Popularity is probably something that is on our minds often. It’s something that sometimes makes us smile but a lot of times makes us want to cry, and even if popularity isn’t the direct cause of the tears, it’s usually still involved, if not the root of the problem. Not that you or I is vain, but we’re aware of our surroundings in a social sense and society pushes that you gotta be liked by the masses to be legit, but are we really aware of the reality of “If I were popular?”
I started writing this post from a school/peer standpoint– as like another ‘tips + help’ before starting the school year post, but I think if celebrities would put their pride down, they’d agree with me (and some have) that what I will tell you is true in the “real world” too. So, from a kid who’s always popular, here’s what it’s really like and why I’d rather go almost unnoticed.
First, let me be completely honest. I’m not going to tell you being popular and in a spotlight isn’t fun at all, because that would be a lie. It’s just that the feeling doesn’t last very long… it’s an acute happiness but it’s not a true satisfying feeling. It doesn’t help you get to know your friends better or prepare you for life. All it really does is boost your head in an unhealthy way. On top of that, if you think you’re dealing with peer pressure now, wait until you’re “popular” and you’ll find it’s even worse. Not to minimize the damaging effects of peer pressure. It matters no matter what title you have but I promise it’s worse when you’re “big”, because people expect you to keep a certain appearance.
There’s also absolutely no such thing as privacy when everyone knows and likes you. Anything thing you do, is on gossipers’ “trending now” list– and even if you’re not a person who does inappropriate things that you don’t want to get around, like me, it’s still not cool because you’re probably laid back like me and would rather not have people reminding you constantly of things you’ve done. Really…
Honestly, I could go on and on about how popularity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and how it’s really more of an annoyance (unless you’re vain and like having people obsessed with you) but I wouldn’t be cutting anywhere close to the heart of it all or giving you something else you can value, and then this post would be a sad waste….
So, what drives people to want to be popular? I’m in no way an expert nor have I researched all the esteemed psychologists’ reports but I have had a lot of hands on experience. I am the type to study people and listen intently to what you say and don’t say. Not in a creepy way, but I do it so I can help my friends better, because I love encouraging others to overcome.
The want to be popular comes from something deeper and the root of the problem is pride I would say. But deeper still, I’d say it’s low self esteem and not being able to see yourself the way you really are. A lack of affirmation in the right place causes us as people to seek it from the wrong place and it ends up hurting us.
It’s not a fault to want to be affirmed. All humans need to know that someone thinks they’re enough. We all need to know we’re loved and valued but that’s the two things amongst many others that popularity cannot give you. Why? Because those people who exalt you like you for who they think you are but they don’t know the real you. They like you for how you appear and they befriend you for what they think you can do for them, but they never see you as someone they can do something for and they never will. So we end up feeling alone… We become those people who are known but no one knows us. We have plenty of people to celebrate our accomplishments but no one to confide our deepest fears, regrets and even dreams in. And it sets us up for failure.
But let me assure you, you are enough and whether anyone ‘sees’ you or acts like they care about what you’re doing all the time, you matter. Your dreams are possible, your fears can be overcome and your secrets don’t have to define you, because God says so. He loves you and He has a purpose for you. He sees and knows you, and when God is your friend and in your corner it’ll never matter what others think because He can affirm you in more ways than any human ever can and His love reaches deeper than any other.
So, the question stands– is it then a bad thing to be known by others? Popular even? The straight answer is no. No it’s not. Being liked isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually a good thing in the right light, but it’s not okay to think you’re better than anyone else and most important is your foundation. What matters most to you? Who has seen you at your lows and can truly rejoice with you when you’re on your mountains? You want to focus on investing into the people that have stuck with you. Or, be selfless and try investing in those people who no one really sees either. It pays big dividends in the future and trust me, when you have people in your life that love you unconditionally, you’ll feel like you’re known world wide. The joy lasts and it gives you satisfaction. It’s not an empty thrill.
Going into this school year, try having a different look at popularity– see where it stands on your priorities and if it’s really worth it to you! Plus, if you just be you and keep being real, you’ll find favor, the right kind, and you will not have lost your way in the process or been made to act a certain way. Trust me!
How do you view popularity? What are your top three priorities for your social life?