I’m beginning to believe that warm weather brings out the weird – people, things…
Sitting at the corner of Green Lane and Leslie last Monday waiting for the light to change. Turned my head to the right and was treated to the sight of a young ‘woman’ and her female companion stylin’ in a rusty blue Pontiac Sunfire. Clad in skimpy tank tops. More piercings in her face and ears than a tackle box. Lurid, amateurish tattoos all the way up her arm, on her neck, on the curve of her shoulder. I was fumbling for my camera to get a photo (yeah, risking a Highway Traffic Act ticket) to get a shot off but of course getting to the settings (screen unlock, hit app, wait to app to load, focus) took too long and we were in motion before I could do it.
Have you heard about this? Being popular in high school may not portend well for your future success? A recent study published in the journal, Child Development found that “It appears that while so-called cool teens’ behavior might have been linked to early popularity, over time, these teens needed more and more extreme behaviors to try to appear cool.” Ah, so what was mild in high schol or university becomes downright destructive and nasty in adulthood. I get that. I’ve seen people self-destruct – relationships with shorter shelf lives than skim milk, excessive consumption of drugs or booze, bad behaviour, poor employment histories. The ten-year study wasn’t large – the researchers followed 184 students from the age of 13 until the were 23 years old.
Here’s more: “The cooler kids impressed their peers through displays of romantic behavior (like kissing or touching), deviant acts (like damaging their parents’ property or sneaking into a movie theater without a ticket), or by associating themselves with more physically attractive friends. As the years went on, however, these antics did not correlate to an increase in popularity. In fact, just the opposite happened. The pseudomature behaviors evolved into larger problems and the status of once cool individuals dropped: The adolescent who comes to depend upon pseudomature behavior to gain peer status may gradually need to shift, for example, from minor forms of delinquency, such as vandalism and shoplifting, to more serious acts of criminal behavior to impress even a subset of older peers,” the authors wrote.
The lesson here? Being a nerdy, athletic, drum corps captain, honour-roll student was not such a bad thing after all. Some days back then may have been lonely and yes, I sometimes envied the ‘cool kids’ with their cream-coloured sorority jackets and succession of jock boyfriends, but most of them married early and often. I had a high school football star boyfriend for a while and I felt like I’d won a prize. But he proved to be immature, selfish, inconsiderate and full of himself. <sigh> Some of the high school popular kids died young without ever figuring out who they really were or how they fit into the greater scheme of things. That’s not to say that the rest of us didn’t have ‘challenging life experiences’.
Perhaps because we weren’t in the ‘In-Crowd’, we didn’t have so much external approval to live up to and could be satisfied with what we eventually got. I loved high school. Still have my best friend from grade 10. No matter what, I’m grateful.