In Junior High, I wore pleather pants from Wal-Mart, probably accessorized with leopard-print sneakers and 12-too-many butterfly clips in my crafty up-do. I proudly told people that I didn’t care what anyone thought about me. I was lying. Truth is, I wore my hair like a drug addict because I wanted to stand out. And as far as the pleather pants, those were in style, okay? My little sister got a pair too because I’m a terrible influence. We were a couple of tweens in mass-market pleather. With braces. Visualize that.
I walked around campus in 7th grade, internally screaming, “Like me! Like me!” However, I desired approval from a specific group of people. Like a barnacle on a rock, I attached myself to a girl in the popular group. Getting her approval gained me a spot at their lunch table. Ironically, this girl ended up becoming the greatest friend that I’ve ever had. Anyways, remember in Mean Girls when Regina George compliments some girl’s skirt and then trash talks behind her back? This happened to me all the time with this group. I mean, I wore pleather pants for god’s sake.
Eventually, I was literally dismissed from the group. The unofficial leader of the in-crowd stood up in the middle of lunch, silenced the table and yelled, “Get up! You can’t sit with us anymore!” She went off on me until I left the table crying…by myself. She was a real-life Regina George. (Her dad died a week later. Don’t mess with karma). In my 12 years of life, it was the worst day that I had ever had. I was humiliated. That day, I realized how cruel people can be. After I moved on from that nightmare at the lunch tables, I learned that it’s so important not to let the opinions of others rule your life. Unless you’re Beyonce, not everyone is going to like you. And that’s totally okay. It doesn’t matter what other people think about you. It matters what YOU think about you.
Of course, this was all before joining Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Today, we can directly let people know if we like them with the push of a button. When one of your “friends” posts a profile picture, you get to decide whether you ‘like’ their face or not. When it comes to those photos, some people have hundreds of likes while others have one or none. Sometimes it feels like a popularity contest all over again. In fact, I have friends who aren’t on Facebook anymore for that exact reason. It’s exhausting.
According to Time Magazine, “the most common cause of Facebook frustration comes from users comparing themselves socially to their peers, while the second most common source of dissatisfaction is ‘lack of attention’ from having fewer comments, likes, and general feedback compared to friends.” But let’s face it, Facebook is a great way to stay connected and I’m not planning on going anywhere. Instead of deleting your account, the next time you find yourself scrolling through status updates and comparing yourself with others, just STOP. We’re not in 7th grade anymore.