May 31, 2012

Thoughts on Popularity

I was driving in my car, listening to the radio and the song "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye came on.  Again.  Saying that song is on rotation, is putting it mildly.  It's played on the hour, every hour, over and over again.

Several months ago, before that song blew up, I was obsessed with it.  Obsessed.  I would turn it up loud with the windows in my car rolled down, sing along, and press repeat to the happiness of my heart.  It was the first song that came out in a long time that sounded, different.  "Somebody..." wasn't just some meaningless, over-produced, over-sexed pop song that's been thrown at us by music execs and radio djs.  No, this song embodied the heart and emotion of a true artist.  And even though I couldn't necessarily relate to the lyrics, he drew me in, as he has most people.

When I hear the song on the radio, now that it has been inducted into the ranks of popular music, I've noticed it's changed; radio edit.  As if it wasn't perfect just the way it was, with it's funky beat, staccato, and bravado.  Now there is a strong club-like beat that wasn't there before.  Someone, somewhere felt the need to make it sound like all the rest...which got me thinking about popularity.

I never considered myself popular.  I felt like I always struggled.  I remember my freshman year of high school.  Large groups of girls gathered together all over campus and huddled in tight circles, talking, laughing, eating lunch.  And then there was me and my friend Cassie, on the outside and unsure of where we fit in.  We huddled alone together, just the two of us, away from everyone else.  And secretly, no - desperately, I hoped no one would notice me.  It was a moment in life where I physically wish I could have just disappeared.  You see, I was shy, insecure and unaware.  Eventually, we did move on to make a small group of friends, but still, I never felt like I fit in.  I'm sure I wasn't alone in that feeling.  

Looking back, I am grateful for the fact that I had my moments of struggle.  Because even when we're going through it, and it feels hard, and you have these days where all you want to do is curl up and cry, you're learning so much about yourself.  Fitting in can sometimes feel like you have to be like everybody else.  That you have to adjust your own rhythm and beat, just to keep up.

Maybe, if you find yourself in similar shoes to my fifteen year old self, redefine what it means to be "unpopular".  Look at it this way; you're not unpopular, you're just under the radar.  You're like this amazing song that's yet to be discovered.  As for me?  At 27, it's safe to say that I am much more confident in the person I've become.  That shy, insecure girl who felt she had to battle the world alone?  Well, she's just somebody that I used to know. 


Unknown said...

You rule.. it's as simple as that.

Sally said...

I took becoming a mom to realize what my song is. I'm a 180 from HS, for the better. I'm glad I was never "popular," it helped shape me into the strong, confident 28 year old I am today! Good post!

kelli {} said...

what a lovely and honest and poignant post. I've read it 3 times, because as someone who felt much the same way in my younger years, I felt so akin to this. And, it's awesomely written. And I like you very much.

Britt { Magpie Collective } said...

It's funny, because we seem to identify with that 15 year old version of ourselves as adults. I still sometimes feel like I'm not necessarily cool enough, funny enough or good looking enough to be in a certain group of friends.

I will talk to anyone, and have confidence in my ability to strike up conversation, anywhere, anytime. Put a pretty 'popular' girl in the room, and suddenly I'm hiding in the bathroom checking my Twitter.

I am and always will be my own person, even if it isn't the most popular choice. But sometimes that silly, frizzy headed, bespectacled and brace faced teenager still peeks out, hoping to finally not feel outside of the fringe.

The Secondhand Magpie

Unknown said...

Great post. Very well said!

Kristin said...

Thank you for sharing this. I loved it. Even as adults, it's good to be reminded that it's OK to have your own beat, your Different beat than the masses. I think even in blogland we try to fit in, and conform, and do what blogger "a", "b", "c", and "d" are doing that contributed to their success. But I never want to lose who I am. Thanks for the reminder!

Rach said...

love this--thankful you've had this experience in your life. happy weekend!

Sarah said...

LOVED this post! "'re not unpopular, you're just under the radar. Like an amazing song that's yet to be discovered." SUCH a great analogy and I hope this encourages your younger readers because it is SO true.
So, on the opposite end of the spectrum, I was extremely popular in high school. To be fair, I went to a very small school so it wasn't very hard to be popular! :) But I CERTAINLY had major insecurities just like every other girl. It's encouraging and sweet to know that no matter your high school or college experience, things get better, not worse with age. I am 29 now and SO much more confident in my own skin. Thanks so much for sharing these awesome and uplifting thoughts! You are awesome!

Unknown said...

What an awesome well written post! I can really appreciate when bloggers take the time to really put thought into their writing :)

Perfectly Jenn said...

This post speaks to me because I was that same high schooler and if I had known then what I know now, I'm sure I might have been a bit different. But I like the way I am now and wouldn't go back and change a thing

LisaC said...

What a great post!

ilene @ muchloveilly said...

great post, girl! it's encouraging to look back to see how our past experiences (no matter how painful or awkward they were at the time) shape up to be the person that we are today! love this and the play on words with the song. :)

ChinkyGirLMeL said...

ooooh I love this post. Very well said. I love the unedited version of the song, it was very unique.

Maria Larsen said...

I love this. Simply enough.

Jenni@Story of My Life said...

Absolutely love this Katie, and loved your last line, especially. Nice way to tie in the song. :)

I relate... like, serrrrriously relate. Lol. Weirdly, the blog world has been one of the first places in life I've really felt like I fit in! :)

jenn~the stylish housewife said...

love this post so much. i'm just so happy to be at an age where fitting in just does not matter any more. it is like the one good thing about getting older. i may have more wrinkles and grey hair but i'm happier than i've ever been. and you KNOW this song is played out when our stroller strides class is even blaring it for our abs work out. lol. it is a great song though. =)

xoxo, jenn
the stylish housewife

Unknown said...

Don't you just wish we could go back and tell our younger selves it's all going to work out okay?

Great post! xoxo ~L

Jessica said...

I doubt i've ever commented on your blog, but I have been following for a few months. but this deserves a comment..
Simply put that was the most amazing post ive read on a blog in a long time! I might have to link your post on my blog, if that is ok with you!
I too love this song:)

CoastWithMe said...

Wow, so beautifully written! Love the insight, Katie! Great post:))!

Lindsay Rondo said...

love your thoughtful words.

Neris / Fashion Fractions said...

such a sweet post and beautiful photo Katie! i was also pretty insecure during my early teens and thankfully became much more confident as i grew older :)

Happy Friday!


Fashion Fractions

Lou said...

I love this post and it is so true. As a teenager I was always trying to fit in with others and finding it hard to find out who I really was without others telling me.

As I have grown older I have realised that it is important to be my own person and I don't need to fit in with the others around me.


Anonymous said...

great post. I don't think I'm fully over the way I felt when I was a teen, and I doubt I ever will. it's just part of who I am. it's lingering on as being constantly aware of social dynamics and interactions. this makes life mor difficult at times, but it's a skill I'm in retrospect glad I acquired when I was much younger. and it's a skill you only acquire if you were on the outside looking in.

Jen said...

It's funny, as soon as you are out of high school and into the "real world" it's like all of that popularity doesn't matter. I knew "popular" girls who left high school and went to university, only to drop out a few weeks in because they couldn't handle the pressure of not being the big fish anymore. I feel like the unpopular, outcast type high schoolers often end up being better prepared for life after high school. Some of the popular kids from my school seem to be only live in the past and talk about high school being the best time of their lives. Kind of sad if we are expected to live 80 or 90 years and "the best time" of your life is when you were 16. Great Post!

Marie-Claude said...

Great post. Thank you for sharing.

Mandi said...

I love this post and that it resonated with so many of us, and Jen made such a good point. I was never part of the "in" crowd, but was never fully excluded from it either. I made my decisions against the norm, and took into consideration what my parents advised though not always the way of popularity. Now in my mid-30's I see so many people who weren't part of the "in" crowd who are strong, solid, uniquely wonderful men & women. They were usually encouraged through those awkward times & blossomed later in life in spite of their high school years. And as Jen said, I see too many from the "in" crowd who struggle with their place and identity when popularity isn't quite as important. Thankfully, I’ve had several opportunities to connect and share with different high school kids that I know, boys & girls alike, that our standing in high school isn’t what defines us. Basically, they just need to get through it. There’s a big wonderful world with so many different people out there. It’s been fun & a blessing to see these kids blossom into who they are while in college. Thanks so much for sharing something so personal.

Erica | cupcakes and coffee breaks said...

This is such a great and well-written post! I can totally relate to how you felt, and am glad we both seem to have a good grip on our lives now, years later. And I am still totally obsessed with that song...

Leah said...

I just saw the music video for that song the other day, and you're right, they changed it to suit a wider audience. I think that happens a lot with people too. We want to have as many friends (or followers) as possible so we change who we are or what we are really passionate about in order to be cool... thanks for sharing your story.

Angie said...

I love this! Thank you for sharing! Have an incredible weekend!

Anonymous said...

Great post. I never felt unpopular but always compared myself to the more popular kids and still can't help but gawk at those people who walk into a room and own it, making you feel inferior (without meaning to). How do they do that? I wonder if they ever felt the way you did? Were they born "popular" and confident? Such an interesting subject and really a cornerstone of high school life. Thanks for sharing.

Gina said...

Katie! This is such a beautifully honest post. and what I love so much about you / your blog. Not only are you gorgeous, fun and stylish, but you are so genuine! I can relate to this post bc I was very much the same way when I was that age.
You certainly shine now, and I have a feeling you did then too, but you just didn't know it:-)
xoxo! -Gina

bestofthebishops said...

Fantastic post! Looking at your blog daily...I would've imagined that you were somebody that everybody knew. You are beautiful!

Unknown said...

great post! when it comes to growing up we all have our moments of insecurity and change, right? but i'm sure that's the way growing up should be to become the person we are/will be.
also, i love that song too. :)

Ty said...

This is probably your best post so far and now my favourite! :)

Joyce said...

I noticed they changed the song too, loved the way it was before. I had the same experience in high school, I was the misfit pretty much. Now that Im older, i look back at it and just wished to not have been sooo terribly shy and to be the person I am today. But you live and keep on learning. great post! :)

Mz Savvy Style said...

So well said! Loved this!

rramos said...

This was awesome. :) made tear up a little bit.

SK said...

I love your blog! You have wonderful taste! Would love it if you would check out mine, and follow :)

Katie said...

thank you! this post is exactly what I've needed to hear the past 2 days. thank you.

Sierra said...

Wonderfully said! I know how you felt in High School...I was much in the same boat. It is nice singing that song and knowing that it was someone that we used to know. Now we are free to embrace the person we have become!

Pamela said...

Thanks a lot for sharing. Really. I think often times, ppl just assume that if you're pretty and "put together," that you've always been that way. And if you're not naturally outgoing and always up for something "fun" (bar hopping, clubbing, going out all the time, etc.) then you MUST have been a loser/dork in the past despite the fact that you look the part of a popular person. Ugh, does that make sense out of my head?

Sorry, lots of incoherent rambling ... This just really resonated with me. Thanks!

April said...

I read your post a few days ago and it really resonated within me. I was that girl - the one that rumours were made up about, the 'unpopular' one, the one who always struggled to fit in, the girl who held her friendships strong and true - I'm still that girl.

Around Year 10, I had had enough of being bullied and grew some personality and decided to stop letting myself being everyone's joke. But still at 16 and even upon leaving High School at 18, I still had alot of developing to do. I went to uni. Dropped half of the 'friends' that I thought I had when I really didn't. Created my own fashion sense and learnt how to accept myself. Made lots of great new friends that I hold extremely close to my heart, met the most gorgeous man in my life and fell in love and worked hard to accomplish my goals. And then Facebook came along.

Suddenly, 'friend requests' came popping through and I struggled to wonder why these people that I went to school with suddenly wanted to find out how I was going. I gave them the benefit of the doubt, believing them to have grown up as much as I had. It became plainly obvious however that it wasn't the case and after being down the street one day on an endless afternoon running errands and running into several 'Facebook friends' and been given the cold shoulder and obvious down casting of eyes that the 'unpopular' tag still existed. Once again, it was a hard lesson to learn. I then became angry at myself: what did I have to prove them all? Why did I accept them? Did I really want to fit in with that? The answer was no. They were deleted without a second thought and I continued on with my life, feeling sorry for those girls who refuse to socialise with anyone outside of their high school social circle.

Today (three years after doing my Facebook cull)I was in the local supermarket grabbing dinner items. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a girl staring at me. I looked over across at the pharmacy and realised it was a girl that I used to know from school. Our eyes locked for a brief minute and then she tossed her hair and kept walking. I remember thinking to myself 'Yep, you're just somebody I used to know. And I'm glad I don't know you'.

Opaline said...

Completly agree with this musing. Just so relevant.

Anna said...

i love this post. #1: i agree that that song is on the radio WAY too much. I always change the radio now which is sad because i used to love that song!! #2: i was exactly like you in high school. It's crazy how when you grow up and grow into yourself how things change.

Thanks for the lovely perspective!

Hannah said...

Your best post yet.

Sarah said...

I love this post so much katie! I can definitely relate, I was also very shy in high school and felt pretty much exactly the same as you. Something I do not think about much anymore, but a good reminder of how far you've come =).

Unknown said...

amazingly written post, you hit the nail on the head with the song and your experience. Im only 24 and think I still have a way to go to finding who I really am, but its ok to not know just yet, right? Lifes experiences make you the person you are so while deep down we may be the same person as we always were, different traits emerge and strengthen as time goes on.

Anonymous said...

I meant to leave this sooner as I am behind a few days...I am a new follower of your blog and something that I love about you is how real and down to earth that you are. I think this blogging platform can be used in many ways and it's very refreshing to find people who are encouraging and positive. I also live in Scottsdale. I can't believe I didn't realize that sooner about you, but hopefully someday our paths will cross. I would love to meet you!!! Keep up the great work!!


Anne said...

You always fit in with me <3 Remember... I was the one that saw you on the beach and thought... "I want to be her friend!" So goodbye days of skinny and awkward Katie and HELLO MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN THE WORLD. Just remember when you're even more famous than you already are that I love you NO MATTER WHAT. Blondies forever. This is turning into a yearbook signing hahaha but seriously I do love you :)

MMB said...

I would recognize those plaid skirts anywhere. I was looking through your last three weeks of posts, and now I feel even more connected to your style. I loved most moments in those halls, but I also found the same difficulty feeling connected to others there. I threw myself into academics, but was blessed to finally surround myself with creative, intelligent, faith-filled girls by the end of my time as a Gator. I am so glad that you feel like you have only come into your own after high school. Wouldn't it truly be awful to look back and think that those four short years were the best years of your life? Thanks for your honesty!

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