Popularity Contest

The 20s are all about being popular. Yup, you read that right. It may or may not be the shallowest, most superficial, and completely basic thing I've ever started out with, but bear with me. Not just in the classical sense of the word - that is well-liked or renowned, but finding the popularity within yourself. Creating your own social scene. Becoming the center of the craze sweeping your campus. Starring in the witty banter filled rom-com known as your life. Life may just be a popularity contest.

College is the craziest place. Everyone's perceptions we all are as so skewed so let me clear the air (*Drake voice - that felt good). You do not, you cannot, nor will you ever know my story. You may know bits and pieces, but on the grand scheme of things you know nothing about most people. We operate on this "understanding" (that is minimal facts and outlandish assumptions) of who people are and when we discover people are different than how we've fashioned them to be in our minds, the blow can be deafening. There's too much to know about a person. Everything we've been through. All the things that have happened to us, what we've done. Think about it, there's twenty years of my life that only I know. I repeat for emphasis the statement, "you know my name, not my story." Those are two drastically different thing. My name and all the reputational facts that come with it, are what I've constructed it to be for the public eye. It's the perfectly packaged generically quirky na├»vely prepped out version on display for mass consumption. It's the least of me there is. When you leave the comfort for your family, friends, and step into the world where no one knows you they get the condense and filtered variation of your life. It's not "socially acceptable" to be the full you at all times. You're obligated to say you're doing fine, that you're okay, or that you're doing well when you're actually not. To have problems, or to be bothered, angry, annoyed, or distraught is to be weak, wrong, or emotional. But why can't we be real. Why can't we say how we actually feel? Why must we all suffer in silence? What if we were to talk about the hard stuff. The not so pretty things, our hardships, and struggles. What if we took the time to listen, to let ourselves feel (guys this is especially for you), and connect. What would happen if we stopped living up to impossible and stereotypical standards who we're supposed to be and started being ourselves. The not-so popular original not the cheapened, perfectly content knock-off version. Wouldn't we understand people or at least comprehend more where they're coming from. What harm could it do? Win the popularity contest within yourself and push the real you out into the spotlight.

Current favorite vine: "Famous Girl"

This past week has been intense if I'm to be frank. Every single day I felt pushed to the brink of sanity. I can handle being crazy busy, doing class, homework, meetings, and events every single night of the week. The thing that gets to you is the pretending. I'm supposed to be happy at all times. But I'm breaking the norm, if I'm not happy - let me show it. I cannot be easily appeased or dismissed. Let me fester in what I'm feeling and then properly move on. People silently suffer every single day because they're incapable of speaking their personal truths of their lives. Find the courage within yourself, but encourage others to do the same by creating the space for those conversations to happen. This week I've balanced it all and still been "popular." My college life is just out there. It's nowhere near the typical college experience. I'm too involved. I know too much. I know too many people. You should see me interact with people from my various social circles and how flustered I get because everyone knows me within different contexts. Again it's all bits and pieces, you see one side of me and can remain completely oblivious to what else goes on in my life. Proof of that was this past Wednesday, my RHA had our annual "Wings Fest" event (like just over 600 people all coming for free chicken wings) and my fraternity brothers were helping out. They had never really seen me anxious or nervous, and when I had to talk to the whole crowd at once, and then individually, as well as make sure everyone knew their jobs and that everything was running smoothly I was not having any of it. Interjections of you should do this, this is better, I think this, and I want that. In that situation I feel so stressed out, and everyone's tell me to chill out - but you don't understand me at all. If you really knew me you would know  (MTV bring back that show) that things, for me, need planning, purpose and directions to be followed. I don't wing (no pun intended) things. The week went on and it was of the same thing, other people's opinions about my life (notice whose life it is; mine not yours) as I went about my life. From the outside looking in, my life here at college would be one of a campus celebrity, while in some way that may be true, it's more false. I'm weird. I'm constantly uncomfortable. I'm terrified. I'm worried. I'm pretending. I'm pretending. I'm pretending. Let me (as if this is an actual conversation) tell you something about self-esteem, it's called self-esteem. You hold yourself up. You determine how you feel about yourself. You choose how you see you. That's all true and fine, but outside criticism has an affect on us whether we like it or not. You don't choose how you feel. I'm so conscious nowadays of when I am actually happy, because it's such a rarity, but also because of how easily I'm content. Just like when I was done talking to people and doing the wobble with my fraternity brothers, when I hung out with my buddy Taylor and all his peeps, when I stopped by my old building to catch up with my friends Nic and Kelly. It's the little things. This popularity contest is over.

The 20s are all about accepting yourself. Please reread that sentence and let that sink in. What does it mean to fit in? What does it mean to stand out? Why do those things matter? The most important question we should be asking, what does it mean to be me [state your name]. The facts of everyone's lives are different. We make some popular choices and some less than popular decisions. Not everybody will like us and that's perfectly fine. All that matters is that you like yourself. In the popularity contest that is your life, you should always be the winner.

My blog post question for the day is ... would you consider yourself popular? I may not, but other people might. I guess you could say that, but who actually would admit to being popular.


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