Friday, March 18, 2011

The Many Faces of We

I have this theory that makes no sense, but at the same time makes as much sense as a fictional theory really can.  I have a theory that by the time a person turns 19 they have already been three different versions of themselves and are on their way to become at least two more.  Now, keep in mind I am not the entire world, I don’t know about your situation, I don’t know about your best friend’s situation, I don’t know about your neighbor, and I certainly don’t know about you six cousin  twice removed.  I am just generalizing here.  It’s not necessarily the theory that makes the difference; it’s the ideas behind it.

Think back to elementary school.  In elementary school, we’re all sweet, innocent, naïve children whose minds have yet to be corrupted by the real world.  We’re all basically friends, because to be honest, we don’t know what enemies are.  I mean, we do know from TV what the means girls are and what dating is, but we have all yet to really experience it.  We all still play on the same playground together, and dating involves a girl being chased around the playground by a guy- then bam they’re dating.  In elementary school the world has two factions: popular and nonpopular, and to be honest there isn’t much difference between them besides who sits where at lunch.   The biggest news that shakes up the school is when the popular girls want to make over one of the non popular girls.  Of course, this “makeover” usually consists of introducing her to makeup and then letting her sit at the “popular” table for a week.  And then after that, things usual go back to normal.  But honestly, in elementary school we’re all equal to one another.  We all give each other valentines on Valentine’s day after all.  Of course there was always that someone a girl was crushing on and the most embarrassing thing to ever happen would be if they found out.  Which really couldn’t have been that hard since we would scribble their name in a heart and play name games to see how compatible we were.   Basically, back then we were at our best and our sweetest.

But middle school brings a different world.  Those are the transition years.  We learn then what materialism is.  Cell phones are a big thing and everyone wants one so they are “cool.”  By middle school we define what cool is.  Well, at least we think we define what cool is because it’s still a mystery to me.  (I always thought it had to do with whoever had the most gum).   But for the middle school definition cool is basically having everything and everyone around you.  Being on top of the social ladder and staying there is the main goal.  And thus the climb begins.  We gain our personalities by middle school.  Whether that is because of the influence of maturity and puberty or if it’s because of the influence of television and movies, we become the first image of who we are.  But personality isn’t the only thing that forms.  We find our best friends, we find the people we want to stay away from, and we form our first cliques.  All we want at this stage in life is acceptance from our peers.  We are most impressionable in our middle school years.  And although we are still images of our elementary school selves nothing about us is the same as we become teenagers. 
But middle school isn’t even the start of the changes.  When high school begins the entire world changes.  Whereas cliques still exist, the true factions form.  You see the distinct formation of an upper, middle and lower class.  Popularity is actually a real thing now, and what you own, what you can afford, or at least what you can pretend you can afford is all that really matters.   The popular crowd usually includes a few different cliques.  The jocks, the cheerleaders, the rich kids, the pretty ones, it’s a pretty typical stereotypical society.  The middle class is made up of people who could be either upper class or lower class, but stick to middle.  These are the cliquiest of the cliques, at least in the girls.  It’s the climb.  Everyone wants to be on top and in the middle class, you can actually push your way up the ladder.  They would hate each other for their weaknesses, or sometimes even for their strengths.  Jealousy was high.  Of course why wouldn’t it be?  The middle class was full of fenemies when it came to the girls.  The lower class fills your geeks and your freaks and your anime lovers and your gamers.  In other words, the lower class is the outsider’s class.  But to be honest, the lower class is filled with the people who know who they are, even if they do at times want to change that because of the pressure society pushes on them to do so.

We tend to discover how mean the human race is at this point.  How there are truly actually mean people in the world and how some people are actually nice.  Whereas bullying happened in middle school, it was mostly just physical.  Bullying in high school tends to be much more verbal and much more abusive.  If you aren’t the way someone thinks you should be, they are either going to let you know, or they are going to talk about it behind your back and let everyone else know all about it.  That is the worst kind of bullying because it will follow wherever you go.  We also learn that there are some truly annoying people in the world.  And also some actually nice people.  But the question is which of those people are we?

High school is the time of discovery.  Although we mostly think that we know who our friends are, there is really too much happening in life for us to be really sure.  We’re still trying to figure out what sports we like, what we like to do in our free time, what after school activities and clubs we want to join.  So naturally we join things with our friends so we can stay close and we can spend time together, but things in high school don’t stay the same.  After all, we have become our own individuals by this time.  We can think on our own, instead of in middle school where we thought the same way our entire group thought, and we have our own interests and our own goals.  Things change throughout high school as we discover who we are and what we want.  We start thinking about what careers we want, colleges we want, and where we want to go someday.  It’s only natural that we fall away from the people who don’t want the same things as we do.  We find ourselves wondering who the real us is.  And at that point, we have to start being around the people we can be real around.  Whether that means leaving our clique or staying there, the journey begins there.  If the strength is there, we can stay with our high school clique, but if it’s not the friendship was never there and changes need to be made.

By the end of high school we don’t necessarily know who we are, but we know who we don’t want to be.  The upper class doesn’t want to be the lower class.  The middle class still wants to be on top, and the lower class wants to be real.  (Well at least in my experience don’t hate on me if I’m wrong).  We know what we dream about from life and we have those first formulations of our goals.  But in reality our journey has just begun and now we need to discover who we can be, not just who we want to be.  That’s where the journey begins.  That’s how we got to the journey.   By 16 we can drive, and around 16 we can take the steering wheels our lives and we can start to become who we want to be. 

This is where I am on my journey.  Where are you?

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