Before you continue reading, know that this this post is personal. The ideas expressed are, entirely, subjective.
the state or condition of being liked, admired, or supported by many people.
I’m too ordinary for it and that’s okay.
I remember what primary school was like. I really wanted to be friends with the pretty and cool girls. I hung out with them, but I stuck out like a pink zit- not only because I had them by the time I’d reached grade seven- but because I was skinny and awkward, I’d forced my hair to be straight (and it would rebel and puff, regardless of what I did), and because I kind of did well at school- and that came naturally (nerd name-calling alert). More so, my parents refused to buy my brother and I name-branded and trendy clothes. They didn’t see the point and had rather invested in us having a comfortable home and a childhood filled with experiences (today, I’m so thankful for that). And while I sat with the ‘cool girls’ at break and went out with them at the weekend, they would often tease me because of the above mentioned things. I still don’t like being teased today.
High school was bitter-sweet. I tried being naughty for a while. If EVER I had to try hard to fit in, it was with that crowd. How does one go from being a goody-two-shoes to being a rebel without feeling uncomfortable? But I tried and failed, dismally! Later, in grade 10, I became friends with my (still today) bestie. Her friendship changed my experience of high school. I recall being really upset on days when she’d stay home, because I didn’t have my Robin, and what’s Bat’woman’ without h’er’? (The irony, here, that our names begin with B and R!) In our bubble I’ve always felt loved, accepted, challenged and free! We were a part of a larger group, but even there I felt as though I wasn’t ‘cool’ enough because I wasn’t popular with the boys, nor was I trendy or nasty enough to keep up with what made those individuals ‘cool’. We were labeled ‘The Plastics’ back then; looking back, the only thing plastic about the experience was me being a part of it! Don’t get me wrong, they were (and are) lovely people, the problem was me. I wasn’t willing to be more of myself because I believed that I needed to be more like them to fit in. This is the surface of it all, but I think you get the gist!
Post- high school I became a party girl. My ‘popularity’ (if one can even call it that!) stemmed from being seen- everywhere. I loved that phase. I wore new outfits on a weekly basis. Even though I was an academic, it was a side to my life I could hide with my retail job and ‘flashy’ clothes. But by this time I was proud to be at university- it meant that I had brains, too! I hope that you are reading my sarcasm, because the superficiality of these things cannot be explained! I valued these titles and I valued things- be it clothes, accessories, my car- with which I was pretty arrogant because I didn’t have to rely on anyone to get around (the background story being that I was the only one in my family who could drive, so that entire responsibility fell on my shoulders- but that’s a story for another day). But as I moved along, I sold more and more of my soul until I had very little left. It has taken me years to pick up the pieces. The gaps show up in my anxiety, but I’ve definitely found a place where I’m able to notice the red flags of self-doubt. But as we grow, there are always new things/ ways of doing well at life; there are always new ways to be trendy, to fit in.
Fast forward to 2017: I’m tempted by the popularity of social media. But these stories, and various other personal journeys, have taught me some valuable lessons. To mention a few:
1. I do not have to pretend to like or dislike things or people to fit in with a crowd.
2. Superficiality is a slippery slope to an empty life: those things cannot comfort or listen to me.
3. Popularity, at the expense of my values, isn’t worth it (and trust me, I’ve sold myself short too many times).
4. Doing what I love, daily, matters more than doing what others would love me to do; Satisfying the crowd results in their happiness, not mine.
5. It’s okay to be me: no matter how awkward, talkative, over-enthusiastic, positive, pessimistic, and downright ‘versin’ I can be (sorry, there really isn’t a formal equivalent!) I have to be these things to be my authentic self.
6. Real-life relationships matter more than online clicks and followers- I really have to talk to myself about this one when the blog does well with one post and slumps with the next three. It’s difficult, but it’s a truth I have to keep driving home.
7. I have to remind myself what my best days were filled with: often these days are undocumented- when they were so fun-filled and comforting that nobody remembered to take the photograph!
8. Reaching a small group/audience in a meaningful way is far more valuable; Making a difference in this way really gives a sense of purpose.
9. I have to follow my intuition: if in doubt, don’t!
10. The only opinion that really matters, is mine! And I have to remember to keep that opinion (of myself and others) healthy.
So even on days when I am most ‘popular’ I seldom enjoy it, because the possibility of being irrelevant the next day is far too real. People are flippant. Our preferences change. And let’s face it, in the face of true popularity, I’m pretty ordinary.