Question: when the word “popular” comes to mind, do you feel warm fuzzy vibes or some variation of Mean Girls hell from the hallways of high school? If your answer is the latter, don’t feel bad – movies and pop culture condition us to think that way.
As it turns out, there’s a vast difference between status and likeability. More people confuse status with popularity. They chase it, worry about it and often suffer because of it.
It’s essentially to living to know that we’re liked, trusted and a desirable person to spend time with. Likeability is beneficial in our lives in both childhood and adulthood. But it only takes a few people to like us in order to boost our confidence. If you have a couple solid vinas to hang with and there is a mutual like/adoration involved, you’re set!
Status reflects visibility, influence, and power. But it’s more likely to lead to despair and friendship problems. Mitch Prinstein, director of clinical psychology at the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill, says, “It’s a way of dominating others, of trying to feel somehow superior or more influential or visible.”
Consider status-rich figures like Regina George of Mean Girls, Blair Waldorf of Gossip Girl and Hilly Holbrook of The Help. They all had beauty, friends (or so it seemed), and material wealth but all have been portrayed as being somehow unhappy with their lives. All of their friends were just surface level friendships and mostly toxic anyways, not true vinas. Isn’t it better to have a few really deep connections, rather than a bunch of people thinking you’re “cool.”
The goal of attaining status is to seem better than others rather to join others and enjoy life as part of a group. Pursuing status is an easy trap to fall into because there never seems to be enough of it. Once you hit 100,000 Instagram followers you’re bound to want 200,000. If you’re elected class president, you’ll quickly set your sights on the crown at prom. It’s perpetually unfulfilling.
An increasingly common, modern trap is the way we use social media these days. If you look to social media as a means of comparing yourself to others, based on likes and follows, your risk for depression increases.
Even in adulthood, many people wish they had been popular in high school largely because they have a biased idea of what that would have been like. They don’t see the potential for loneliness and the inability to be themselves that comes with status seeking.
What’s important to focus on is the fact that we all have the opportunity moving forward to become likable, and therefore, happier.
30% of people who had “status” in high school were also well-liked. What do you think of that statistic? Does it surprise you, or is it similar to what you expected? Comment below. And download the Hey! VINA app to make some deep connection with gals like you.
(Feature image via flickr)