Teenagers, popularity, and small town life

  1. So, my dear sweet wonderful daughter, the love of my life, my best
    friend in the world... became a high school freshman in August. With
    that came tears, emotions, frustration.. and that's just me!

    Having SO many thoughts right now that I just need to get off my
    chest... very glad that I can come here and do so.

    I was never popular in school. In fact I was very very much
    an outcast. Picked on/made fun of a lot. I was tall, very
    awkward, quiet, overweight, and to top it all off I had a
    very public (stupid me) mad crush on a guy who did not
    feel the same way.

    Now here I am, thirty years later, scared half to death that my
    daughter is going to go through the same things I went
    through. Logically I say to myself, "so what?", because
    I know that a), being popular in high school does NOT in
    any way shape or form, determine how your life's course
    is going to run, and b)... well I forgot what b) was...

    Now, let me also say, there are MARKED differences between
    my daughter, and myself at her age. Number one, I had
    flaming red hair. She has dirty blonde hair and tan skin.
    Number two, she is rather friendly and outgoing. Three,
    she had quite a few friends in middle school, all of whom
    followed her to the same high school.

    However, there are things about her that worry me. She
    truly marches to the beat of her own drummer. Now, on
    one hand I think that it is absolutely wonderful that she
    is very much her own person. On the other hand... I
    see her becoming an outcast because she doesn't want
    to wear cute, pretty, fashionable clothes, or makeup.
    I see her becoming an outcast because she has zero
    interest in dressing up and going to school dances, namely
    the first homecoming dance of her high school career
    this weekend. I see many of her middle school friends,
    likely wanting to do these things, if they aren't already.
    Will they invite her along if they decide to go to the
    dance as a group? I fear that they won't. And even
    if they do, I think she will say no.

    Argh... let me go off on a tangent for a minute.
    We live in a small town about 20 miles west of Lexington
    Kentucky. We are 15 miles from Frankfort and about 45
    miles from Louisville, where I grew up. I grew up in a
    big city. That's important to remember, because....

    There is this one family here in this small town... it is like
    they are some sort of royalty. Mom used to teach music
    at one of the middle schools, was a cheerleader at the
    local high school when she was in school.. now runs a
    little music school in town and is also a county magistrate.
    Dad does a lot of little league coaching, and that's about
    all I know about him really.

    They have three kids... two of them have graduated, and one
    of them is in my daughter's class. I don't know... how this
    happens... EVERY ONE of those kids managed to be the most
    popular kids in school, in their classes. HOW does that happen??
    Who died and made these people king, queen, prince and
    princesses of the whole dang town, county??? I mean,
    the girl in my daughter's class just got appointed to the
    homecoming court for their very first homecoming. I'm
    like, surprise surprise!!! :eyeroll:

    I'm sure that somehow, the importance of being.. important,
    popular, the best, Number 1, numero uno, the big cheese,
    big man on campus... somehow those things have been
    stressed throughout that family, as being important.

    So what am I doing wrong??? I'm not teaching my kids
    the importance of being mediocre! Far from it... I'm trying
    to teach my kids to reach for the stars, work hard, follow
    their dreams, and don't do anything only halfway. I'm
    trying to teach them that anything worth doing is worth
    doing 100%. I half a**ed my way through school and
    I don't want them to do the same thing.

    So HOW does it happen?? HOW is it that some kids
    are super popular and others, who have just as many
    great qualities, are not? And I mean, the girl who is
    in my daughter's class... it's not like she's a mean girl.
    At least I don't think she is. Hell, maybe she is.

    Bottom line... I guess I just don't want my daughter to
    go through what I went through. Deep down.. because of
    the differences in our personalities, I DON'T think that
    her experience will be quite as bad.. and if she isn't
    voted Most Popular On The Planet, or doesn't even
    really enjoy high school.... it's all probably going to be
    OK in the end.

    Then once she's through it, I have to get my young son
    through it. Ugh!!!!
    Last edit by NurseCard on Sep 7, '17
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    About NurseCard, ADN, RN Guide

    Joined: Dec '03; Posts: 3,007; Likes: 4,894


  3. by   BCgradnurse
    The teenage years are hard. Hopefully your daughter will have one or few good close friends that have her back. That's all she needs. It's wonderful that your daughter doesn't bow to convention and has the inner strength to love herself as she is. I know I didn't have that at her age.

    I know you will be there for her and will support her regardless. She will feel loved and safe. That's the best thing you can do for her.
  4. by   Farawyn
    I'm a mom of 2 Kids, who are now both in college. I am a SN in a HS, and I was their SN.
    My boys were popular, The Kid moreso than The Big Kid. I, too, live in a small town where everyone knows each other since they are 2. The kids are labeled as The Smart One, The Athletic One, The Nice One, The Mean One (etc.) from day 1, it seems. I had The Smart One, and The Nice, Athletic One. Both kids were all those things and a lot more, but that's the way it goes in small towns.
    I also live in an area where people are rich. Stinking rich. Tennis courts and baseball diamonds in the backyard rich. Owning horses rich.

    To me, the rich kids were always popular. Followed by the atheltic kids, followed by the partiers...bad boys and girls, the sexual ones.

    The biggest determinant besides these factors?

    Pushy parents, who tell their kids they are popular. The kids grow up EXPECTING to be popular. That kind of confidence is attractive to the other kids, who emulate it.

    What I told my kids? Your friends are always welcome here. Don't drink and drive or get into a car where someone has been. Don't lie about where you are. and if you see someone being mistreated, speak up.

    Don't peak in High School.

    Keep the communication open and don't think about the popularity, unless of course, you suspect bullying. Then go Mama Bear.

    This, too, shall pass.

    Good luck.
  5. by   No Stars In My Eyes
    "Don't peak in high school."

    I like that! My friend and I were not popular, but we told ourselves (in the 7th grade) that was okay, because when the others were not part of a clique once they were out in the REAL world, WE would be coming into our own!

    And our 10th reunion proved it so. YES!
  6. by   NurseCard
    The things I've taught my daughter:

    Treat people well. Stand up for kids that are being bullied. Be friendly to
    that kid who doesn't seem to have any friends. Get good grades; you will
    feel better about yourself if you do well in school, plus good grades will help
    you get into college, and pay for it. If kids are picking on you, tell them
    to stop. If they continue, find an adult and let them know what is
    going on.

    Things that I have very much downplayed... the importance of
    being "popular". I have taught my daughter to be herself and
    to treat others as she would like to be treated. I've never instilled
    into her any illusions that she is any more important or any
    better than anyone else.

    I've also honestly downplayed the importance of being
    attractive. This, I regret. Rather... I unfortunately am
    terribly, terribly low maintenance. I do well to EVER put
    makeup on. I've had to cut my hair short because I just
    don't like messing with my hair. My idea of dressing
    up is a nice pair of jeans and a shirt that doesn't have
    any writing or imaging on it. I don't wear jewelry. I DO
    stress to her, the importance of being clean, keeping
    her hair washed and combed and looking decent...
    good hygiene. Or rather I really try to.

    Her grandmother was an influence in her life, that
    I really wish she still had. My mother in law wore
    jewelry, kept her hair done and pretty, wore nice
    clothes, and while she was still alive and healthy... my
    daughter WAS a bit more of a girly girl. After my
    MIL's health declined and she became less of an
    influence... my daughter became less girly. I wish
    I were more of a girly girl but I simply am not and
    I never have been.

    There you have it I guess. LOL. I think my son
    may be one of the "popular" kids. We shall see.
    Last edit by NurseCard on Sep 14, '17
  7. by   Farawyn
    It is important to walk the walk.
    My kids have seen me go talk to the one person in the room not talking to anyone. My kids have seen me extend a hand. My kids have seen me be inclusive.

    I, too, am low maintenance. I have seen the boys' friends that are girls give me the once over. They dress Waaaaaaaay bettern me. I don't care. jeans and t-shirts are fine with me, then it should be fine with everyone else.
  8. by   toomuchbaloney
    I wouldn't worry about your kid chasing popularity and celebrity in high school. Teach them to be good, compassionate and empathetic people. Popular teens are too often none of those things.
  9. by   No Stars In My Eyes
    In the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade I would say of the dressy, multi-petticoated girlie-girls in a clique (with a withering sneer):
    "Oh she thinks she is soooo dainty."
  10. by   NurseCard
    Quote from toomuchbaloney
    I wouldn't worry about your kid chasing popularity and celebrity in high school. Teach them to be good, compassionate and empathetic people. Popular teens are too often none of those things.
    Oh I know... I do, I teach her to be considerate of others, to be kind...

    I don't know why I'm hung up on this. Again, I guess it's all because of my
    own experiences. It's really irrational.

    Twenty seven years after high school, I still have scars. Ugh.
  11. by   Farawyn
    Quote from NurseCard
    Oh I know... I do, I teach her to be considerate of others, to be kind...

    I don't know why I'm hung up on this. Again, I guess it's all because of my
    own experiences. It's really irrational.

    Twenty seven years after high school, I still have scars. Ugh.
    There is nothing meaner than an 8th grade insecure girl. Nothing.
  12. by   No Stars In My Eyes
    Quote from Farawyn
    There is nothing meaner than an 8th grade insecure girl. Nothing.
    I swear to the truth of this statement with both my hands up! ( 'onist t' gawd! )
  13. by   Daisy Joyce
    Years ago I read an amazing essay (I tried to find it for you but couldn't sorry) that posited that hip, trendy, popular kids are that way because they worked hard at it. Figured out what makes people tick and learned to adapt. Made sure they read the right magazines and watched the right TV shows, and followed the right websites, and listened to he right music. The essayist (who claimed he was on the bottom rung on the social ladder in high school) went on to say--they worked for popularity, so they *should* get it.

    He then went on to say that people say they want popularity when actually, what they want are the perks--the status and bragging rights, going to the parties, being included in things, etc.

    He made the hypothesis that people work hard at the things they enjoy, so for one kid it's gaming, for another it's an instrument or drama. But a kid's interests will not necessarily be the things that catapult them to the top of the popularity food chain.

    There's some flaws in the theory, for instance, a very homely kid who lacks talents will have a way harder time fitting in no matter how trendy they are.
    But I still found it to be a neat theory.

    (On an unrelated note, I found myself reliving the middle school years and high school as I watched my kids go through it. I get where you're coming from...)