The Constant Search for Popularity Among Tweens and Teens
I Have Got To Be Popular Or Else............
One of the most important thing in the lives of many tweens and teens is to be popular in and out of school. To many tweens and teens, being popular is equivalent to being a celebrity or a movie star. Popularity means being at the top and being privy to the junior high and high school social scene.
Popularity further means being respected by the largest number of your peers. A popular tween and teen is always idolized and worshipped by friends, associates, and peers. If a tween and teen is popular, there are crowds following you and hanging on to your every word. As one noted celebrity stated regarding her high school days, she was so popular that her classmates would call her daily, ask her what she was going to wear tomorrow, and they would wear the same thing.
Popular tweens and teens are viewed as leaders. This same celebrity remarked that she was considered a leader and very well admired by her high school friends. Many tweens and teens yearn to be popular for the "A" status it often confers. To be popular in junior high and high school confers a sense of belonging because you are part of a crowd. If you are a popular tween and teen, you are constantly in demand. In other words, you are definitely "in".
If you are popular, you are so loved and what is better than that! To many tweens and teens, there is nothing better in this world than to be popular. In this culture, tweens and teens are inundated with the idea that to be popular is the epitome of sophistication and sociability. There are many positive associations with being popular such as having high social skills and high self-esteem.
It is many parents' dream and desire that their tweens and teens be well-liked. To be well-liked is to be accepted. To these parents, this is the second most important thing for their tweens and teens. To many parents, if their tween and teen are not well-liked, something is certain amiss either with them or more importantly, with their tween and teen.
The saddest thing in the life of many tweens and teens is not being well-liked. Many tweens and teens constantly strive for as much approval as possible from their peers. To these tweens and teens, this approval is of paramount importance. Many tweens and teens oftentimes feel quite insignificant and inconsequential if they are not liked by a majority of their peers.
To many tweens and teens, being unpopular is considered the worst thing on this earth. Many tweens and teens are uncomfortable with not being in the radar of social activities. They yearn to have as many friends and associates as possible in addition to being involved in a myriad of activities. In essence, they want to belong and being unpopular means being excluded from social activities and not being known. To many tweens and teens, being unpopular means being an outsider and the odd person out.
Many tweens and teens want to be known and included. They view their unpopular peers as pariahs and/or personae non gratae or worse. They maintain that no one in their thinking and logical mind would want to be unpopular. In their thinking, the unpopular tweens and teens are the nerds, losers, and dweebs. "Who wants to be THAT!", they figure. They further equate being unpopular with being a social misfit/outcast and uncool.
Since popularity seems to be a goal that many tweens and teens strive for, they often go through any length to be popular and/or part of the popular crowd. Oftentimes they will mask their true beliefs and identity in order to be well-liked. This is very prevalent in tweens, especially tween girls, who yearn to be well-liked so much that they often subvert their true selves, fearing that if they exhibit their true personalities they will not be liked at all!
Many popular tweens and teens feel that they must be "on" and present an image all the time. They believe that this is expected from them by their friends, peers, and associates. They are deathly afraid to be their authentic selves. They want to present a certain image to their peers and friends.
There are some tweens and teens who crave popularity as if it was a drug. They believe that they are not enough and/or sufficient in themselves so they often present a false and/or different persona in order to as many people as possible liking them. Popularity is considered an emotional or psychological exhilaration for some tweens and teens as if it is their only lifeforce and reason for existing. They need to experience the rush and the adoration of their peers and associates in order to feel totally worthwhile. If they do not have this adoration, they feel totally inconsequential.The mantra of many tweens and teens who are either popular or yearn to be popular is without their friends and peers, they are absolutely nothing at all. They crave the attention that being popular bestows upon them.
However, there is a downside to the issue of popularity. Many tweens and teens feel completely worthless if they are not popular. There are tweens and teens who often resort to less than positive actions because they believe that they have nothing worthwhile in their lives. There are many popular tweens and teens who become unhinged and start to question their personal worth if they lose a friend or if someone expresses disapproval of them.
I remember at my high school, the most popular classmate, a female, became totally unhinged because someone questioned her attractiveness at summer camp. That occurred in my senior year in high school. When this classmate returned from her summer camp job, she questioned everyone to ascertain if she was a feminine girl. Most of the classmates reassured her while others derisively ignored her. The latter upset her to no end. She was actually falling to pieces and started to cry.
She then asked some classmates if she should wear makeup to appear more attractive and beautiful. They said yes and she agreed. Even though she did not like makeup, she agreed to wear it in order to accepted as being more attractive. In my freshman year in high school, this same classmate became extreme diejected because her best friend disliked her. This best friend actually said some harsh things about her and this classmate completely went unglued. She tried to make amends with the best friend but the latter would have none of it. However, the latter apologized and this classmate felt as if she was in the higher rungs of heaven!
This most popular classmate always sought and needed approval from a large amount of peers. If she did not receive it, she would become quite morose. Other people sensed that with some gravitating towards her while still others would mock her for her constant approval seeking behavior. In essence, she was an approval junkie.
Yes, many tweens and teens fit into the aforementioned category. They believe that they must have lots of friends and associates for purposes of being validated and admired. They will not have their lives any other way. If they do not receive the necessary validation and admiration, they would become unhappy, some to the point to utter depression.
What many tweens and teens do not know that junior high and high school popularity are just temporary phases. It does not last forever. Oftentimes, many popular tweens and teens lose their friends and associates after graduation as each venture into a different sphere. Some popular tweens and teens after graduation must prove their sociability again as they venture into high school and college. Some may be popular as they were while others will not be as popular as they once were. Those who are now not popular have received quite a realization that popularity is not all that important as there are other issues to concentrate on!
In summation, it is the dream of many tweens and teens to be popular among their friends and peers. To be popular is akin to being a celebrity and/or movie star. Popular tweens and teens are admired, cool, and "in". Being popular also gives tweens and teens a high sense of self-worth. They believe that they are in the know and are privy to social trends.
There are many parents who yearn for their tweens and teens to be popular. To these parents, the popular tween and teen is accepted and included. Many parents push their tween and teen to be popular because this is considered normal. It is these parents' belief that all tweens and teens should be popular, surrounded by friends.
Societal messages inculcate tweens and teens that it is de rigeur to be popular. Furthermore, to be popular is the epitome of cool and sociability. This indoctrination results in many tweens and teens going through any length, no matter how ridiculous and negative, to be popular and to conform. Many tweens and teens are afraid to express their true selves for fear of being unpopular. They view being unpopular is totally akin to being in the lower infernal circles in junior high and high school.
However, there is a downside to being popular. Many popular tweens and teens sometimes being unnerved if anyone disapproves of and/or dislikes them. Furthermore, there are tweens and teens who become depressed and/or worse if they believe that they are not popular and well-liked. Rest assured, junior high and high school popularity are temporary. Popularity does not last forever and hopefully with maturity, tweens and teens learn that there is more to life than popularity!
© 2011 Grace Marguerite Williams
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