human behavior

No friends at the record store

You can learn a lot from reading the back of a door in a bathroom stall. I’ve learned about Australian patriotism at Sydney International Airport. I’ve learned about breast cancer politics at a local Sydney hospital.

And now I’ve learned about the deep-seated self-loathing affecting some Australian young women.

Exhibit A:

My name is nobody. No matter how hard…

… I try (I assume).

fuckin’ oath. real friends don’t have much of them.

Who does? But I get that this bothers many young women.

I have no friends at the record store. 😦

I thought that was funny. Maybe it was supposed to be?

You are clearly a minority.

Definitely funny reply. But mean.

These are only a few of the words scribbled on a bathroom stall outside of a Sydney Emergency Room. I don’t know that these women were young girls, but I assume so. I think it might be sadder if they weren’t. Feeling alienated and invisible – or worse, actively disliked – is familiar to most women as an unfortunate part of growing up.


Maybe it’s my imagination (or aged brain), but it seems like girls today have it tougher.

Exhibit B:

Never take it seriously. You never take it seriously, you never get hurt, and if you never get hurt, you always have fun, and if you ever get lonely? You just go to the record store and visit your friends.

Classic Aussie humour. A little nice, a little mean, and a lot funny. But the mean-spiritedness wins here, and it makes me sad that this all began with a girl named “Nobody” who was so distraught in her misery that she vandalised an Emergency Room stall. And for what? The bitchy pile on.

I have friends.

Someone wanting to feel better about herself by laughing at “Nobody.”

They probs aren’t real.

Someone wanting to shoot down the laughing girl. The theme here: seek and destroy.

To love is to be loved. You have to take a chance.

Not sure what this girl is getting at. Maybe that “Nobody” and others like her need to put themselves out there?

fuck it. just do it!!!

Ditto this. At least there’s a touch of positivity on this door, albeit not terribly sensitive.

I’m beginning to lose faith in the world.

Exhibit C:

If I was a pancake, I’d have no friends.

Um… because everyone loves pancakes, so even if you were one, you still wouldn’t be liked? I didn’t know Australians were particularly fond of pancakes. (Now I’m being insensitive.) But again, we’ve come full circle – back to the loneliness. And the self-loathing.

But there’s a happy ending to this story:

Girls, you are all BEAUTIFUL

In my imagination, this is an adult woman writing, who read the above scribbles and mourned her childhood self along with the countless girls of Sydney who can’t see an end to the hell that is childhood. Or, it could be a young girl very different from the rest, who wants to see them all survive high school. It’s a nice thought.

This is actually quite a serious subject – and I don’t mean the subject of public vandalism. I would rather that the multitude of girls in Sydney with inner demons attack every public surface in the city than themselves. I’ll pay more money in taxes to clean the bathroom stalls if it means these young women survive to womanhood to reflect on childhood woes.

But not all of them will survive, and not all unscathed.

I had to see a thirteen year old girl in the emergency room whose mother (and teacher) sent her in because of a fainting episode at school. They all thought she’d been taking drugs in an attempted overdose, because she’d tried to kill herself a few weeks before by taking pills.

She hadn’t taken any drugs this time. She’d just not eaten very much that day. She’d even been in good spirits when she started the day, until a girl she didn’t like started saying mean things to her.

I could see that she wasn’t physically ill and didn’t need medical treatment. But she was tearful, avoided eye contact, and expressed deep anger and hate for everyone and every thing. But since she’d also complained of some stomach pain earlier, I examined her abdomen. There were huge scabs on her stomach from self-cutting in the shape of two words:


She was neither. But I found the same on her arms when I took blood.

She didn’t hide them. She may even have wanted me to see them. But I didn’t discuss them. What could I say?

Girl, you are all BEAUTIFUL!

Maybe. But if you’ve reached the point where you carve such things into your flesh, the words of a doctor you’ve just met would be empty I think. Or maybe not. Maybe I should have said something. But I felt impotent in the face of such misery. She was already seeing a counsellor every week who was skilled in these matters.

I did go back and read her file however, to see what diagnoses and treatment she’d been given previously in hospital. She’d been reviewed by the psychiatrists after her overdose and declared not depressed.

Diagnosis: Adjustment disorder.

Hm. I don’t know what this young girl’s life is like – to what challenges she was asked to adjust. But it seems to me that young women today have a much cruder and colder and more shallow world to adjust to than I did.

If they can’t adjust to this world, maybe we should stop demanding that they do, and adjust the world they’re forced to live in instead.

I wish her well.


One Response

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  1. lolly0 said, on September 23, 2012 at 10:09 am

    That is sad. I have to wonder, and maybe I’m wrong? Do the weekly therapy sessions help if they continue to be in the situation that causes them pain in the first place? I really hope so, hopefully they learn skills to help them ignore the words and to realize that the people that spew them ( mean girls ) have issues of their own.

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