The world works in strange and often illogical ways. One of these ways is the concept of grouping. In our more primitive times, humans naturally looked at the world in groups; some grouped together to hunt, some grouped together to guard the dwelling. People were grouped based on their skill sets and capabilities. As society developed and matured, people began to be grouped in different, more complex ways. Generally, those of the same social class, or age, or even gender spent the most time together. Most teenagers can at least hazily recall the time when they would not even fraternize with the other gender or someone in another class. Nowadays, I often see my friends and peers sharing a common struggle created by this rhetoric. Working through the already wearisome troubles of high school, groupism and feeling like you need to find ‘your place’ or ‘your people’ can be stressful and generally turns out to be fruitless.
The feeling of inadequacy and frustration that comes with attaching to a certain group of people, or even individual, has been one that I have struggled with for a long time. I constantly wondered if there was something wrong with me because for some reason, I could never hold onto one friend group for an extended period of time. Desperatley, I hungered for a best friend that I could spend all my hours with on the phone or a group of people that never hurt me or bothered me in any way. Nonetheless, I always found my desires to be crushed because no one set of people could meet the expectations I held in my head of the perfect group.
Hearing from various people, I now understand that I am not alone; that many people, both teennagers and adults, share these same feelings. The most important thing to understand, is that there is nothing wrong with you, and at the same time, there is nothing wrong with your friends either. When we put people on pedestals, calling them our best friend, it is so easy to get disappointed. Time and time again, putting all our eggs in one basket and expecting that none of them will break. The truth is that the people who find themselves not fitting into a singular friend group one-hundred percent of the time, are not unadaptable or egocentric, but rather, they are just not satisfied with being a part–they recognize that they are a whole.
Ironically, the friends I have that expressed discontent with groupism in high school are the ones who I consider the most complex, deep, and complete people. They are the type who are not friends with others for namesake or to fit in; the ones who genuinely look to others to learn from and gain insight into situations and perspectives different from their own. They are not satisfied being a disposable part of someone else’s life, and instead hunt for anecdotes and lessons from their surroundings to make themselves full. They value a meaningul life brimming with knowledge and truly understand that everyone they meet can impart on them something they did not know before. It is also the same individuals who are not afraid to get outside of their comfort zone: to talk to new people, smile at strangers, sometimes even to dance in public and hope someone will come up and spark a conversation. The ‘wholes’ of society are unfortunately made to feel like they must be a part of something to be special or worthy. However, it is more important to be a small part of many people and let them be a small part of you, rather than allowing any one group or friend to dictate how you view yourself.
Your group of friends will come and go as the waves on an ocean shore. As sad as it may sound, my number one piece of advice is to not allow yourself to get so close to anyone, that you begin relying on them to determine your self worth. Create a large circle of friends and acquaintances that each bring a unique quality to your life. Naturally, there will be the people you become closer to or relate more to. Still, don’t allow yourself to shut out the rest of the world in favor a select few. Sit with those nice girls at lunch, invite that brainy boy to get coffee with you, never forget your childhood buddies, connect with people who go to different schools or live in different cities, states, or even countries. Essentially, expand your horizons because the possibilities of who you might meet and what they may bring to your life are truly limitless.
The entire idea of groupism is a ball and chain, weighing down almost every high schooler, in disguise. In theory, it is something beneficial — it means you have friends, people you can count on. Needleess to say that this is true, and having reliable people in your life is vital to forming lifelong relationships. Ultimatley though, these relationships are instinctive. So long as you open yourself to the world, the right people will walk into your life and those who were never meant to be there, will serve their purpose and move along.
“Try to have as diverse group of friends as possible and don’t get into the clique scenario” -Andrew Shue
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