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In Praise of the Odd/Outside Girl Out
Being a Nonconformist Gives You an Edge
Female children are inundated by all facets of society to conform, have lots of friends, and to be liked. It is the wish of parents that their children be popular and have lots of friends. American teen culture thrive on extroversion, group think, and popularity.
When a girl reaches the junior high school level, there is a proliferation of girl cliques. The culture of the girl clique is often strict conformity and pecking order status. The leader of the clique often determines the rules and bylaws of group standards. If a member of the group elect for any reason to disagree with the leader of the group, she sometimes loses her particular status in the pecking order or is totally ostracized.
For a young member of a girl clique, the worst thing is to be ostracized from the group. For the average girl from junior high to high school, being popular and part of a group is the most important reason for being alive. Belonging to a group is the lifeline of many a junior high and high school girl. The group grants status and gossip beyond the average school occurrences. Furthermore, belonging to an A or top status girl clique means that a girl is near or on top of the school pecking order.
Many girls would do almost anything to belong to girl cliques. They would adopt different personalities and sometimes indulge in upmanship with girls who belong to other cliques or less popular girls. Sometimes girls in such cliques routinely indulge in verbal bullying of other girls or worse.
In the teen culture of junior high and high school, there are three types the alpha/popular girl who is a natural leader or has star status charisma, the in between girl who does not make waves, and the outside/unpopular girl who is totally excluded from or is not interested in group culture.
It is the abject fear of many a junior high and high school girl to be the odd/outside girl out. To the average teen girl, being the odd/outside girl out is tantamount to death. This is because school culture at the junior high and high school level involves more interfacing and social arenas than at the elementary school level. Girls at this level want to have friends and lots of social interaction and belong to a group guarantees such activities. Furthermore, girls at this level have negative and pejorative connotations about being the odd/outside girl out.
What about the odd/outside girl out? Many junior high and high school girls oftentimes feel uncomfortable about being the odd/outside girl out. They receive messages from their parents, teachers, and society that to be a teen girl is to have friends, belong to a group, and to be liked. Many parents feel very uncomfortable with the fact that their daughter is not part of a group and is unpopular. A lot of parents feel ashamed that their teen daughters are unpopular, believing them to be "slow", "an oddball", and "a social misfit."
These types of odd/outside girl often develop an inferiority complex, believing that they are insignificant and not good enough. Even though these girls are quite intellectually proficient, they are measure by the typical feminine archetype that in order to be "normal", one must belong to a group and be liked. Some odd/outside girls out sublimate their identity to be part of the group even to their own detriment. Still other less confident odd/outside girls commit extremely deleterious acts such as suicide.
However, there are more odd/outside girl out who are confident in their own beings. These girls do not wish to be part of a group regardless of societal dictates. They can be classified as very nonconformist and individualistic. These girls are quiite comfortable being alone and seeking their own counsel. Oftentimes, these girls are more mature emotionally than the average teen girl.
They are totally not into the typical teenage gameplaying and upmanship which is very prevalent in teen cliques. They are into more intellectual and scholarly pursuits. Many of these teens are introverts and are more comfortable with deeper intellectual activities and fewer and truer friendships. Many of these girls find the culture of junior high and high school to be puerile and immature beyond belief.
Many odd/outside girls out have a strong self of self. They are not followers of the status quo. They are independent thinkers and follow their own drummers. Even though this is frowned upon in junior high and high school culture, the intense individualism of the odd/outsider girl out gives her an edge in the adult and work world.
The average odd/outsider girl is usually very creative and is a high academic achiever. In my high school, there was a student who was an odd/outsider girl. She was a straight A student who had a genius level IQ. She was quite a prolific artist, a deep and independent thinker, and an early feminist. She did not succumb to the usual girlishness which is prevalent in high school society.
She clearly relished being an odd/outside girl out. She glorified in being her own counsel and in fact, derided girls who belonged to cliques. She refused to alternate her personality to fit in with the crowd. Other girls at the school often derided her for being different but she did not care and "let the opinions of others be damned." She was truly a remarkable person who was never afraid to speak her opinions on any subject.
Odd/outside girls are strong young women. They know how to work independently. They are quite comfortable in indulging in solitary activities that other teenagers dread doing. They are also not susceptible to the negative aspects of teen peer pressure such as sexual and drug experimentation. They are quite comfortable in standing their own ground.
The prototype of the odd/outside girl out is Heather Mooney, the iconoclastic teen character in the movie, ROMY AND MICHELLE'S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION. While the two main characters are also odd/outside girls out, they are clearly uncomfortable with their status and wanted to court the admiration of A group cheerleaders who were the most popular girls, Ms. Mooney could not have cared less about being popular. Ms. Mooney was a honor roll student who was prolific in science and believed that the high school culture was superfluous and unintelligent to say the least.
In conclusion, many parents want their teen daughters to be part of a group and to be liked. For these parents, that is what being a teenager is all about. However, there are teenagers who prefer not to be part of a group. There are many teen girls which would be classified as being unpopular. Many parents clearly feel uncomfortable if their teen daughters are not part of the crowd and/or have any friends. These parents consider their teen daughters oddballs or pariahs to say the least.
Girl cliques are often de rigeur at the junior high and high school level. Many girls want to belong to girl cliques in order to have a sense of well being and belonging. The culture of girl cliques are narrow conformity to the norms of the groups and the dictates of the alpha girl leader. Girls who belong to the group will do many negative things in order to belong as they do not wish to be ostracized and be the odd/outside girl out. Being the odd/outside girl out is equal to being dead and a social misfit.
There are odd/outside girls out who are clearly uncomfortable with their status. As a result, they would go to ridiculous and extreme lengths to belonging to a group. However, there are odd/outside girls who are clearly confident with their status. Actually, the odd/outside girl is often quite confident and self-assured. She often follows her own drummer and treasures her individuality. She often looks askance at group think and group philosophy.
The odd/outside girl is not susceptible to the negative aspects of teen peer pressure such as sexual and drug experimentation. She is quite comfortable indulging in solitary activities and hobbies. She is also an independent thinker.
Although being the odd/outside girl out is frowned upon and misunderstood in junior high and high school culture where conformity is prized, her individuality and unconventionality gives her an edge in the adult and work world where being a self-starter is praised and encouraged. The odd/outside girl has a lot going for her-creativity, intelligence, being an independent thinker who is willing to go on the road less travelled, and being a nonconformist. So, any girl in junior high and high school who is the odd/outside girl-relish and be proud of your unique status. My advice to parents-encourage your daughter's individuality and do not force her to be part of a crowd. Furthermore, encourage your daughter's unique opinions and interests.