Growing up, I wasn’t popular (except with the girls in elementary school, heh). Like most kids, and then teens, somehow we get it into our heads that the more popular you are, the better life is. It’s a dream magnified and reinforced by Hollywood and Hallmark movies, and it’s an urge as a teen that’s very difficult to resist.
Now, consciously, I never imagined or cared about the trappings of popularity as a teen. I didn’t fantasize about being the high school football star, or being named prom king or some such nonsense. What I did imagine and want was simple — a high enough level of popularity where I didn’t have to worry about my ass being kicked while walking down an empty hallway. (For the record, I never had my ass kicked in high school; it was, however, a recurring fear with a solid basis in reality.)
What I took away from my unpopularity — from my lugging my trombone case onto the bus every week and trying to not make a big deal about the fact that it was not the easiest thing to carry around, from being smart in a school where smart kids were not exactly something that was rewarded, from some of my antisocial behaviors — was this: it taught me resilience and how to rely on the one person I knew would always be there, myself.
It’s also a lesson learned by millions of kids each year. One of them was Erika Napoletano and she has an amazing essay talking about this on her website, Redhead Writing.
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