When you’re in high school, there is something that consumes you. This drive to be popular and sit where everybody sits. To show off the fact that you can drive (extra social points if it’s a German car). To have the new Longchamp bag (which I convinced my mom I needed). Personally, I always felt consumed by this necessity to be popular and have a lot of friends, often sacrificing my own integrity just to feel accepted.
Flash forward to the end of senior year, and suddenly I realized that the people I was so keen on staying friends with didn’t really value my friendship or who I was. I knew that if I was absent one day, no one would have really noticed or questioned it. When I was actually with them, I always felt like I was walking on eggshells, always having to think about if what I said would come across as uncool. I felt very alone and I started counting down the days until I graduated.
Luckily, I always had people who didn’t really care about those kinds of things. I could be my genuine self around them, making my stupid jokes or dancing insanely at a party, knowing they wouldn’t judge me. But there was always that lingering desire I had to be one of the “cool kids.”
By the end of high school, I thought I was missing out on something because I didn’t have that picture perfect friend group –– just a couple of close people here and there. I didn’t have the huge friend group that sat together with the rest of the grade on the quad. When it came to ditch day, the tradition was for seniors to go camping on the beach in Santa Cruz, CA. While most people had groups sharing a tent, it ended up just being just me and my best friend. It was fun, spending the night at the beach with the rest of the grade and our other friends, but there were a lot of moments where I felt having a big, close friend group would’ve been more fun.
Flash forward to right now in college. That concept of being popular and being one of the cool kids doesn’t really exist. People care less about things like that here. They gravitate towards people they enjoy spending time with, rather than who will get the most likes for them on social media. The people I choose to spend time appreciate my company as much as I do theirs, whether it’s cracking jokes over dinner or heading to a party. I found that I didn’t need a huge friend group, but rather a few close people among friends and acquaintances. As someone who struggled with fake people and cliques throughout high school, I’m glad to say that in college, I have met people who like me for me, and the rest of it doesn’t matter.