Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Curse of Popularity?

I wasn't one of the popular kids in school.  I was fortunate to always have a solid group of friends.

But something strange has happened in adulthood.

I think I might be popular.  But I'm not sure what that means.

In junior high and high school, there were clear lines and groups and certain groups were definitely popular.  My personal experience was that the lines were very solidly drawn in junior high.  I changed schools for high school and entered a different educational environment so the groups were still there but the hard lines weren't as hard.  Had I stayed in the school system that my junior high was in, I think the lines would have stayed solid.

In college, I didn't have any lines.  There were groups - but it was based on interests or major or dorm or whatever.  Maybe if I'd gone to a college with a greek culture (sororities and frats), it would have been different.

As an adult... I find that popularity might be more of an individual thing?

I am a confident person.  I try to be authentic and honest and sincere.  I have several people in my life that I consider to be friends or even good friends and a couple people I would like to think of as my best friends.  The circles for these people in my life don't always overlap - another piece of that adulthood puzzle.

Somewhere along the way, I heard someone claim that being popular was hard.  It was back when I was not part of the popular clique in school and I rolled my eyes and dismissed the idea.

But in the past few years, that idea keeps echoing in my head.

It seems that I might be someone that other people like and maybe even enjoy being around.  It seems that some people think highly of my opinions and my input and my ideas.  I put a lot of that out there (*ahem, blogging*) so it's easy for anyone to be "part of me" in some sense.

I've found myself in church leadership and that seems to have impacted my popularity status, too.  There is something about being in any kind of leadership in a church that seems to put you on a different platform.

So here I am... trying to just do the best I can each day... struggling with parenting... suffering through a hard year at work and now enjoying a much better pace and situation... openly talking about how much I adore Christ... baring my soul and opinions on equality and racism and sexism and gay people... blogging... singing... working... parenting... loving... living.

And I've got my family.  And I've got my friends.

And sometimes, who I am and who people think I am slam together and then things aren't so comfortable.

Being confident doesn't mean I don't have feelings.

Spreading a message of love doesn't mean I don't need to feel loved.

Singing every week doesn't mean I don't want to sometimes hear that I did a good job.

Being in leadership of any kind doesn't mean I know anything more than anyone else.

I recently had a conversation where I was told that people want to be my friend.  However, I have to tell you, not many people show it.  Like... I can tell when someone is pleased that I shook their hand or hugged them or stopped to chat.

it is very hard to say what i want to say without sounding completely egotistical

If you like me... please know that I most likely like you, too.  And I want to know that you like me.  If you want to get to know me on a more personal level, I'm all for it.  Yes, it can be a challenge.  I fully admit that I can be a difficult person to be friends with - mostly due to my family's needs and schedule.  But I don't want to love people in a general sense.  I want to authentically care for you - and I long to be cared about by others.  In an authentic way, a real way.

I recently had an experience that has led to some... changes, I think, in some of my relationships.  And part of why it's happened is because people think I don't need them.

I need people.

Just because you think I'm popular or confident or if it seems like I've got my crap together in some special way...

I'm still the dorky junior high kid who was voted Class Bookworm.

I'm still the kid who felt like she was from the wrong side of the tracks in high school.

I'm still the girl who was broken and used.

I'm totally the mom who often feels like a failure or -worse- suddenly realizes that she feels apathy towards the everyday problems that seem to have no solution.

In the eyes of God, I am special and loved and adored.

In the eyes of the world, I'm just a human being.  I'm just me.  I'm just as broken and used and dorky and white trash and whatever else... I've just found a balance.  I've found ways to heal.  I've found ways to lift up.

So maybe I've got this curse of popularity.  I don't really know.  I don't think of myself as popular or any more different or special than most anyone else.  It seems like I'm starting to see people treating me differently... and maybe that's what the curse is all about.

If you think I'm somehow above you or more liked than you or in any way better than you - I'M NOT.

If you think I don't need you... I DO.

If you think I don't care or wouldn't want to be bothered... you're wrong.

One of my main values in life is being authentic in my relationships and I generally think I read people well enough to know if they are being authentic with me.

Sometimes I'm wrong.

But please don't assume that because you think someone is strong or confident or popular that the person doesn't need you or want you or notice you or like you.

Because that's the real curse of popularity.  People thinking that because they perceive you as strong or confident or popular that you somehow don't have needs, that there isn't a place for them in your life - and that can lead to alienating, excluding, and hurting someone's feelings.  Even unintentionally.

And what it boils down to... like most everything in life...

Love.  If we make our choices based in love, in acceptance, in embracing others... deciding that someone else is confident or popular or strong doesn't matter.  Because all you are choosing to do is love them - not choosing to decide if they need your love or not.



Unknown said...

During my early adulthood years, I was on the music team at a large church. In addition, I was one of the founders of the school there that grew into a reputable and large institution. People knew me well. I had been popular too in high school. To this day, I have people remember me that I don't know. I feel like I never met them. It's a strange feeling to be seen as important by others. I try to avoid the personality cult in Honduras that surrounds white non-profit workers. I think I have been fairly successful in establishing the idea that I am just part of the team in my ministry here. I wash dishes, I wear an apron and clean the building if that's needed, etc. I have done my best to model servanthood to my team. Now I am ready to find another project as this team "gets" it, I think. Hang in there.

Unknown said...

I think even the most popular people in the world need to know they are genuinely and truly loved.