June 27, 2007

Where are the Popular Kids?

I've noticed a disturbing trend in the Blogosphere. Apparently, we have no Prom Queens or Homecoming Queens in our midst. Time after time, when referring to their high school years, you will see bloggers ruefully declare "I was such a nobody!" or the classic "I was such a geek!". I've never, ever seen a blogger admit they were a Popular Kid. Have you?

I was thinking about this last week because a friend of mine my high school was in town, but we didn't get to meet. She's my one, last "current" friend from high school, but truthfully, we weren't even friends in school - we became friends afterwards, when we went to college.

I've talked often about how much I dislike the town of Tonganoxie. To be fair, the town didn't like me very much, either. I moved there mid-year during 6th grade, just after my parents' divorce. It was not a good time in my life anyway, plus I was coming on that tender of age of 12. I suspect I had an attitude when I arrived. I never, ever felt that I fit in while I lived there. Ever. I was always on the edge, looking in. However, while I may not have been a Somebody, I wasn't a Nobody, either. I was very active and the Popular Kids couldn't exactly pretend I didn't exist - I was in volleyball, cross country, track, Science Club, Knowledge Bowl, stage band, marching band, regular band, etc. etc. I even did one year as a cheerleader, although I certainly wasn't the cheerleader "type". And let me be clear -- I didn't really excel at any of these activities (a trend that seems to be the story of my life and contributed to the tagline of this blog). I merely enjoyed doing the activities, but was far more likely to come in 2nd or 3rd place- rarely 1st (I have a stack of silver and bronze track medals to prove it.) And really, I was okay with that - I've never been a superstar. Whatever.

So, I was much relieved to get the hell outta high school. It was stifling for me. Shortly after graduation, I moved to my dad and step-mom's in Lawrence, then got an apartment when I started KU that fall. I never looked back and never felt an iota of homesickness. In fact, when my sister graduated from Tonganoxie 5 years later, I celebrated the fact that I would never have to go back there. She later moved back and I'll admit that I was petty enough to be resentful of it. It's only been since Arun was born that I am comfortable going there now - I want him to know his cousins and as a testament to what a Mother's Love will do for a person, I make the trek out to Leavenworth County far more frequently than I ever thought I'd be doing.

Where was I? Ah, "not belonging". Bloggers often joke that the Blogosphere is like high school. Sometimes, it is. But usually, it's more like college to me. When I went to college I felt so free of the social anxieties that had plagued me during high school. In college, I easily found a group that I liked to hang with and never looked back. I loved college and while I still wasn't cool, it didn't matter by then. I had a group in which I belonged. And, so it is with blogging. I will never be a Power Blogger, I will never be a Popular Kid, I will never have throngs of readers hanging on to my every post. At one point, I think I did harbor grand visions of having hordes of readers (don't we all in the beginning?) but I discovered along the way that's not what I actually need from blogging. I just need to belong somewhere. That's all.

Anyway, back to the title - where are the Popular Kids in the blogosphere? Do Prom Queens not have Internet access or something? Come on - admit it if you were a Popular Kid.

We'll still hang out with you.

I wasn't kidding.
This picture was taken at Olathe Grandma's house. I think I wore this outfit only ONCE to school - I felt too self-conscious to wear it otherwise. With good reason. Don't even get me started on the big-honkin' glasses. Good grief.

22 comments:

Md. Macaca said...

Nice post.

Like you, I'm so glad hs is over-- I look back with no nostalgia whatsoever.

Also: I don't remember if we had the same sort of stratification in India-- I was geeky but I was also semi-cool in a "I'm too cool to belong but everyone still thinks I'm hilarious" sort of way.

What I do remember though, was that for my batch of classmates.. being sexually active was considered a very un-cool thing to do

Md. Macaca said...

And also: That outfit is so Kyle Minogues circa 1980s. Gotta love the purple!

Christy said...

That picture is hilarious! I love the leg warmers.

Like you, I wasn't a prom queen in high school, but I wasn't a nerd either. I was a gothic kid. I was way too cool to join any organized sports or activities. However, I did socailize with a wide variety of people. One of my best friends was a cheerleader.

I haven't ever really talk about high school on my blog. It seems like high school was largely uneventful. I agree that college was much better.

Leah said...

Great post, I totally agree. I think that most bloggers are pretty comfortable with themselves, their writing, and their readership. And if they are whiney and annoying, I don't have to read them! It's a great system. :)

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

I went to a very well-known academically inclined high school in Massachusetts notorious for the number of Tracy Flicks produced per graduating class, and we really did not have them. The football team was a joke-all the kids who would have been on football in other parts of the country ran track or did lacrosse because we were New England like that. The majority of the "jocks" were in my honors classes and went on to places like Georgetown or Harvard or Yale. I refuse to go to my 10 year high school reunion because despite the fact that I went to some reasonably well-recognised schools I am DEFINITELY on the "low end" of the now Rhodes and Fullbright scholar glutted alumni of my school. They all give me bad self-esteem because compared to them I am not a surgeon from Harvard and I did not operate on Britney Spear's brain last weekend or whatnot.

As for my place in this pond-since we didn't have cheerleaders (at all) or any of that-I would say I was among the class of people you'd call "floater" or maybe a "bad slacker nerd". I was captain of the debate team, which is where most of the "slacker nerds" congregated but I had my fingers in a few different pies because my good friends from middle school were all athletic captains.

It was a miserable experience but not for the social stratification. The pressure to succeed and go to Harvard or MIT like everyone else was unbearable. And this is even after the high school eliminated valedictorian, class rank and AP designations from classes after an unfortunate rash of suicides.

At least it was a public school. My brother-in-law went to Phillips Academy which my high school taken to the Nth degree.

I was sort of a dork in middle school but my dorky friends in middle school went on to become really popular jocks and I went on to become an officer in two of the school's most coveted clubs (debate and newspaper) so I have no angst about having been super unpopular or whatever since people wanted shit from me to pad their college resume.

I know, I know...feel sorry for me!!

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

Well the outfit is unfortunate but you are working the Farrah hair, cagey.

Onlythetruth said...

I don't know that I was popular by the standard definition but I wasn't unpopular either. I was a pretty good athlete and was friends with all the jocks but I was also in band and friends with all the band geeks. From all accounts from my hair dresser whom I went to HS with, I was pretty well liked by almost everyone.

College was more of the same, I had friends in almost all groups but I was much more involved in the drama which I hated but I did love college as well.

I can only hope my daughters grow up to approach school like I did, Audrey is well on her way...Abby is not.

Great post and I wish I had a picture of the one outfit in which I hang my head - fluorescent orange overalls paired with a loud yellow hawaiian shirt with my hair all bleached out with sun in - it is a classic!

Onlythetruth said...

The comment above is me Flybunny but for some reason I can't sign in with my Flybunny account - I will keep working on it....

Jenny said...

Regarding that picture - I had the same look:
Farrah Fawcett hair - check.
Coke bottle glasses - check.
Brightly colored velour minidress - check.
I can't tell from your pic, but I had the braces going, too. It was such a nice look.

I don't know why the blogosphere is so heavy on those of us who were the bottom of the foodchain in highschool. Except that technology has always been the nerd's revenge, look at Bill Gates. And also, there is something validating about being able to get an audience in a world that would never listen to us if they knew who we really were.

Diana said...

You 'know' me. I've wittered on abut it. Not popular. Not unpopular. Pretty invisible, actually. Did running sports (before high school, I actually was a running star but then the asthma hit, which led to my times taking a hit, and I fell to the back of the pack) and sang in the big choir (one voice among 100). I exchange Christmas cards with one HS friend. We are so different, now. My very best friend was killed in a car crash 4 years after HS.

College was better. Med school much better. Residency much, much better. It was so nice to feel like I belonged and didn't have to hide being smart. Not brilliant, but smart. It was also nice to be where studying wasn't looked down on, like HS.

I agree whole heartedly with you. The friends I've made blogging are people I feel that I belong with. People I'd genuinely like hanging out with if we lived near each other. I'd not like being a 'popular' blogger. I'd hate the stress and expectations. I'd hate the 100s of superficial comments. I like small and intimate. Those who take the time to leave me a comment actually do so because they want to chat.

That's why I so like your blog. (I'm guessing we would have been rather good friends had we gone to school together. So nice to have found each other via the blogs.)

ps: I had those glasses and that hair. If that picture was in my photo album, no one would guess it wasn't me. Very, very scary.

Dooneybug said...

My, my...that is quite the ensemble! I actually enjoyed high school way more than college. While there were certainly cliques in high school, the whole popular vs. nerd divide really wasn't prevalent at my school. Maybe being a smaller town is why? We had about 175 people in our graduating class. Or maybe I was just so clueless (or didn't really care) that I never picked up on the whole "class" separation?

I've got the same feelings as you on blogging - while people commenting is great and fun and I love it, I don't get worked up over it. It bugs me when I read someone who whines over not being popular in the blog world. It's like, aren't there more important things to worry about?

Average Jane said...

I was highly unpopular in high school - nerdy, a poor dresser and not part of any neighborhood group of friends because I lived in the boonies. Popularity was a moot point for me in college because I lived at home, worked, played in a band and never hung around campus unless I was in a class or waiting for a class to start.

My blogosphere friendships remind me more of my relationships with co-workers at my first long-term job. We all had things in common that made us friends despite our differences. Blogging alone is still enough to set a group of people apart (in a good way) and give them common ground.

Stephanie said...

Grr... I typed out a comment, then clicked on change your account (which normally is fine) and it disappeared.

Anyway, the abbreviated version -- my high school was basically two groups: the kids who cared about school (classes, sports, clubs) and getting the heck out of town after graduation, and those who didn't. Many of our typically "popular" roles, like class officers, prom court, and team captains, were filled by kids who were in advanced and AP classes. I wasn't unpopular -- I had my own circle of close friends (most of whom I am still close with), then a somewhat larger circle of other people we hung out with on a semi-regular basis, but I never would have been known by enough people to fill one of the "popular" roles.

Our football players were mostly nasty guys and the cheerleaders were either totally skanky, or were unpopular girls who thought that was how they could make a name for themselves, but instead were outcast by the skanks. Soccer, baseball & softball, and track were the big sports at our school.

(This is Stephanie, by the way. It is only letting me sign in under my google account for some reason.)

Lisa said...

Wow, you really knew how to rock that red and purple combo. heehee.

You know, we may have looked like dorks back then at least we weren't dressing like street walkers at 9!

Cagey said...

All,
I'm very sad that thus far, no one far come forward to confess that they were a Popular Kid. hee!

Heza Hekele said...

Ah yes. Although my experience was in a latter decade, I would have a similar story if I were to write a post on the subject.

You have good insite. The same forces may have drawn me into the blogosphere..

Anjali said...

Love the picture. What a classic - I think I have the same outfit somewhere!

And I totally get what you mean about being a popular blogger.

Rozanne said...

Great post and very interesting comments.

I was kind of like Diana in high school. Not popular. Not unpopular. All my friends were in band, and our band was a very close-knit group of kids (We competed all over the country and competition helps you bond I think.) We all looked down our noses at the so-called popular kids, most of whom were jocks.

Anyway, my theory is that blogging is the kind of thing that really holds appeal for people who in high school were academically inclined and perhaps who were a bit shy—not exactly the ingredients for high school popularity.

Blondie said...

Um, I was a cheerleader. So was Dorothy. Oops.

Lainey-Paney said...

I was a popular kid.
Drove a snappy little convertible.
My boyfriend was the captain of the football team.
I was a senior class officer & dancer, and...all those things.

Yeah, I was popular.
It made for some great experiences & memories.

And now, I'm popular at home...where it matters most!

Leo said...

Most definitely not popular or in the in-crowd. Clearly, clearly not a cheerleader. Subject to much ridicule in junior high. But I confess to actually enjoying high school. I had really great geeky debate and drama friends, and we had fun. But I grew up in a city in Montana, and I think that may have been easier to accomplish there.

CPA Mom said...

wowsa, I had the same glasses!

I'm not "popular" or "in" but I like it that way. Since I'm passcoded and all...

I like my journal and my friends (YOU!) and am happy in my little corner.