Sunday, August 26, 2007

Popularity

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 I was quite the party animal in my first year, was quiet and withdrawn in my second year (another long and depressing story), and one of the most recognised people in my last year.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.

11 comments:

Cazzie!!! said...

Thats it, your close friends are the people who don;t care what you look like and love you for your inner beauty..which, I have to say, you come across as being so lovely on the inside...and your images you upload of yourself are lovely too :)

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

I’m so old I can hardly remember the years in my life that you wrote of in this post. Yet I know that for most folks those years are ones of transitions, experimentation, and learning who we are in relation to other and ourselves. You seem to have done an excellent job, Phish.

phishez_rule said...

Cazzie - Thanks. That means alot to me considering an ex reader has started a hate campaign against me.

Nick - Its true. Its the part of our life where we accept our childhood lessons, and become who we really are.

sahil said...

Hmmm. You know I think people who have an extraordinarily large circle of friends and are friendly with everyone tend to belong to a unique and particularly rare personality type.

Actually I could quite relate to this post cause I belong to the same kind.

Anyway, tell me one thing. Do you ever feel that even though you have a large circle of friends, you have no one who is actually a really close friend? Because people somehow don't quite truly understand you?

I feel that all the time...

captain corky said...

I'm still friends with a lot of the kids that I grew up with. I consider them to be just as important as family.

Friendship is really important to me. That's why I'm glad we're going to become best friends through blogging. ;)

Professor said...

I like and appreciate this post. I like your self reflection and candor. COuld I please copy it to share with my high school kids? I think they need to understand this "lesson" and it would help some of my kids who are feeling a bit lost. This is wonderful and touching. Thank you for sharing with me. (And as a person who stumbled on your blog, or you on mine cuz I can't remember, I can see why people like you. youare amazing, funny, sincere, kind... I cann it through this medium so you must be phenominal in person. So I'm lucky and glad I know you too!)

Who Would You Do? said...

Very interesting, thought provoking post. And I came here to ask you to be my Facebook friend.

Betty Boob Hug said...

I moved around too much to be popular in any school - every 1 or 2 years I changed states! But on school friends site I am finding people who remembered me, so yay - I must of made a tiny impression :)

Friends are like their weight in gold. Even if they don't last, they're good for so many reasons.

sharnee said...

That was a truly great thing you did to raise the money!!

Sometimes I wish I could go back to high school and do it again with the knowledge and intelligence that I have now (I surely wouldn't care about things so much if I did go back). Haha. Most of the people I went to high school with were wankers though. True, idiotic wankers :P

phishez_rule said...

If anyone saw the last comment, please disregard it. I answered all of the comments from another thread here.

Sahil - If you hadn't added that last bit, about not having more than one close friend, I wouldn't have believed you were the same.

Corky - I look forward to it too

Prof - You're more than welcome to use this for your classes if you want. I love being blogbuddies with you.

WWYD - I think you have to send requests through facebook for that.

Betty - You would have been welcome in our group. I see alot of my friend ange in you.

Sharnee - I'm sure you'd care. You join a group, your intelligence drops, and its peer pressure all over again!

Sam said...

hey i can identify wid dat... more dan me, one of my very close frnd Gini, goes through this same thing... fellas her senior/junior by quite a few yrs simply turn up online and she finds out just how popular she was at school, whereas all these years she had the opinion she was just another girl.. lol.. soemtimes we don't know what we are worth... at times a lot more than we would actually give us credit for!!
cheers!!