teen-aged girls shouldn't be, like avoiding public places, fearing that others will look at me and judge my appearance, making new friends, speaking out with my own opinion, and maybe even trying to capture the eye of a boy. My mother is also complaining that I am becoming "too skinny," only because I am trying to look more like one of my best friends, whom the teasers seem to favor over me.
My main concern is just trying to get these horrible jokes to stop, and then working on trying to build self-esteem afterward, but I can't seem to get my friends to understand the severity of their jokes, no matter what I say. Any suggestions? Crushed Confidence in California
Dear Crushed: You need some new friends. These girls know how to push your buttons, and they enjoy doing it. This isn't friendship, it's sadism. As long as you keep reacting, they will continue making you the victim of their jokes. When they tease you, sigh as if you are bored and change the subject.
You are obviously bright and sensitive, but the fact that you think you need to become thinner to be liked indicates a serious problem. You deserve to think better of yourself. Your school counselor and your parents can help. Talk to them.
Dear Annie: My 12-year-old son has been invited to three bat/bar mitzvahs, and I expect there are more invitations on the horizon. The ones he has attended have been lavish affairs at large hotels and country clubs. It seems that most of his class gets invited to these functions, whether or not they are close friends of the honoree.
My son enjoys attending the parties, so I send him off in his jacket and tie with a card for the child, enclosing cash in the amount that I feel it costs the parents to have him there -- usually $50.
Is a bar/bat mitzvah similar to a wedding in that, if my son does not attend (and doesn't know the child all that well), we are still expected to give a gift? It is starting to get expensive. Party Mom
Dear Party Mom: If your son does not attend, and is not a close friend of the child in question, he is not obligated to give a gift. We trust this helps balance the bank account.
Dear Annie: I hope it's not too late to add my two cents worth to the letter from "Music Lover," whose dream is to be a musician. Many years ago, Blackie Lawless of the metal band W.A.S.P. said in an interview, "The music business is not for people who want to do it; it's for people who have to do it."
"Music Lover" has to be honest with himself. If he simply wants to perform, he should join community groups or go to local clubs that have "open mic" nights. However, if music is an obsession that consumes his life, and is more important than anything else, he should drop everything and follow his heart.
It doesn't sound to me as if there is a gaping chasm in his soul that needs to be filled. I would tell him to join a band, sing every day and enjoy music for the beautiful gift it is, but not to quit his day job. Musician in the Midwest
Dear Musician: Too many starry-eyed, would-be musicians simply want the fame and fortune, and that often requires more luck than talent. Thanks for writing.
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