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Mountain Echo

Online newspaper of Altoona Area High School in Altoona, Pennsylvania
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The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

Letters from my room: fitting into a standard makes you unlikable

Makenzie Closson

Popularity. The ruler of all social settings. One fatal move and you’re at risk of judging stares, condensing whispers and a new group chat— excluding you. 

Going through high school invites an endless battle of minimizing yourself to fit into any standard necessary to simply “get through it.” Adaptive behavior around family, friends, close friends, mutual friends, opposite genders and authoritative figures is all a part of discovering different identities within yourself. This typically starts younger, often subsiding as you grow into your body, mind and social settings. However, the voices in your head will continue to convince you that people just don’t like you. A dangerous habit to form, but an even more rewarding habit to break.

One thing I’ve learned whilst navigating the treachery of teenage years is that one embarrassing mistake will not be the “be-all and end-all” of your social career. One too many embarrassing moments can actually create a breakthrough realization of wanting others to like you. This fuels a sort of “anger” within you. You could find yourself becoming increasingly angry at a situation for never going the way you want it to go. Why, after everything I’ve done, will they still not like me?!”

Feed into this anger. This is a great start to becoming more self-aware with what you truly want. Eventually, you’ll grow tired of trying to mold yourself into something someone else wants, and you’ll forget all about wanting them to like you. This could lead to a “what am I doing?” thought process. The rest can easily fall into place from there.

But, growing up is also taking into account that some people will never like you. And, don’t be hypocritical, either, because I dislike so many people and should not expect everyone to like me back. It’s healthy, in my own opinion, to have a balance of people you genuinely like and moderately tolerate. This can practice resilience in social settings, something someone probably does with you.

This is why the whole ordeal feels laughable. Who am I to say that everyone has to enjoy my presence to the fullest extent? And who are you to agree with me? It is truly a battle that changes immensely with every person, place or day, but trying too hard to become likable might be worse than being lonely for a while. 

There’s this weird psychology that I’ve noticed throughout the years that entails: 

  1. Group of popular people 
  2. Outsider goes to popular people trying to get in their group subtly 
  3. Popular people always know it’s not subtle 
  4. Egos become inflated 
  5. Newcomer is fresh meat

Basically, you have to be the “chosen one” in order to be appreciated (as much as they want to) within a group of popular people. But, popular people are just an example. In a realistic sense, status becomes less important when school becomes harder. 

My point, though, is there. When you almost try too hard to fit into a standard you instantly become unlikable, in the sense that everyone around you knows exactly what you’re doing. There have been many instances where I’d encounter another person who I thought was extremely cool and knew I wanted to become friends with them. I realized I was sneakily changing things about myself in order to pique their attention. It’s an unreliable method, because how would I know how to act with them if they did decide to pursue a friendship with me. The person I created to get them wasn’t even real. 

This is major in a lot of romantic relationships too. Most commonly, when you’re crying over someone intimate to you—there’s never anything wrong with the essence of you as a person. I find that it’s so easy to attack oneself when posed with a situation like that. It’s so easy to say: “I’m going to just change everything about me, so I’ll be liked again.” You absolutely cannot give yourself that type of burden. Truthfully, every human is a puzzle piece waiting to fit with someone else, or a group of people. And even then, the pieces might fit together, but they’re shaven and worn down. Nothing with anyone will ever be perfect. 

But, it is very true that sometimes two people just aren’t ever going to be compatible. Sometimes it feels one sided, but time can make you realize it wasn’t. The feeling of “forever” was never there if someone had to walk away first. Nobody can beat themselves up for something uncontrollable. 

It’s a gruesome game to play, most times, trying to stay completely authentic all the time. It’s gruesome and sometimes unattainable. The importance of it all is to train yourself to realize when you’re starting to become someone you don’t recognize.

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About the Contributor
Makenzie Closson
Makenzie Closson, Associate Editor
My name is Makenzie Closson. I am a second year member of the Mountain Echo and Horseshoe yearbook staffs. Last year, I became a PSPA finalist and even won first in the state for yearbook copy writing. Besides just being involved in the publications, I'm a competitive dancer. I also enjoy playing my guitar, creating art and film making. After high school, I plan to attend a film school to become a director.

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