Since who knows when the thing a lot of people have wanted was to be popular, to be liked, to feel like they belong. To know what they say and think is important and heard. There is nothing like going to school and quickly learning where you stand in the order of the world.
Popularity is something I struggled with growing up and is something I have and will continue work through with my kids. There is something appealing about being part of the “in-crowd”. It is glamorized particularly by Hollywood but in so many other realms as well. If you are not hip, up on all the latest, part of what’s going on right now then obviously you are not cool.
My oldest daughter who just started high school struggled with this in middle school. She saw the allure of being part of the in crowd and being popular. After having been through this myself my advice to her was to find some solid, good friends and enjoy the time with them, make memories that will last. Don’t worry about trying to fit in, once you are out in the real world and living your life it does become less about being popular and more about being comfortable with who you are and how you want to live your life. Good advice right?
I’ve been contemplating the advice I gave her and our discussions about it. To some degree I believe there’s a lot of truth in it. To a degree I wonder if it really never ends. For me I see this happen at work, ladder climbers who will step on others to get to the top. Always trying to be the best and do things to get them recognized. There’s always a group of folks who are living it up and seem to be the “in crowd” who have an edge on everyone else. The neighbors to keep up with the latest toys and gadgets that my kids think are totally awesome. Trips, parties and the ones who everyone seems to talk about as if they are royalty. Even in church there seems to be an élite crowd. I’ve had experiences in churches where I had to compete and prove myself worthy to them. They won’t talk or acknowledge you on Sundays even when you pass by them, you can come close to touching them and they look right through you.
I feel like that transcends to the online world and social media that I take part in. If you are a writer or blogger you are trying to promote yourself. For those that aren’t but engage in it, we project an image. If you write and write well you get lots of comments, feedback and people will promote you as well as tell others they should read what you have written. It can be intoxicating, you can feel like a celebrity who is incredibly popular – having a lot of followers and friends can also reinforce this. The drawback is when you try to engage or take part and feel like you are not part of the conversation or what you had to say or share was completely ignored.
In many realms of life there is always going to be the in-crowd, those who are at the top of the game and seem to gain attention and notoriety. The are the ones who everyone else talks about, wants to emulate and drops their name whenever theirs an opportunity. Does all of this matter; I guess that depends on how you look at it.
I believe we are all valuable. God created and designed us all by his very hands. He gave purpose and value to us when he brought us into this world. We all have gifts and talents we can use to impact the world. No two people were created the same and for good reason. We are all important and no one is more important than anyone else even though it may seem that way. Just as a parent looks at each of their children with tremendous love and doesn’t choose favorites instead realizes the uniqueness of each of their children. I believe God looks at all of us the same way. While the world may try to tell us that some or more important or valuable than others it’s important to remember as quickly as the latest fad passes is as soon as the person passes. We are not fads we are God’s handiwork and we matter.
Popularity is a man-made thing and one day that will end. In the end I come back to having true and lasting friendships. Using my gifts, talents and the story of my life to reflect what God has done in my life. I don’t need to worry if I am not the most popular for the things I do have are more valuable than being the “it” person.