by Sydney Sears
As a fifth grade girl it was all I had ever wanted. The illusion of popularity basked in my vision, taunting me. I moved here when I was 11 and my ultimate goal was to be popular. I had no desire to be the awkward new kid with no friends and her head hanging low. I wanted popularity and I was willing to change myself to do so. I started to obsess over what I wore. I was constantly worrying about my appearance. I even started hanging out with people who were not the best influence for me. None of these changes made me happier or a better person, yet that was the price I was willing to pay for a taste of the popular life.
Popularity is this misconfigured concept that teenagers are taught to believe is something important. Movies, books, and media seem to show us that being in the “popular crowd” is essential and one of the most successful things one can accomplish in high school. This could not be farther from the truth.
These days being popular seems to consist of partying, defying parents, and not caring what happens. This is not always the case, but it is what society has generalized popularity to be. This should not be something that anyone strives for. Teens are made to feel inferior if this is not their lifestyle. Since when has getting good grades and following rules made someone unsuitable to a social crowd? That should not be the case. Succeeding in things are reasons someone should be looked up to, not because of how little they studied for their semester final or how much they partied the previous weekend. Doing something different and just being oneself is radical in today’s society since everyone wants to do the same thing in order to look or act cool. Teens should not sacrifice their personality, and especially not their dignity to be accepted into a place that they may not truly want to be.
Eventually my preteen-self learned that how popular one is in school does not matter at all in the grand scheme of life. I began to change back to my former self and renewed my former personality that did not care if I was wearing a t-shirt or if my hair was a little messy. I learned to love myself for who I was and not who I hung out with. My friends liked me regardless of the sport I played or how well-dressed I was. I was miserable throughout the process of trying to please everyone, including myself. Once I learned that popularity does not define someone I was happy and confident, which is what really matters.