Remember way back in the days of grade school? Seems like ages ago right? I'm sure while in the middle of it all things seemed way more dramatic than they ever probably really were. Eh, it's all relative. Anywho, why am I even thinking about a time period so distant? As we all know history repeats itself very often. Growing up as a child and living my life now as an adult, I absolutely see things that were going around coming right on back around...on a much much larger scale of course. The thing in particular that I've been pondering lately is the science of popularity. Such an interesting topic if I do say so myself. Beginning in school and continuing right on up into adulthood. What is so great about being popular anyway?
I was never really popular at any point. Or, maybe I was and just didn't know it! It's hard holding up mirrors to your own life. I for sure never felt like the proper protagonist in any fictitious coming of age type storyline I'll tell ya that. I wanted to fade into the background mostly. I had my one or two friends and that was fine with me. In high school though is where the real separations began. Everyone knew exactly who the popular people were. Their names were well known, as were their perfectly polished faces. I guess in retrospect, each one of the popular people had something to offer in some sort of way; talent, beauty, comedy, money. If you weren't bringing anything to the table, people didn't need you so they didn't hang around you. We all needed those chosen few as something to aspire...to (I really tried not to end that sentence with a preposition...ugh high school AP English flashbacks). Sure, maybe I'll even admit it now, the allure of popularity was pretty tempting to the awkward adolescent eye. Everyone wants to belong...somewhere...to something. Clubs and teams did help with that a bit. I was on a few of the (nerdier) teams, yet still, I found it hard to break my way through to the upper echelon.
After more years of trying to do that in college as well (and failing even more miserably), there was a change. Now, at this point in life, there are 2 roads one could travel. There is the road that continues on this quest for human admiration, and then there is the road that stops giving a hot dang. I took the latter for a while. After years of trying to be what you think everyone wants you to be, it's refreshing to take some time to figure out what you even wanna be yourself. Everyone needs this time! Unfortunately, some don't take it and continue on doing what is popular at the moment. Perhaps never really knowing their true self.
These days, it's very hard, VERY, to have tunnel vision and tune out the things and people that are popular. Believe me, I've tried! It's like it's forced upon us all, every waking minute of every waking day, telling us what we should wear, what we should eat, places we must travel, songs we must listen to, movies we must see. How are we to know what we REALLY like as opposed to what is simply just there... whats popular? Have you ever heard a song for the first time and hated it, but then you hear it on the radio all the freakin time and after a few months you realize you're reciting it word for word? Have you ever tried to actively NOT follow celebrity news or pop culture? It's impossible! I actually have blocked all of the Kardashians Instagram pages, but I still see them all the darn time while scrolling. The reason the powers that be shove all this stuff down our throats is because they are selling the age-old idea of popularity. Fame, the ultimate form of popularity, is so glamorized that it's hard not to want just that, with all the perks that come along. This leads to the problem of people doing "whatever it takes" to reach this status. I've seen some crazy things done for popularity. I haven't told a lot of people this, but when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade, my nerdy self tried to fit in from time to time. I remember one day at the lunch table, the popular kids were all laughing and joking, having a great time. Looked like a blast, so I sort of lingered longingly while perhaps chuckling a bit. They started mixing all of their lunch food together in some weird glob. They were trying to get people to taste it. Somebody pointed me out and asked if I would. I said sure! Yeap, I tasted the glob. It wasn't the worst actually, but sheesh, could I have been any more desperate? I'm sure some of you might have even worse stories!
At some points in my life, I'm sure I did want to be some glimmering beacon of light that everyone adored and followed the trends of blindly until the end of time. Perhaps maybe somewhere deep down, I still do. I still often have to stop and ask myself why. To whom much is given, much is required. With popularity comes great responsibility, which is something we don't realize. People WILL be looking up to you; for advice, for "goals", for inspiration, for hope. I have to make sure I want to truly be a leader, and if so, where am I leading people exactly? How many of the popular kids in grade school used their popularity for good? In my experience (and in movies), not too many. Thankfully there is a bit more accountability when you get to a higher level of fame, but still, let the past be a lesson for our present. I also am aware that even with all the allure, some people don't want to be popular at all. They just wanna live their lives in the small circle they create. That's not a bad thing! In fact, I love the idea that everyone in a group of people is of equal importance and notoriety. Alas, living on a planet with billions and billions of folks, there is naturally some separation. Just know that we did it to ourselves!
P.s. Have you ever noticed how obsessed Lady Gaga is with popularity and fame? First album; The Fame, reissued as The Fame Monster, then Artpop. I think that she knows something we don't. Would really like to talk to her about this subject (among other things, like how amazing she is).
P.p.s. I still call soda, pop! I have an unopened bottle of pineapple Faygo in my fridge right now. Too bad they don't sell Faygo in New York (or Vernors!). Hmm, I wonder if I can order some online though... #Detroit
P.p.p.s. Fun game: See how many Justin Timberlake song references you can find throughout this post!