Thursday, August 11, 2005

Popular or successful?

I have been doing some PR work for one of my good high school friends who now lives in Arkansas. In high school she was "a smart kid," but also quite "popular." In fact, she was in homecoming every year she was in high school, and was even Homecoming Queen our senior year (oooooo, ahhhhh).

Popularity is a weird thing when you are growing up. Once I hit college, I rarely thought of it again.

Gallup recently did some polling around popularity. The results were interesting:
More respondents said they were popular (74%) than said they were not popular (25%), but only 14% said they were "very popular." Most (60%) described themselves as having been "somewhat popular."

I am not sure how I would answer. I was voted "most school spirit" (I have no idea why) in my senior class superlatives (I think that actually counts against my popular points). I also really liked being friends with the Speech Freaks of which I considered myself one as well.

Gallup explains that Ralph Keyes' 1977 book, "Is There Life After High School?" offers that popular kids who are at the top of their games in high school have nothing to aspire to after graduation. It is the dorks of the world that are motivated to make something of themselves.
Another Gallup poll asked respondents whether they think the popular kids in high school end up being more successful or less so than unpopular kids.

A plurality agree with Keyes' theory, as 37% of respondents said that popular kids are probably less successful later in life than are unpopular kids. A quarter (25%) said popular kids are more successful in their post-high school lives than are unpopular kids. Twenty-four percent volunteered that both groups are probably equally successful.

Sure, this is a pretty unscientific poll or even way to look at popularity, but it's interesting. To bring it home, I think Washington, D.C. in particular is a great place for people who maybe weren't as cool in high school or even college, but have come into their own in this vast land of dorkdom.


Blogger cuff said...

Anecdotal evidence. In my experience, many of those who were most popular in high school tend to flame out when the carpet is yanked out from under them after graduation and they have to begin again. Some adapt. Some don't. A few poor reactions to losing your bearings post-graduation:
1. immediate marriage to other popular high school classmate -- usually results in a few kids and limited prospects and divorce.
2. refusal to leave high school proximity -- frequently attend high school events where kids a few years younger than you still recognize you and look up to you (this only applies to motivation - many people attend events like football games, etc., after their graduation -- in itself it's not indicative of a problem).
3. Frequent appearances at social gatherings of people who hardly knew you wherein you try to recreate the social hiearchy that existed in high school but in reality you are delivering pizzas and the kids who were poor saps in high school are now ordering the pizzas -- was that in a movie?

9:47 AM  
Blogger roosh said...

i got most likely to win the nobel prize. i have failed my class

9:55 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Hmm... I've seen it go both ways. Some of the popular kids from high school have done absolutely nothing with their lives and never quite moved on while everyone around them has. Some, though, just seemed to have a natural affinity for always coming out on top. They're still in great jobs, making great money and are overall really happy in life.

And it's the same with the so-called nerdy kids. Some of them are now super successful and happy and 'popular'... Some of them never quite changed.

I'm not so sure that it's really your past popularity status that determines your future 'popularity' status. I think it comes more from the person that you realize you are once you're out of that awkward teen-age growing up period.

10:01 AM  
Blogger V said...

Mass: Funny stuff, I've seen 1 and 3 a lot.

DCB: It's never too late. Maybe your theories on girls and ice cream can translate into some advanced econonmic theory.

Sara: Yeah, I agree. I do think maybe the kids who were popular, but not as smart, have the most difficult time though.

10:08 AM  
Anonymous rcr said...

DC can make anyone feel like the captain of the football team. It is a city of tragic and perpetual nerditude.

Excuse me while I return to blogging.

11:12 AM  
Blogger The Senator said...

I had like 3 friends in high school...and one of them was my twin brother.

Big dork here. Still striving. The blog makes it worse, however.

11:16 AM  
Blogger DC Cookie said...

Funny - I'm trying to have a Grade 8 reunion this weekend. We contacted one kid who was just flat-out rude and refused to come. I guess he had bad memories from those years? Hello - this was 15 years ago. Get over yourself! We all got teased. We're grown ups now.

Kinda like those people who go on Jenny Jones and tell their high school bullies that they're so much better now and look what they missed out on. Please! The high school bully doesn't even remember you!!

11:34 AM  
Blogger Kathryn Is So Over said...

I flew under the radar... a smart kid who wasn't a complete, utter nerd, had a decent group of friends and occasional dates... but definitely didn't go to parties and sit at the cool kids' lunch table. Now everyone automatically assumes I was a cheerleader, class clown, Miss Outgoing. Not so much. Yay, DC.

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always say that I was on the second tier in the popularity hierarchy.

1:13 PM  
Anonymous cjt said...

My Montgomery countys high schools most likely to succeed winner,top county basketball ball scorer and class president was renown four years later for one of the areas biggest pot distribution busts at that time.

We roared in laughter and smug satisfaction.

1:35 PM  
Anonymous rcr said...

The star of our track team failed out of VA Tech, basically because all he wanted to do was smoke pot. Meanwhile, our high school acid dealer is now a successful mortgage broker in chicago.

3:09 PM  
Blogger Lil DC Diva said...

Popularity is silly. What makes someone popular? Having friends? Success? Knowing where the parties are? Hmph.

What I HATE the most is going back to local bars in my hometown and seeing people I graduated highschool with. I haven't spoken to them since graduation and all of a sudden we're friends again? It's that akward convo - sooo how's life...where did you go to school...blahblah...oh your engaged? More blah....

I loved highschool. It was a great experience for me. But, I wouldn't go back. Popularity no longer exists in my book - it means nothing compared to your happiness in life.

Good post, V!

6:52 PM  
Blogger Asian Mistress said...

I'm gonna go with Lil DC D and say - what decides popularity?

Also - how do you judge being "popular" now? You really can't...does it even matter? I think it's most important to have good times with good friends and not worry about your status in life - just go with it.

Of course, easier said than done - we're all striving to make it to the top.

8:02 PM  
Blogger Chai said...

interesting blog post. but it left me wondering, "Are we always trying to do things that will make us 'popular'?" I don't know if I am more successful (how do we measure that) than my highschool classmates? Isn't this the torture people go through once they receive their high school reunion invite?

However, I do find it interesting how some people still hold on to their high school persona while some of us have moved on.

7:40 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from