Yesterday I was stalking old school friends, as I am want to do when I am avoiding responsibility in my own life and I saw the face a of a girl who I wasn’t friends with at school but with who I am now Facebook friends.
She was so beautiful in the photo that I stared mesmerized like any good stalker should do and then promptly went through the rest of her uploaded images. Each image of her living her gorgeous life, married to a successful man who clearly loved her from the look in his eyes when he was next to her, stunning children, surrounded by fabulous friends, her smile large and joyful.
I cast my mind back to her at school. She was quiet, watchful. She had a few close friends but certainly wasn’t what you would consider popular. An outsider on the fringes, not a pariah but more overlooked, perhaps intentionally on her part. What I remember the most of her from school was how utterly beautiful she was then and clearly still is now. The sort of beauty that other girls see but teenage boys don’t yet understand. There was nothing trashy or racy about her so the boys stayed away but she had skin like porcelain and eyes like Michelle Pfeiffer. A gorgeous figure, a peaceful energy and self possession about her that I admired.
Popularity at school is based on being known for something, being good at something or having social currency and being able to influence your peers. None of these applied to her in anyway back then.
Looking at this woman’s life now made me think of high school and how your popularity is in no way an indicator of your success in gaining either friends or lovers as an adult. Thinking about friends who were infinitely more popular at school than this girl and yet whose lives have somehow fallen apart as an adult. I see these sad tales on Facebook and the gossip swapped when I see old friends. I wonder if their expectations as teens set them up for failure as adults.
Being a celebrity at school doesn’t mean you will be one as an adult.
I write this because high school is prevalent in my life right now as I have a teenage daughter.
At her worst, she looks like a young Elizabeth Taylor with a dash of Snow White thrown in for good measure. Dark haired, lily white skin, curvy, different (one green, one blue) colored eyes, rosebud lips, a wicked sense of humor. So naturally, she wishes she were tiny boned, skinny, tanned, blonde like the girls that the boys fight over.
I know her very best qualities are those that are overlooked as a teenager but admired as an adult. I also know that her sense of being an outsider at times will hold her in good stead as an adult. Not just the physical attributes but her remarkable sense of humor, the knowledge that not everything is handed to you and that sometimes you have to work at life to get what you want, you have to try hard and make an effort.
As I looked at the photos of my high school Facebook friend, my daughter wandered past and exclaimed over the woman’s beauty.
“She must have been popular at school.” She said knowingly.
“Nope, she couldn’t get arrested.” I answered. She wasn’t that sort of girl. She had class.
I explained to my girl that the people you to want to be as a teenager are not necessarily the ones you want to be as an adult. That being outside sometimes is an advantage. You get a feel of the game, where the players are and where they fall down. How true friends like you for what you are, and not what you do, or the shoes you wear, or the cool places you go, and chances are those friendships will last a lifetime.
After school finishes you live the life you worked for, not just one you expected to fall into place. People don’t always fall over you as an adult as you have the cool new shoes, smoke dope or have boys fighting over you after school. The air of entitlement that life will fall into place like it did at high school, doesn’t translate in the real world.
People will like you for your kindness, your empathy, how hard you work for what you want, your different coloured eyes, your sense of humour and your peaceful energy and self possession.
High school is scary and not everyone gets out unscarred but looking at the girl on Facebook, who has done better than those expected to most likely to succeed, she played the game well. So, the advice I gave to my girl is to stick to the fringes, stay yourself and keep the faith that that which makes you overlooked in high school will make you exceptional as an adult.
It’s the truth and I have the Facebook evidence as proof.
Have a great day!