Friday, April 26, 2013

Lies and Implications

Have you ever stretched the truth at an interview? Did someone ask you if you think you might like to do  something, and you said yes even though you had no intention of doing it? And did answering "yes" at the time seem harmless because the interviewer would never find out whether you actually did that thing once you were accepted, and it wouldn't really matter anyway? Well, I've done it, and I've learned that these lies do come back to haunt you. Because answers have implications.
Some college interview questions:

Q: Do you think you'll play any intramural sports?
A: Yeah, maybe.
What this may imply:
-You enjoy being active.
-You enjoy group activities.
-You enjoy organized activities.
-You like to do things like this just for fun - playing against other schools in front of a big crowd is not essential.
-You will be able to manage doing an activity and still get your schoolwork done.
-You don't have any other deep interest that is going to consume your time to the point that you wouldn't be able to play an intramural sport. This includes just wanting a lot of unstructured time to yourself.

Q: Do you think you'd like to study abroad?
A: Sure, that sounds like fun.
What this may imply:
-You are okay being far away from home and having limited contact with family and friends.
-You are okay being away from the comforts of your home.
-You are flexible and okay with changes to your lifestyle and routine.
-You can afford to study abroad (even if you get financial aid, things like passports and vaccinations).
-You can academically afford to study abroad; if your school won't count the credits, you have extra AP credits or are willing to take extra classes.
-The first-year process - being in a new environment, getting a roommate you didn't pick, etc. - is acceptable enough that you're willing to go through it again.
-You have a very strong interest in another culture that outweighs any other issues.

Q: Do you think you'll write a senior thesis?
A: Yeah, maybe.
What this may imply:
-You are good at writing; writing a 100+ page paper sounds like something you could do.
-You have a topic of deep interest that you would want to spend a lot of time learning about.
-You like doing research.
-Your academic work is important to you; you're not just at school to have fun.
-You are willing to have less free time or give up other things you like to do in order to work on your thesis.

These are just a few examples, but you get the idea. I'm not saying that you should think about all these implications while you're answering a question; that would probably make you self-conscious and could actually prevent you from giving honest answers if you don't fit the profile of most people who like to do something that you like to do. But you should just be aware that when you stretch the truth a little, you might be saying more than you think you're saying. Even a small lie like, "Yeah, broomball sounds like fun," means more than that. It says, I'm the kind of person who thinks broomball is fun. And you don't know what that means. It's not that the person interviewing you is actually assessing you for all these related traits - it's that you may find that your school is designed for people who do want to play intramural sports or write a thesis or study abroad, and you may not fit in and like it there. If an honest answer of "No," is enough to not get you into the school, then it probably wasn't the right choice for you to begin with.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Friends, Cliques, and that Sense of Belonging

Being part of a group and feeling a sense of belonging has always been a bit confusing for me. When I went to a 2-week theatre camp (not overnight) during high school summers, the students automatically divided into 2 groups: students who were really serious about theatre, and students who were just there to have fun. I was very serious about theatre, but for some reason, I always hung out with students who were less serious. The same was true with my friends in high school drama club - even though I was serious about acting, I just never found my place in a group of actors. I had great friends in high school, but I couldn't help wondering why I didn't fit in with any serious theatre groups. Did that make me less of a serious actor? I found the answer in college.

My first year of college, I signed up to live a substance-free dorm. I figured we would do all the same fun things, just without having to get drunk. But I found that being chem-free at my college was like being part of a clique.  There was an expectation that if you didn't drink, you cared more about academics, wanted to have intellectual conversations outside of class, and cared less about having fun on the weekends. I was weird for loving pop music and teen movies, for enjoying dances, for wanting a big birthday party, for wanting to go clubbing as soon as I was old enough, for not being outdoorsy, for not liking tofu, for not calling myself a geek or a nerd, for being hedonistic, and for having fun as a priority. These things that are not weird at all in the real world made me not fit in to the chem-free world of my college, even though they have nothing to do with drinking.

A group at my school held discussions about issues once a month which, supposedly, welcomed everyone. However, every single talk that I attended turned into a conversation about how we don't talk about these issues enough in our personal lives, that not enough of the student body attends these discussions, and we should be pushing people who don't like to come to talks to come to talks. I am against pressuring people to do stuff, I am not interested in attending a lot of discussions, and I am not okay with being told what I need to talk about with my friends on my own time. When I attend a discussion about cyber-bullying, I expect it to be about cyber-bullying, not about the fact that it's the same group of people at every discussion. We spend more time talking about that than about the topic. I would never have attended a single discussion if I knew that they would be full of pressure to go to more talks and would encourage us to pressure others.

The problem here is that, while clubs claim that their events are for everyone, everyone assumes that the attendees are the same people who go to every discussion and who pressure other people to go. When you attend a talk about issue A, people make assumptions that you also care a lot about issues B, C, D, even if they aren't really related to the first issue. People assume that you want to join a club or go to more events about issue A, even if you only wanted to attend that one event. They also assume that you care so much about issue A that you support pressuring or even requiring people to talk about it.  Just like living a substance-free dorm, there are always extra associations. That's why I don't fit in to groups that are about something - because it's never just about that one thing. Even though I had always identified as an actor, most groups of actors have other things in common besides just a love of acting, and I wouldn't necessarily belong in those other ways.


But beyond these extraneous associations, I think I just don't like my relationships with people to be based on anything. I've met many high school friends through clubs and activities, but our friendships weren't really based on the activities. We enjoyed spending the time together and having the common interest, but if either of us had quit (not quit like, "I really want to do this, but I'm too busy," - quit like, "I'm not interested  in this anymore," or "I don't care about this issue anymore") it wouldn't have made a different in our friendship. Nothing like that really mattered. But in college, I didn't get that sense. If I met someone at an event and we started talking and getting along, the person might ask me if I was going to the next related event. When I would say no, they wouldn't accept it. They'd start asking why and really try to push me to go, and then ask about the event after that, or the next one after that. Now, I understand that asking about the next event might be a logical way to see a person again. I would probably ask the same thing. But if the person said no and I still wanted to be friends, I would ask if they wanted to do something else, like going to lunch together. Or I would at least say that I hoped we could get together some other time. The fact that they weren't coming to the next related event wouldn't really matter to me - it just would have been a place to see them. But in college, I could tell it wasn't that way for other people - they had bonded with me because they thought I would be at all of these events. They didn't like that the event was just a one-time thing for me. They didn't want to pursue a friendship outside of the issue or activity that the event was about.
It used to be common to ask friends about things that were going on in their lives, but there were some friends whom I couldn't safely do that with. There were friends who would never talk about their clubs or events or causes without pushing me to join. And I don't mean a casual, "You should come check this out tonight." I mean, it was a very big deal to them and it was really taking a toll on our friendship - they had a problem with my not joining and I had a problem with their pressuring.

I understand that some people like to be pushed because it helps them to do what they really want to do - I know lots of people who want to exercise more and like to have a work-out buddy who pushes them to do what they wanted to do in the first place. And I can understand how a friendship between people like this would work out just fine. But everyone isn't like that. Everyone doesn't want to be pushed. I actually stop enjoying something if I feel pressured to do it. Even though I love acting, even though I would love to have someone to practice with and exchange tips and advice, I would never get along with someone who pushes me to practice my lines when I don't feel like it, or makes me feel like I need to attend the play when I'd rather not.

In answer to that question I had back in high school - not fitting into a group of serious actors, athletes, musicians, or whatever does not mean that you are less serious or that you can't identify yourself that way. Where you feel that sense belonging is very personal and is not always related to a common interest or passion. The only groups I've ever felt at home in are groups that don't have a purpose or a basis. Groups of people who just happen to be friends.  My friends aren't all part of one clique. They'll never all be in the same picture. But they are all where I belong.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Inertia and the Positive Push

The article from my previous post, Inertia: From Theory to Praxis, got me thinking about pressure, and what people refer to as "positive pressure." As the article above states, what you want to do does not always relate to what you actually do. I have said before that there is no such thing as positive pressure, but I would like to clarify that peer influence can be positive if you find that an extra push helps you to accomplish tasks.

A lot of people find pressure useful when they are having a hard time doing something. I know many people who work better if they're part of a study group, because having to prepare for the group motivates them to get their work done earlier.  Lots of people like to exercise regularly with a friend because meeting the friend ensures that they will exercise. Some people just function better if they are around other people who are functioning a certain way, like using a roommate's schedule to help you stay on schedule. In all of these cases, pressure is positive assuming that:
1. It helps the person to do something that they wanted to do.
2. The person chose to join a study group or have a work-out buddy or a roommate because they work better that way.

Another kind of positive influence is the kind that helps people to do things they would like to do by reducing inertia. For example: if you and some friends decide to collect food for the homeless or volunteer at the elementary school and you ask other friends if they'd like to join you, you will probably get a lot of volunteers who would love to help out but wouldn't necessarily organize or look into something on their own. You also might bring up an issue that makes someone think, "Wow, I didn't realize that was such a big problem. I want to try to fix it." As long as you just ask people without pressuring, this is a positive influence because you're suggesting ways to help out that other people might not have thought of or pursued.

Peer influence can be positive. Very positive, depending on how you work. When I say that "positive pressure" isn't really positive, I'm talking about unwanted pressure to do objectively positive things. Like, someone pushing you to join a study group, go to the gym, or attend an event when you don't want to, and claiming that they are doing the right thing because they've pushed you into something positive. Whether pressure is good or bad has nothing to do with whether you're being pushed to get drunk or get your haircut or get involved in your community - it's about whether you actually want to do something, and how you work best when getting it done.

Guide to Accomplishing Goals

This article is a great guide for learning how to accomplish goals and tasks. Unlike most articles that have a one-size-fits-all approach to getting things done, this article acknowledges that everyone works differently. Instead of giving straight instructions, the article provides questions to ask yourself that will help you discover how you work best, and create a plan that helps you to accomplish the things you want to do:

Inertia: From Theory to Praxis

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Matilda the Musical!

I am so psyched for this musical version of Matilda! I haven't seen it yet, but I found a couple of videos and order the soundtrack.

This is Matilda's song. These four different girls rotate as Matilda in the London cast - they're doing a special performance here for the Olivier Awards. This song has a great message, especially for kids:

Matilda: "Naughty"

This is a chorus song, performed at the Royal Variety:

Matilda: "When I Grow Up"

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My Fictional Heroes

I came across this article, Literary Introverts of my Childhood, in which the blogger explains that her literary heroes were introverts like her. It got me thinking about how many of my fictional heroes are introverts and how many are extroverts.

The Introverts

Harriet the Spy

Harriet the Spy is a character I have always loved and admired. I saw the movie in third grade and read the book in fifth grade. I loved that Harriet kept notebooks and wrote about everyone and everything. She actually inspired me to start keeping my own journals. I thought being a spy like Harriet would be so cool. But what I loved about Harriet more than her spying or her writing was just how important these things were to her. Even when her classmates read what she's written about them and all gang up on her, she never backs down. She writes right in front of them to let them know that she's not backing down. Her spying and writing are more important to her than not having the entire class hate her. Harriet even says the if she had to choose between being a spy and having friends, she'd pick spying. That was really inspirational to me. Now that I'm older, I would pick having friends, but when I first saw the movie and for the first half of my life, there were a lot of things that were more important to me than having friends. Most of children's media tells us that having friends and being social are the most important things to strive for, so to hear Harriet say that spying was more important to her made me feel like, "Wow. I'm not the only one." And Harriet lives by her own priorities. When her parents take her notebooks away because of all the trouble they've caused, she stops doing her schoolwork. She's not willing to function and do all that stuff she's supposed to do if she can't have what actually matters to her.

Harriet always knows exactly what she wants. She knows she wants to be writer. She eats the same tomato sandwich every day. People try to get her to try different sandwiches, but she knows what she likes. She's not wandering around trying to figure things out like her peers, and it's hard for them to accept that. Her nanny, Golly, tells Harriet, "You're an individual and that scares people, and it's going to keep scaring people your whole life."
"What do I do?" Harriet asks.
"You stay true to Harriet and accept the cost."

When Harriet's classmates are upset by what she's written about them, the common response we might expect is for Harriet apologize for writing what she did and say that what she wrote isn't true. But she doesn't do that because she has right to write whatever she wants in her private notebooks and it was her friends' faults for reading her notebook without permission in the first place. It actually takes a while before Harriet really starts to miss her friends and realize that she wants them back. Her nanny, Golly, tells her that she will have to apologize and she'll have to lie in order to get her friends back. I had a hard time understanding this when I was younger - how could they be friends again if she lied to get them back? But even so, I liked the acknowledgement that it would be a lie. She did miss her friends, but she wasn't about to say that she shouldn't have written what she did. One of the ways that Harriet and her friends get back together is that while she's missing them, they also start to miss her. They start to feel like they want to be friends again because they actually like Harriet.

The story ends with Harriet becoming editor of the school newspaper, using the information in her notebooks to write things that people liked to read, and apologizing to everyone by retracting what was in her notebooks. What I love about this ending is that Harriet grows as a writer and uses her passion to fix the problem, rather than cutting back on her passion. I also love that she never actually apologizes for writing in her own notebooks - she "retracts" them from the newspaper, from the public. There's a difference.

At the end of the book, Harriet says, "Golly's right. Sometimes you have to lie."
At the end of the movie, Harriet says, "The truth is important, but so are your friends. And if you can have them both, then it's a good life."

I struggled with this concept when I was younger. Watching it when I was older made me realize that there was a way to stay friends and not stop being truthful or being yourself.  Harriet managed to stay friends without losing the truth or what mattered to her in the process. She made me realize that if you have good friends, you can resolve a conflict like hers without compromising what matters to you.

Harriet is definitely an introvert in my mind because she's happy doing her own thing. She has good friends but isn't very concerned about what other people think of her. She is interested in other people for entertainment purposes, like she's watching a movie, but she doesn't care about being liked or fitting in. Socializing isn't her priority - she's fine telling her friends that she can't hang out because she has spying to do.

I think Harriet is the fictional character that I identify with the most.

Amelia's Notebooks 

Before I even knew Amelia, I loved her because of her notebooks. All of Amelia's notebooks are actually handwritten (not just a font that looks like handwriting). She writes down everything and draws her own illustrations. Her margins are always filled with her observations - lists of fun things to do on long car rides and things she hates about long car rides, drawings of different people's hands and what they show about the people - side-track things that make her notebooks feel like real notebooks.  She writes short stories based on what's on her mind - they're not wonderful stories, but the way she includes them in her notebook feels realistic. I love the way that she uses illustrations to show how she's feeling. Her notebooks were what I aspired my journals to look like. One time Amelia's new step-mom read her notebook without permission and Amelia had to decontaminate the notebook afterwards. That's exactly what I would do, and I thought, "Wow. We're so much alike." And I admired her passion - how she put so much effort into something that was just for herself.

I'm pretty sure Amelia is an introvert because she doesn't hang out with large groups of people. She has her best friend Carly, her friend Leah, and her old best friend Nadia from before she moved. But that's it. She doesn't talk about anyone else as being a friend. When she had to move in her first notebook, the only person she was really going to miss was Nadia. She never mentioned or stayed in touch with anyone else.

The other reason Amelia is an introvert is that she really has her own world - she does write a lot about her friends and family, but she also talks about her other interests and her general observations of things. She would like to fit in, but she's not extremely concerned about what's going on at school unless it interests her or it affects her personal world. In her middle school notebooks, Amelia worries about not being cool or grown-up enough for Carly, but it's because she doesn't want to lose Carly as a friend. Amelia wouldn't care much about being cool or acting like a seventh-grader on her own because she's happy just doing her own thing.

A Wrinkle in Time  

A Wrinkle in Time has always been one of my favorite books. Meg has to travel with her brother Charles Wallace and her new friend Calvin to rescue her father from a planet billions of light years away.  I love the adventure and the characters. Meg starts off very insecure and hating herself. She doesn't fit in at school, gets into trouble, and people think she's dumb. But she's not dumb. In fact, everyone in her family is very smart. But they don't always fit in to their social world. Everyone thought Charles Wallace was dumb because he didn't speak until he was about five (the book is from 1962, so people might not have considered autism), but when he did begin speaking, his speech was very advanced and he could also read people's minds. Meg is doing badly in math class because she has learned so many tricks and shortcuts and doesn't understand how to do math the long, drawn-out way that her school requires. Meg's brothers Sandy and Dennys are super-smart also, but they manage to blend in at school - they play sports, they're popular, they don't let on to how different they are from their classmates. Calvin is sort of the same way - he's athletic, popular, and hides how super-smart he is. In the sequel book, A Wind in the Door, Calvin and Meg learn to kythe, or communicate telepathically without speaking. All these characters have exceptional powers.

I love the characters' journey and all the things they encounter, but in terms of Meg, I like that she doesn't try to pass for something that she isn't. It's hard to tell in an adventure story whether someone is an introvert or an extrovert because the characters are in an emergency situation, but I think Meg might be an introvert not ecause she's socially awkward and doesn't fit in, but because it's not worth it for her to try to fit in. Sandy and Dennys seem to like having a lot of friends and socializing and having a typical school experience. For them, acting like everyone else is not to avoid being outcast, but to be able to have fun with their peers. As much as Meg would like to fit in, she doesn't seem like she would enjoy hiding part of herself. Calvin hides that part of himself to fit in, but he isn't happy. I like that Meg never acts - everyone knows how she is feeling and she never tries to hold it together. I relate to her a lot in that way. Meg grows a lot in the story - after having to save her father's life and pull Charles Wallace out of a deep hypnosis, I think she figures out that she's not dumb, that she is capable regardless of what her peers say.

Matilda


I've always loved the story of Matilda. I loved the book and have watched the movie over and over again. I love the relationship that Matilda has with Miss Honey, and Miss Trunchbull makes a perfect villain. Most of us have had our share of Miss Trunchbulls and Miss Honeys in school. Maybe our mean teachers never threw kids out the window, but we imagine that they would. Maybe teachers don't actually adopt students whose parents don't want them, but a lot of us have had strong bonds with teachers, and some kids probably feel a parent-like bond if they don't have a good home life. And there are families like Matilda's - maybe not exactly like hers, but the way they treat her isn't unrealistic. And while not many four-year-olds could learn to read on their own and find their way to the library from a phone book address, that concept of having to do everything on your own because your parents don't care is not far-fetched. Matilda is like an exaggerated realistic story. I love that she's so smart and brave and does everything on her own, like getting books from the library and getting Miss Honey's doll out of Miss Trunchbull's house. I love that she finds her telekinetic power and uses it to drive Miss Trunchbull out of the school. It's not just about moving things around with her mind - it's about finding a hidden strength. I love it when the kids stand up to Miss Trunchbull - the scene where Matilda gets the kids to start cheering for Bruce when Miss Trunchbull is forcing him to eat cake is one of my favorites.


I had never thought of Matilda as an introvert until I read that article on Psychology Today. I think she's an introvert because socializing is not her number one desire. Matilda didn't have any friends before she started school, and if she was smart enough to find her way to library, she could have just as easily gone to a nearby park and played with other kids. In the movie, she actually reads her books at the playground instead of playing. Matilda has great friends, but social activities are not the center of her world.

The Extroverts

Harry Potter 

The Harry Potter books are my absolute favorites. Harry Potter is my number one fictional hero, although I don't have the same personal connection with him as I do with the other characters I've mentioned. Harry is an extrovert. Some people question whether Harry might be an introvert because he keep some things to himself (like detention with Umbridge) and he wants to do thing by himself (so his friends don't die). A lot of people think of Hermione as introverted because she likes to read and isn't the most popular or sociable person. But I think that almost all the Hogwarts students we encounter - with the possible exception of Luna - are extroverted. Why? Because they are always doing everything together. I'm not talking about when they are out fighting the Death Eaters - I'm judging based on how the students act when they are safe at Hogwarts. They always seem to spend their free time with other people. Someone might sit alone if they're angry with their friends or if they desperately need to finish their homework, but you never really see any of the students, even Hermione, just do something alone in their free time because they like to be alone. Luna seems like the only Hogwarts student we know well who might be an introvert because she's comfortable in her own world.

Like A Wrinkle in Time, it is very hard to judge introversion/extroversion in stories with a lot of adventure. If the characters have to be with people constantly in order to fight evil or save the world, you can't really know whether they enjoy being surrounded by people or not. I was trying to figure out whether Dorothy from the The Wizard of Oz was an introvert or an extrovert, and I really couldn't tell because we don't see much of her normal daily life.

Another thing to keep in mind is that introverts enjoy alone time - it's something that they would choose. Some people classify fictional outcasts as introverts, but that's like saying that someone who is sick in bed for the whole story would rather read books than play outside. That might be true, but you can't really determine that when the character wasn't able to play outside. Someone who is ostracized by their peers or who withdraws from people because of depression or a traumatic experience does not necessarily prefer to be alone. Harriet (before the kids read her notebook), Amelia, and Matilda are not hated by their peers - they just find that socializing with their peers is not their first choice.

As Told by Ginger 

I didn't really like As Told by Ginger when I first saw it on TV, but the show grew on me as I got older. When I first watched the show in 7th grade, the characters seemed a lot older than me, even though we were supposed to be the same age. But by the end of 8th grade, I could relate to it a lot more.  I like that Ginger was insightful - that we would get to hear her thoughts on what was going on, what she was writing in her diary. I also liked Ginger as a character because she stood by her beliefs. Even though she wanted to be liked and cared what people thought about her, she was loyal to her friends.  Her friend Dodie often acted like she would do anything to become popular, but when Ginger was friends with Courtney, the most popular girl in school she didn't compromise her standards or jeopardize her other friendships in order to be popular. She stood up to the popular kids when she needed to (which is probably why Courtney liked her in the first place).

(TW: suicidal thoughts) I went a while without thinking about As Told by Ginger until I went searching for it in college. There was an  episode called "And She Was Gone," which for some reason, I had never seen before, but it made me fall in love with the show again. In this episode, Ginger gets sent to the school counselor because she wrote a poem that sounded suicidal. The show just barely touches upon the issue because her poem was not actually suicidal. But still, the reaction to her poem was something that I could relate to a lot. I liked this episode best because it really got inside of Ginger's mind. I used to watch it over and over again. My other favorite episode was "A Lesson in Tightropes," because we get to see all the thoughts that run through Ginger's mind while she's having surgery.

I liked the way that the characters evolve, how they don't stay frozen in time forever like a lot of TV characters do. Ginger starts dating her friend Daren and her friends have a hard time with it and learn to adjust. All of their friendships become strained when they enter high school and are headed in different directions. Daren breaks up with Ginger, but somehow they end up together eventually, as we see in a flash-forward in the final episode. The show does have some issues (like why Macie's allergies are such a big part of character), but the way that the characters change made it much more real and relatable to me.

At first I thought Ginger could be an introvert because she's so introspective, but now I'm pretty sure she's an extrovert because she is very social. Ginger has her best friends, but she talks to everyone else as well and seems to enjoy being social. Unlike Amelia, who has her own world inside her notebooks, Ginger uses her diary to write about her external world.

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I guess when it comes to fictional characters, I don't always have a preference for introverts over extroverts. It really depends on the story and on the individual. I guess I like a combination of introverts, extroverts, and characters who can't be classified.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Outliers

An outlier is someone or something that isn't part of the group, or in statistics, someone that doesn't follow the common pattern or trend.  In my psychology statistics class, our professor showed us a graph of test scores on introductory psychology exams from previous years, which showed that most students' grades increase from the first exam to the second. There were only 3 students whose grades were much lower on the second exam, whose data points did not fit into the pattern of the others. Our professor explained that if we included those 3 people when making a of line best fit from the data points, the entire line would change and would not accurately represent the majority of students. Therefore, we exclude outliers from the line graph.

I understand why people exclude outliers for statistical trend purposes, but seeing those 3 people get dropped made me cringe. The idea behind excluding outliers is that these people have circumstances that aren't related to the study. Ex: if someone was sick the day of the second exam, they probably wouldn't do as well on the test as they normally would have. The key phrase here is as they normally would have. We're assuming that these 3 people had unusual circumstances that caused them not to follow the trend, but if not for those unusual circumstances, everyone would have fallen into the same pattern. But we don't know this for sure. I personally don't fall into this trend. I usually do the best on my earlier exams because I get busier as the semester goes on. This pattern is normal for me. Maybe it's normal for those 3 outliers as well. Maybe there's a whole group of us whose grades follow a different pattern, but we're written off like our experience doesn't matter.

(Trigger Warning: suicidal thoughts) Someone I know was taking medicine for a physical problem, when she began feeling depressed and suicidal. No one could figure out what was wrong, and she thought the medicine might be making her feel that way. As it turned out, the medicine did have a very rare side effect of making people feel suicidal. The doctor explained that several people who had taken the medication were documented as experiencing the same symptoms, but since such a small group of people had these symptoms, the people were written off as outliers, as exceptions to the norm. As a result, none of these people were informed about this potential symptom.

I think the reason I felt so defensive of those 3 outliers in statistics class is because I was an outlier at the time. My college was rated one of the top schools for student happiness, and almost everyone who goes there loves it. I didn't like college, and when I talked about my own experience, no one believed that the school was the problem. I was constantly being invalidated, being told that I must have some other problem because my college couldn't possibly be that bad. Anytime I filled out a survey about my college experience, I worried that it would get discarded. When you're the outlier, no one believes that your experience is real.

I understand that most studies won't cover every related issue. Our professor wasn't trying to get into all the individual and personality differences that make students' test scores follow different patterns; she was probably trying to figure out what would benefit most students. I'm not saying that people need to alter lines of best fit, but people do need to acknowledge the experiences of outliers - not just the outliers who were sick the day of the psych study, but the outliers who, under typical circumstances, actually follow a trend that differs from the norm. We exist, we are real, and our experiences are just as valid as anybody's.