So I was known by everyone in my year level, at a pretty early stage, without being popular. My rep wasn’t good. I still got into a fair few fights, and eventually people left me alone. But I slowly calmed down, and faded into the background. The bad rep was forgotten, though I wasn’t. I got to be known as someone who was exceptionally smart, and willing to help others out where possible. I excelled in quite a few classes, and could often be found at the library during lunchtimes with my best friend. It was an escape from the others in our group mostly. But it worked for me. I wasn’t popular. I was fat, never wore fashionable clothes, never dated, was quiet and got good grades.
In year twelve I entered the spotlight with a bang. I shaved my head for the Anti Cancer Council, and raised $4800 by my own initative. Read about it here. It was huge. And I quite often had people in my year level offering to help out with different things. People from all clicks helped out. It was a real bonding experience.
Now days I talk to some people that I graduated with, and they tell me that our year level was very clicky. You had your friends, and you excluded all others. I never saw that. I could easily cross from our group, when they got to be too much, and go sit with anyone else when I wanted. The arty kids, the popular’s, the muso’s, the burn outs, the smokers, the farm boys, the brains, the jocks… everybody. Basically, if I wanted to talk to you, I did. And I was never rejected by any groups.
I went from a named blip to being someone who was well known, easy to get along with and was everybody’s friend.
This kind of phenomenon isn’t limited to high school. It was also a fact of life at college. I quite often had people coming up to me, referring to me by name, and talking to me. I wasn’t a random. I was quite the party animal in my first year, was quiet and withdrawn in my second year (another long and depressing story), and one of the most recognised people in my last year. Like high school, I crossed all clicks. I was in the ‘popular’ group, but my main group wasn’t popular by any standards. We were the strange ones. I could visit anybody, whenever and wherever I wanted. Nobody going up to the cafeteria for dinner? I’ll find someone to sit with when I get there. My friends gone away for a few weeks? No problems, I’ll just make new friends.
On my graduation day I had a guy I have absolutely no recollection of ever meeting used my first name, and then, without asking, used my last name as a reference for where he should be in the procession. He already knew my last name!
But, still, it extends beyond that. Where I shop I’m remembered. The girl at the bakery remembered me, even though I’d been there six times in three months. I’ve met some of my roomies mates twice, maybe three times, in just over a year, and they will approach me when I’m shopping, and talk to me. I’ve been to the very busy café opposite work twice in three weeks, and on my third visit a week after, the waitress recognised me.
Facebook has bought this story about. I’ve been on facebook for only a few weeks. And I’m getting people requesting me as a friend, when I have few or vague memories of them. And these people aren’t friend-whores. They seem to genuinely remember me, and want to stay in touch.
I have had several people who’s ‘friends’ I’ve had to look at, to see where I know them from. Its frustrating, but at the same time its nice to remember just how varied my past friendships have been, and remember how each person has added to my life. As someone who had quite a few years on the outskirts of it all, I'm grateful for each friend that I have.