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Popularity. The big deal about middle school. Everyone wants to be popular at one point. It gives you power. Other classmates look up to you. People even feel intimidated by your presence. This is my experience with popularity in middle school.
First day of middle school. I came from a very small elementary school and I had few friends coming into middle school with me. They were in my class though. Right when I got into the class, I began to feel nervous. so many new people were together in their groups.
My sister, who was in 8th grade, had a friend whose sister, Amy, was in my class. We went to the pool together over the summer and we got along very well. I kept glancing at her, seeing if she remembered me. She was focused on her group but did wave to me. My elementary friends were very shy but I approached their group and made small talk. I felt on top of the world when they laughed at my jokes.
I joined cross country about two weeks into school. At that point, I was pretty friendly with Amy's group but I was very aware of myself whenever I was talking to them. None of my elementary friends were in cross country so I awkwardly hung around Amy's group.
One day, I hurt my knee and started crying after a practice. Two people in Amy's group were looking at me when I went to my mom. I felt terrible and I thought they were judging me for crying. I was so scared they wouldn't like me.
After practice on a Friday, I got invited to Amy's group with the cross country people. We got along very well and laughed a bunch. After that, I felt invincible. Then at school, I sat with them at lunch. I kept sitting with them day after day. I barely hung out with my elementary friends.
I became very close with Amy's group and we hung out on weekends a lot. There were 300 people in my grade and it was two or three months into school. People were still getting to know each other and there really was no "Popular" yet. I'm not sure how it happened, but a huge group that came from a different elementary school became popular.
I felt very comfortable with my group but I was jealous of the popular people. I was going to go to a different high school than all of my friends but the popular people were going to mine. I wanted to get to know them. The thing is, I didn't really have any classes with them except for homeroom. I didn't really know those people but they were friends with a person from my friend group.
I wanted to know them. I laughed with them a couple of times but nothing really escalated to "friends." I really wanted to get to know them. I knew them from social media and other friends. Some of the populars seemed super nice but others—not so much. On some of the Instagram posts, they posted pictures and all of the comments were like "Babes." "Hotties." "Omg you are so hot!" "You guys are my babes!" In my opinion, what?!?! They were in 6th grade and saying stuff like that. But still, I wanted to be friends with them. I was drawn to their power.
One time, I was talking to one of my other friends in a different class at lunch and one of the most popular people in the grade, Jessica, (even her name sounded preppy) was staring at me. I then saw her turn to her friend and whisper something. I then thought about my outfit, my hair, etc. I was so aware of myself. What was she whispering about? Did she think I was a try-hard? I didn't even know if she was whispering about me! I was just confused.
Later on in the school year, I got a little closer to one of the very popular people but I still wasn't exactly friends with her. The people she was friends with were so fake. One girl completely ignored me one semester, then loved me for one second in the other semester, then went back to ignoring me. She was just too obsessed with being popular to talk to me.
I wasn't exactly unpopular, but I wasn't a part of the big, popular group. I eventually got so tired of trying to be friends with them that I started to not even care. They were fake and acted like they were in high school. I was just myself and I didn't care what the populars thought.
I even asked my mom about it. She said to switch roles with them. If I was talking to one of them, act like I had all of the power and like I had nothing to lose. That really helped me be more confident in myself. I got very close with my friends and I even think the populars started to like me. I still didn't care about that. I didn't let their presence throw me off, I was comfortable with myself.
What was the big deal about being popular anyway? What were the advantages? The popular life isn't that amazing. I figured out that that's where all of the drama was. On and off friends, boys, dating. All of this unnecessary drama was in their group. People were dating in 6th grade! I didn't really want a part of that.
I hope my experience was interesting to you. Maybe it helped put popularity into perspective. You really don't need to be popular to be happy. I got good grades in middle school but most of the populars didn't. I'm fascinated why cussing and being dumb and being inappropriate makes you popular. What was so bad about being smart? Just be yourself and you will figure out where you belong. Thank you!