I am thinking about popularity today.
How it is such a strange notion. How twisted, distorted and extremely broken the idea is. I wonder why we all beg for a seat at the cool table, when the reality is, there is no such table. It is a made-up, falsely by the few who desire to dominate a group of willing participants.
Popularity makes us feel good if not only for a moment.
What is popularity? It is a messed up skewed version of reality.
It makes no sense.
I was thirteen the first time I discerned the social pecking order.
High-school is the grandiose hell where popularity rules the corridors in which you walk from class to class. Life mimics high school? High school mimics life? I don’t know.
In my high school, there was a bench which sat in the front entrance. If you weren’t a part of the cool click you dare not sit on that bench. I walked by that bench clutching my books every day for the first year of high school. Wondering what those kids had that I didn’t. Longing to be a part of their picture perfect high school advertisement. Perfect preppy and beautiful. And then there was me. A tomboy. The girl who was known only because she played on the boy’s baseball team.
Not until the second year of high school did I get noticed by someone in the cool clique. For some reason, I was now worthy of the bench. But here’s the thing. I didn’t really care about that stupid bench. I didn’t want to have to conform to what they needed or wanted me to be. Not for a seat at the cool table. Not to change my voice.
However it didn’t matter, I was sucked into the vortex of popularity. The rash thinking I was better somehow because I was offered a seat on an old wooden church pew.
I was engulfed into believing this group of people, the popular, had an edge on every other person, and now I was one of them. Deemed a cool kid. Once I became a part of the hierarchy of high school, I realized it was a lark. These so-called popular kids were no different from the nerds, the rockers, the anyone. Each one of them as insecure as the rest, except they wore the badge of popularity on their chest. Falsely I might add, only in their minds were they the coolest kids in school. Out of hundreds of kids, thirty or so deemed themselves the best. The numbers simply don’t add up. Yet, those thirty had the power to change everything, because everyone else believed in their status.
This does mimic life, not only life, the world of writing and blogging.
Three years ago, I started a blog. This blog, the one you are reading. I had a plan, I wanted to write to empower women. In the beginning, I asked several friends for their help. Only a few believed in me enough to do so. Others had reasons I understood. Nonetheless, I was determined and did my thing. I began to write.
I have written my entire life, but blogging was different. I noted the popularity game almost instantly. It felt like I walked back into those corridors clutching my books as I walked from class to class.
In the beginning, my editing was atrocious. My grammar suspect, and my confidence nil. Like that thirteen-year-old girl in high school, suddenly I felt the need, and the want to be popular. I wanted a seat on the bench. I wanted to be noticed.
I had, and have a view, everyone’s voice is important. But the cool kids on the blogging bench don’t see it that way. I was suddenly thrown back into the reality I was looking to wear that damn badge again. I learned quickly there was a blogging hierarchy and to fit in you had to write like them.
But I don’t write like them.
I have never written similar to them. That isn’t to say I don’t believe I am a good writer because I know I am. (It has taken me a long time to say those words, still, they aren’t cocky or easy to say). I simply don’t write the same way as others. I am not to be fitted into a mold. No writer should ever try to have the voice of another. No human, in fact.
So as I began to wade through the world of blogging I realized popularity got you many things. Reach being the main thing. Cliques being another. A small group of popular bloggers can ultimately change how far you get shared. Not unlike high school, sitting on the bench got you noticed.
Last year I was given an award for my writing. It was the most humbling moment I’ve had yet in my writing career. The award was given to me for one of the most difficult things I have ever written, raw honest and true to my voice. It boosted my popularity, had people talking about me from cliques I had only ever wished to be a part of, yet not conform to. But did they genuinely like me? No, they wanted to know me because of my status. My popularity. Because I was sitting on the bench.
It changed nothing. I am no different today because of my so-called popularity. No one is. Popularity is a false sense of reality, what you see of it from the outside is much different from its inside truth.
I will forever want my words to be shared, my writing to be read, but not at the cost of losing my voice. And most definitely not to sit my ass down on a hard wooden bench I don’t believe has my back as a person.
To all the new bloggers, the ones struggling to be heard. My only piece of advice, stay true to you. Don’t worry about the popularity game. Write from your heart and edit from your mind. Keep your voice, you don’t have to write like them to be heard. If you believe in yourself and write true to you, you don’t need a seat on the bench.