Vulnerability

My entire life I had been quiet and kept to myself until high school, when I ran with the “cool crowd.” I joined the cheer team which put me in the spotlight and thrived off all the attention. I felt important and wanted; everyone knew who I was and wanted to be my friend.  I went out almost every weekend and I was convinced this was what it was like to be really happy. For the first time in my life I wasn’t an outsider and I was willing to do whatever I had to to make sure I didn’t go back to being the quiet girl nobody knew. I was img_4585-2invited to every party and I couldn’t ever imagine turning them down. It got to the point where people who didn’t even go to my high school knew who my friends and I were and wanted us to party with them too. I earned the nickname “mom” which I loved because it meant everyone knew they could turn to me when they needed something. It made me feel needed and I was living the life I always wanted.

As high school went on, the novelty of my newfound popularity went away and I realized I wasn’t as happy as I first thought. On the weekends, staying in was never an option unless I wanted to be replaced. Being “mom” was less of me being the person my friends could turn to when they needed help, and more of me being the person they used for rides and borrowed money from. Planning out what I was going to wear to school the night before and having to send pictures to make sure it was good enough went from being fun to demeaning. Not to mention having to hate any girl that wasn’t a part of my immediate friend group because she had something one of them didn’t.

I realized there was a cost to popularity, and it was giving up everything that made me proud of who I was. Having an opinion that was different than what was already accepted was unthinkable. Turning down a party for a girls’ night would never happen, and having friends outside the group was not allowed. Finally, I came to terms with the fact that I had spent my first three years of high school giving up who I was in the pursuit of the social status I had wanted.

The beginning of senior year I realized it was time to finally make the unpopular decision I had been dreading. While everyone was coming together for spirit days and beginning of the year senior assemblies, I did what I never thought I could: my own thing. It sounds ridiculous that just doing something different from my friends was this unthinkable deed, but for me not following the crowd was the most terrifying thing I could do. Just as I thought, my friends were not accepting of this and I very quickly found I didn’t have any friends left. People only wanted to be my friend when they thought that’s what everyone else wanted too. I went from being the girl everyone wanted to be friends with, to the girl that got the weird side looks walking down the hall and no one dared to talk to. I was mortified by my decision to distance myself from them, what was so wrong with just being who my friends wanted me to be?

Processed with VSCO with e3 presetAs time went on though, I discovered who I was again. By deciding to break away from the mold I was able to uncover the girl hidden beneath the facade I had built up throughout the last few years. I realized how much happier I alone being genuinely me than I was being that other person I created. I still see my friends from high school from time to time and we are all doing something different with our lives, it’s a lot like the ending scene of Mean Girls, when they all went separate ways. It was scary taking the step away from my high social status but learning to accept my true, slightly socially awkward, self was so worth it.

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6 thoughts on “Vulnerability

  1. Hi Carissa! I love this post because I went through roughly the same thing my senior year. I was always in the “popular group” from when I met the girls going into Kindergarten and once senior year hit I realized there was more to life than this group and decided to branch out to other friend groups and other high schools. I was looked down on for doing this but the pay off couldn’t have been more rewarding now that I look back on this situation. It was by far the best decision I have ever made.

  2. So cool! In high school I was in the popular crowd in the beginning and than I did my own thing and became friends with the people that were not all about who can drink the most and throw the biggest parties- it then became who can get the best grade on the test and who can run the fastest in after school sports. Stepping outside of yourself and getting away from the social norms you get sucked into by the popularity and excitement of it all is really important- and you did just that. Was there ever a time you thought you made the wrong decision or were you really set in doing your own thing and going your own way? Have you found better friends in college then the ones in high school? And did a lot of your hobbies change once you left that friend group and the title “mom”? This was a really good post, you really related to the audience with an experience that is happening so much now of days- by following the norms of the majority to escape the fear of being abnormal.
    Great job!

  3. Hi Carissa,

    I can relate to the whole popular crowd situation. I used to be in the same situation my sophomore year. I had all types of demeaning nicknames from “Brotits” (Lacrosse), to Roshit. It was pretty bad and I did my best to get away from all the popularity. I remember making my unpopular decision, which led to everyone hating me, but I didn’t mind. I was used to be quiet and out of the way. I am proud that you recognized there was an issue with the whole group of friends. The best decision i ever made was not caring about anyone else’s opinion but my own. I’m glad other people are out there who feel the same.

    RM

  4. Carissa,
    So crazy. Almost the exact same thing happened to me in high school (at Ponderosa too — so extra weird). I quit cheerleading right before tryouts my junior year and lost all my friends. It was a weird two years after that. It’s hard to turn your back on something so many people think they want so much. You were brave to be who you are and I think that years from now you’ll see that as a turning moment for you — I know that’s how it worked for me.

    -A

    1. Hey Allison!
      It’s actually so funny we have all these connections. I think that even just being three years removed from high school has been enough for me to realize how different my life has become from being able to stand on my own. As cliche as it sounds, losing my friends was the reason I was able to finally find myself again. It taught me to appreciate that a real friendship shouldn’t be conditional on the little petty things, and how important it is to be happy on my own.

  5. Hey Allison,
    I relate SO much to the fact of being called the mom of the group. Literally all through high school up through now, I have pretty much always been the most responsible one. At first it really got to me. However, you should really take it as a compliment. It just means that you have qualities that are things such as caring and putting others first. What I learned to do differently is just not always say yes to people and put yourself and your dreams first.

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