In some ways, high school is exactly like in the movies; not in the sense that there's a happily ever after necessarily, but in the sense that there's the whole cool uncool people thing.
People want to be cool by association. I'm admitting it, there are popular people. And this is coming from someone who never admitted the truth of topics like these because it has always made me incredibly insecure. The thing is, people are always striving to be seen with people they deem as cool. They'll shamelessly get them on their snapchat stories. They'll be desperate to post photos with them on their social media. And it's all great for the people who are wanted, but what about those who are given the camera and asked to take the photo, because they're not really wanted in the shot?
When you're seen as not-as-cool (if I could think of a better way to describe this I would) people treat you differently. It's like you're not worth their respect, like you're not a real person to have a conversation with. They'll say things like "it was so nice seeing you" but if it's you standing there alone without the cool-by-association person next to you, they wouldn't come over to start a conversation. Being associated with you won't get them anywhere.
And the thing about living in a world with social media is that people outside of school can find out more about you than your personality. With one search on Facebook they'll know whether you're cool-by-association. They'll have a predetermined opinion about whether you're good enough already.
It's this treatment that makes you feel like you need to be cool by association too. But does that mean it's right to ditch the people you think aren't good enough?
I seem to care so much. I can tell you right now that I only got 11 likes in 33 minutes on my last Instagram photo, and I was contemplating whether it was because I posted it at 10am when no one was online. It's sad that these thoughts actually run through my head.
I always wonder whether people at work judge me based on what they see through my infant of a Facebook profile, and that affects my confidence in real life encounters so much. The problem is that I actually care about whether they think I'm cool-by-association. And if I didn't care if I was, then I wouldn't care what they think of me either.
Last night I went to the first big sweet 16 party I've been invited to. It was at a really nice venue, with a photographer, a great DJ, waiters with dim sim and sliders and sushi, and a blue themed lolly bar. My first thought when I walked in was shit I don't know anybody here. I did, and it was a fun night and all, but just imagine if I really wasn't friends with anybody there. It would've been a nightmare, and all those people would've been the people I deem as cool-by-association. So I guess maybe being around these people isn't fun at all. This just goes to show that it's your actual friends, the people you feel comfortable around, thought of as cool or not, who actually matter.
I'm sick of always caring. I hate that their fake-as hugs can make me so happy. I hate that I feel the need to act 'normal' around them, restraining everything I am to be associated with them in some way. I know I always say this, but if I just stopped caring and said what I think in the moment, then everything would be easier. It's easier said than done, but maybe I should start doing.
My commerce teacher said that some adults just never grew up, and they still have the mind of a ninth grader. I don't want to be like that. I want to be above the teenage social status quo. I've decided here and now that I'm over social media politics, over the idea of being cool by association, and over caring so freaking much.
It's not about who, it's about what. No one is any better than anyone else. Sometimes you just don't connect with people, and that's fine - you weren't meant to get along. And there's some people who are easy to talk to, and they're the ones to stick around. It's about who you feel comfortable with in the moment, not about the status of the person or whoever can see you with them.
After note: Straight after writing this post I went straight onto Instagram to see how many likes I have now, and then promptly checked whom these likers may be, and how they're associated with the people I was with. Clearly I've got a long way to go, but I'm working on it.