The Popular Girls

by Heligirl on June 17, 2010

in Daily Ramblings

Nothing made me feel so insignificant as the popular girls. The way they looked down their noses, speaking in hushed tones and looking over at me in such a way that threatened me to not dare to eavesdrop, only added to the lonely, outcast feeling I had in high school.

Straddling two very affluent neighborhoods, our high school was exceptionally cliquey. The popular girls typically came from those neighborhoods, bragging about their family possessions – boats, cars, hot tubs, new CD players (it was the 80s and those cost hundreds), etc. Their parents supported them going to parties and they never missed the hottest rock concerts despite the cost of tickets and 100+ miles drive to the closest concert venue. They always had boyfriends.

However, I don’t remember any of them being particularly gorgeous. I wasn’t jealous of their looks as I was of their open doors. I wanted so bad to be on student council, represent our school in honor society events, get the chance to speak, and be in the school play, but those were honors reserved only for the popular people.

My feelings about the popular girls changed last summer at my 20th reunion. Now when I look back at them and the things I remember most about them, I realize they were, and still are, some of the most insecure people on the planet. They needed that constant attention and validation to feel good about themselves. And their favorite way to feel superior was to put those around them down.

I remember one commenting on my limp in middle school (a result of hip dysplasia I had at birth): “I don’t know what I’d do if I had a crippled child.” (She got so drunk at our 20th she puked in the bathroom. Her son wasn’t crippled as far as I know, even though I wished she would have to face that kind of challenge. Maybe God knew she was too weak to handle it.)

I remember another looking up hopefully as I entered my chemistry class in 11th grade only to announce to the class, “oh, it’s just you, the infamous Jenny.” (I must admit I enjoyed watching her breast fall out of her dress at our 20th reunion while she was dancing.)

Then there was the one who went on a Jesus kick. One morning in history class she was talking about how she’s changed and she realizes the importance of being nice to everyone, even the less fortunate, then she immediately turned to me and started asking me questions about myself. She was clearly under the impression I was less fortunate than her. (She attended the reunion in a skimpy outfit and clearly fake-n-bake tan. She said her obligatory few words of greetings to me, but that was about it. Guess she’s not feeling so compelled to talk to the little people anymore.)

I wish I could say they were fat, ugly and lonely at the reunion. The popular girls were not. But the ones who were not as popular were by far the best to talk with that night. They wanted to ask you questions as much as they wanted to tell you their story. They looked you in the eyes and sincerely listened, smiling, rather than looking off around them as you spoke. I remember them being far more beautiful that night.

It just goes to show that being popular in high school doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have a happy, well adjusted life. Quite the contrary. I hope my daughter is never one of the popular girls. That way she’ll learn to treat others with respect in order to get respect, and she’ll develop a healthy attitude and strength around disappointment. And when she attends her 20th, the first thing that naturally comes out of her mouth as she sees each old classmate will be “How have you been?” rather than “let me tell you about what I’ve done.”

Brought you you by the Mama Kat Writer’s Workshop.


Natalie June 17, 2010 at 5:54 am

This is great writing, and every word of it is SO true!

Twitter: Heligirl
June 17, 2010 at 8:59 am

Thanks. I was rather annoyed with our high school reunion because I worked my ass off on the reunion committee, less than 1/3 of the classmates came, and most were the self-centered losers I could have gone the rest of my life not seeing. The others though made the whole thing worthwhile. If anything, the reunion showed me that 2/3 of the class felt as I did about high school. I was never as alone as I thought. 🙂

Matt June 17, 2010 at 11:33 am

High school reunions… Painful, funny, life affirming, sad, surreal. Mine was odd in that success and happiness seemed to be split between boys and girls. Many of the guys in my class are now overweight and super into their gas powered toys, golf, “good” booze, and careers as mid-level managers. No real conversations to be had. The ladies were a lot different. Most of them seemed to have bloomed are really interesting and up to cool things: My 10th grade lab partner qualified for the Boston Marathon 3 times, the awkward mousy girl in civics is super-hot, many have great careers, beautiful kids and husbands that were interesting to talk to. There were a couple of doctors and engineers thrown in the mix. funnily enough, there were one popular boobs that fell out during the dance at mine as well. Must be a reunion thing…

Heligirl June 17, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Yes, all too sad in many ways. But I did get in touch with a few folks I’d been wondering about. Some were down right nice to chat with. I found a handful of the guys were down to earth now. The guy that had the locker next to me was not a doctor. He even bought me a drink that night. I think my favorite part was meeting everyone’s kids the next day.

Roxane June 17, 2010 at 12:47 pm

This is such an inspiring post. I feel the same way about my daughter. There is a lot of joy in knowing you have scruples and all they have is their unrequited popularity.

Loved it!

Heligirl June 17, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Yes, it was quite surreal. Glad I did it. Glad it’s behind me. I can now go another 20 years before I do that again.

The Bipolar Diva June 17, 2010 at 2:03 pm

You pretty much hit the nail on the head with this post!

Heligirl June 17, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Thanks girl!

ericka @ alabaster cow June 17, 2010 at 5:49 pm

wow, very well written! and incredibly true. i so want to raise ava to be a kind, considerate person because i know if she thinks of others second she’ll be putting her insecurities first.

Heligirl June 17, 2010 at 6:32 pm

I love how you put that Erika. What a great way to think of it.

LCW June 18, 2010 at 4:52 am

I wrote a high school reunion post. I was definitely unpopular. Here’s the link if you’re interested in how I felt.

I feel you. I do.

Heligirl June 18, 2010 at 8:45 am

Wow. Just read your post. That’s exactly how I felt for my 10 year. By the time the 20 year came around, I was thinking I wanted to see how everyone was, if they’d matured and actually just cared about each other. On a whole, that was the case. And it was a great healing exercise for me. I’m glad I went to the 20th, but glad I missed the 10th. The 10th is really more about showing off.

KLZ June 18, 2010 at 8:05 am

Oh, my. I’m so glad you went to your reunion. I still fully plan to boycott mine but I am glad, glad, glad you went.

JennyB June 18, 2010 at 8:15 am

Reunions- another is coming up for me and I expect to be part of the planning committee. Would love to have a fun time agog at the variety of directions life has taken us since high school, but know some of us will revert to those old attitudes we had as teenagers. Maybe we’ll grow out of that by the 30th reunion?

Krista @ Not Mommy of the Year June 18, 2010 at 5:34 pm

oh. high school. for every good memory i have with friends that i laughed, cried and drank lots of beer with, i have memories of the girls that stuck their noses in the air when i walked in a room, the ones who started a rumor that i was pregnant and the ones for who i was never quite good enough. so much of it frightens me for my daughter because in many ways it is so much worse now.

&ps. your comcast post. loved it. that company is awful. we have them too for the same reason you stated. but i call them so often i have their number programmed into my phone.

Booyah's Momma June 18, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Great post as usual.

Like you, I don’t necessarily want my daughter to be popular. But I certainly wouldn’t wish unpopularity on her, either. Being a teenager sucks big fat monkey balls, no matter who you are. The big thing for me is that she treats other people with respect, tolerance and kindness. Easier said than done, for sure. But if she does that, she’ll have all the “right” people as friends.

Tracy (AKA The Mayor!) June 18, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Very poignant, & sadly, very true! Fantastic post, & I bet it was rather cathartic to write it also!!


Susan June 19, 2010 at 7:33 am

“she’ll learn to treat others with respect in order to get respect, and she’ll develop a healthy attitude and strength around disappointment”

You are using one of the best, healthiest, and proven parenting philosophies around; and you’re doing a great job. Your kids will be fantastic. And when they get a bit older and you find a Developing Capable Young People class (or get all the stuff online), they’ll continue to spread their wings and fly with gusto. (I need to post what my capable son did recently).

Enjoyed your post a lot. I was the shy, smart kid in high school, who pretty much blended into the wall. I did participate in activites, but was definitely not popular. My classmates probably saw my exterior life and assumed everything was hunky dory. They didn’t see all the bad things going on at home. My high school years were ones I would never like to relive. However, I have more than come out of my shell, and it would be interesting to see how everyone has grown up. Until they move our reunions to a time of year that I could even consider flying across country, looks like I’ll be missing all of them. (Who the heck has reunions the weekend after Thanksgiving, after about the 5th reunion?)

Molly June 20, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Hi, new reader here! LOVE this post. I am four years out of High School and I had no plans on going to my reunion of any sort. Now I’m thinking I’ll go. I want to see who has changed, and I want to find out what people are up to. I want to be that person who genuinely wants to know how someone is. and it would be nice to get confirmation that I’m not the only one who felt the way I did about High School!

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