I was not really popular at school. There were times when I wanted to be. Times when I felt like I was in the group. I think all kids have those moments of wanting to be popular but overall I felt like I mostly struggled.
Strangely enough I think I had more issues in primary school than high school as by high school I had learnt a thing or two about how to behave so people liked me. Having said that I hated high school. It was so much work and so stressful trying to be something that I thought I needed to be.
I was always a square peg in a round hole but maybe on some level we all feel like that.
Running the School Mum facebook page I often see mums struggle with worry around their children fitting in and having friends at school as well of them fitting in and having school mum friends.
Firstly I just want to say that “popularity” is overrated and hard work. Anytime I feel like I have become friendly with the people who are considered “popular” I quickly find myself retreating and have no interest. It all just seems like hard work to me. Everyone trying to keep up with each other and somehow my value as a person being about how good I look in the morning or how many extracurricular activities my kids do or what they have for lunch or what car we drive etc etc.
If you ask me it is all BS. I love the quiet mum who sits on the school bench all alone waiting for her kiddo with a warm smile as I walk past and say high.
Some of the best friendships I have are with mums or dads who might seemingly go unnoticed by the cool cats but I notice them and they seem really nice. I don’t feel like I am in a competition at all and we are who we are.
I learnt a thing or two reflecting back on my school years. I did struggle a bit in primary school with friends. To be honest I could not tell you the name of one kid for the first 4 years of school that was my friend. I wasn’t bullied and I am not really sure what that was about but it was what it was.
This is what saved this square peg …
I grew up going to a local church every week. My parents were very involved and we did lots of things. Youth groups, camps etc etc. For whatever reason I felt like I fit there. I had lots of friends there and they mattered so I didn’t care too much about the school thing. I also played quite a bit of sport as a kid and again I found connection with other kids there.
If your child is struggling to fit in at school don’t try and force something to happen as it might just end up worse. Don’t go for the cool cats, the popular kids as your focus for connection and friendship try and notice the kids who go unnoticed and encourage some play with them. You might have to do a little work getting to know who is who but there are some lovely kids out there.
If you can’t manage to find any good connections at school for your child them activities are the next best place to look. Even though it might feel like it won’t help because it is not school trust me it will help. Your child knowing that someone likes them and wants to be their friend whether that is at chess club, school, church or tennis matters. As a parent you are capable of facilitating different opportunities for your child which will help guide them to some nice kids. Just don’t get caught up in the popular thing as really there are no winners there. When you are popular that is very stressful to maintain and when you are not it is very stressful to try and be liked.
Life outcomes are not based on how popular you were at school. In fact I would say looking around at my own experiences that those unnoticed, not popular kids have ended up doing pretty well for themselves post school and the popular kids still seem to be trying to play the part which looks quite stressful to me. The two things that have got me to where I am today have had nothing to do with being popular. They have had everything to do with working hard and being nice to people.
I was the strange kid that asked lots of questions, talked too much, always had these crazy ideas, and was generally quite overwhelming to be around and life has worked out pretty good for me. At some point I decided that I liked me and I was made the way I was for a reason and the best thing I could do for myself was stop trying to be something I was not and just be me.
I have found friends who like the real me. There are lots of people out there so just keep looking you or your kid will find them eventually you just might have to give them a little bit of help.
Written By Sam Shazzam AKA School Mum