I used to obsess over being popular. I wanted everyone to like me. To recognize my skills, my talents. To tell me I had WORTH.
That I was worthy of being a friend. Worthy of having a boyfriend. Worthy of have the lead part in a play. Worthy of scoring the solo in our showchoir.
Worthy of the attention so many girls that age desire and crave. I cried when my name wasn’t even considered for the Homecoming Ballot. That’s how much I desired it.
I cried when I didn’t make the cheerleading team for the second year in a row, but my younger sister did. I had worked so hard. I really believed that if I could just make the team, then people would notice how good I was. How worthy I was of having a friend. Then I could be popular and be well liked.
Instead of just enjoying what I was good at (acting and singing), I tried to do everything. Anything that would help me raise my status just a little higher in that minefield we call high school.
I’m in my thirties now. Thirty two to be exact. I have to say, since turning 30, I love who I am now. I probably don’t have the most Facebook friends, my fitness page isn’t the most hip place on the social media circuit. My Instagram doesn’t have a gazillion followers. But I am okay with not being popular. I am okay with it.
Because I see the folks that I tried to be like back then. I clamored for their attention and approval and now?
They are not the kinds of people that I would even desire their approval. Or need it.
I look at my 7, almost 8, year old daughter and I see how loving she is, how smart she is, how capable she is, and how much she needs Jesus and I am perfectly fine with telling her that popular is overrated. That not everyone needs to be your friend.
In high school, being popular meant people noticed you. You fit into whatever box they created and there was no room for you to go to be, think, or act any other way. There was no creativity in being popular. You either fit in or you didn’t.
I was an actress. A singer. My passion in the arts. I also loved community service. Helping people. I also enjoyed writing and I have tons of journals brimmed to the edges with my ideas, hopes and dreams. If I were to talk to my 17 year old self, I would ask her “why did you care so much about what so and so thought of you?”
Because I see some of those people now. And I feel sad for them. They still try to live in their perfect little popular, status quo bubbles.
My Grandma has always considered me to be a free spirit. I used to think that was a shameful thing to be. But I have come to embrace it now. I am learning how to be a free spirit, yet still humbly follow my Jesus wherever He goes. He has really been the only one to nail this heart down and provide me with the love I craved, the attention I needed and the feeling of worth I wanted. After all, He did lay down His very life for my own. If that doesn’t say that I am worth it, then nothing ever will.
I honestly don’t know where you are at. Maybe you are a young girl navigating through the uncertain waters of high school. It is both exciting and daunting. But can I tell you something? Don’t worry about being popular. I know, I know. It is easier said than done. But know that you were created for something. You may be a girl who is a whiz at math. You can be an incredible athlete. A singer with the opportunity to earn a scholarship to a performing arts college in New York City. Whatever it is, pursue your dream. Don’t let the idea of being cool, and well-liked keep you from pursuing a God given dream. It is overrated. Those who try to create the status quo for others are often insecure themselves. They don’t have dreams. Maybe they don’t feel they have anything unique to contribute so they try to keep those who hang around then in line. I don’t know.
But pursue you. And with excellence. And my heart prays that if you are reading this and you don’t know Jesus, pursue Him. He will provide you will all the love and acceptance you could possibly ever want. Forget popular. Be weird. Pursue Jesus.