The Popular Girls (a confession)

I was most decidedly not one of the popular girls in high school. I was nerdy before anyone knew what a nerd was, and before being a nerd became a kind of popular of its own. I was smart but socially so inept, I never gave even the nice popular kids a chance to be my friend.

My yearbook photo from Hawthorne High School

Cosmetics completely baffled me so I went without. It took my mom whispering in my ear, “Go put on some deodorant,” to save me from stinking (I showered, and washed my hair, once a week).  I even went to school one day with only one leg shaved. It was my first try at shaving, but I ran out of time and had to run for the bus before I could shave the other.

No surprise my favorite people at school were teachers. There was my English teacher, Mrs. Luckensmeyer, who loved my writing and Mrs. Mark who called me a genius. The geometry teacher who was thrilled by my A’s and the very patient algebra teacher who nudged me along when quadratic equations seemed impossible to understand.

Most of the popular girls just ignored me (although as I mentioned above, I didn’t give them much opportunity to get to know me). Some of them were plain mean, relishing in their hurtful words, spoken loud enough for everyone to hear. I sometimes wonder what happened to those girls. I hope they found a little compassion in their lives.

Me (on the left) and my sister, Linda, all decked out for a Creedence Clearwater Revival concert at the fabulous Forum in Inglewood, CA

Here’s where the confession comes in–because of a few mean girls, I have this judgement still lodged in my heart that casts a negative light on all popular girls. I don’t trust them. I’m suspicious of their success. It can carry over into my writing career when I resent authors who are bigger names than me.

Very unfair of me, I know. I try to tell that to the teenager still inside me, but her feelings are still hurt. Which is crazy, considering how many years ago all those slights happened. And there were plenty of wonderful times in high school, too. Why focus on the negative?

So mea culpa to all the popular girls (and boys) I might have judged. If you happen to stumble across this blog and remember me (I was Karen Stier then), let me know how you’re doing now, whether you were one of the popular kids or amongst the not-so-popular. In fact, I’d love to hear from anyone, both those in high school now and those for whom high school is a distant memory. Were you the popular kid? One of the not-so-popular? How was it then? How is it now? Let me know.

About karensandler

Lover of chocolate. A couple felines short of full-fledged Cat Lady. Author of the YA Tankborn Trilogy (TANKBORN, AWAKENING, and REBELLION), from Tu Books. Founding team member of We Need Diverse Books. Opinions expressed here are my own.
This entry was posted in Introduction, The Writing Life and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Popular Girls (a confession)

  1. Amy Jarecki says:

    Hi Karen – I saw your tweet suggesting we read your blog. Hmm. It seems to me the popular/geek thing has been around since schools were invented. My HS was no different with a big student body and lots of clicks. I was a very busy teenager and had no time for the clicks so I simply ignored them and hung out with whomever I pleased…but I could. I was a cheerleader, got good grades, and was in the totally nerdy choir, so I must have been a bit of a quandry. I did go to my 20 year reunion (quite some time ago now). I found it unbelievable that the clicks still existed and everyone sat in the same old groups as they did back in HS. I swore I would never go to another one. I simply don’t have time for that rubbish, and I have no time for anyone who believes they are “superior”.

    Love your pictures, and love Creedence!

  2. Greg Smith says:

    Hi Karen:
    Very brave of you to be so forthcoming about that time in your life. I heard once that the stars and celebs of high school often peaked early and from there on up, it was all down hill.
    I can attest to the fact that there was no gender bias in popularty status in high school. I was a shrimp, not getting my full height until the second year of college, so at 5 feet tall in my sophmore year, I wasn’t a candidate for the fast track to popularity that athletic prowess provided the ‘jock’ guys. Plus, there was a certain look to the mesomorph – he of square jaw, regular feature, and thick torso. Those of us outside those parameters were already in a one down position and not likely to end up dating the cheerleaders ( and, as fundamentally shallow teenagers we all wanted to date the rah rah girls). After all, if one could pull that off, one gained popularity by association.
    Back in those days the peer pressure was enought to turn coal into diamonds, but for teens it was mostly merely crushing. I can certainly relate to the social ineptitude you describe. I didn’t date in high school except for a set-up for the senior prom ( the daughter of my parents’ friends).
    Looking back, I wish I had known how to do high school better but I figure that the lack in that one area is the very thing that nudged me in a direction that opened up a series of doors into experiences that the average jock might never have. If forced me to challenge a belief system that did not support who I was and what ultimately became important to me. So I guess it was all perfect after all: every stumbling block a potential stepping stone, emparting its lessons and learning experiences. At the time it sure did suck not being in with the in crowd back then but now I’m thinking that whole scene was majorly overrated.

    • karensandler says:

      High school means so much when we’re in the middle of it, in the throes of all those emotions. Every slight seems to cut so deep. It’s only in hindsight that we realize it was such a brief interlude.

      Even so, I wouldn’t want to trivialize the pain some kids feel in high school. It’s real. But it is fleeting, if we can just survive those sometimes brutal, sometimes marvelous years.

  3. Judy Ashley says:

    Loved your comments. I feel so very, very fortunate to have gone to highschool overseas. Most kids were only there for a couple of years and we had to make friends fast. There were only 70 kids in my graduating class–some were cheerleaders/jocks, some were in the A.V. club. But the “nerds” and the “popular” kids all played well together.
    Our highschool reunions are only held every five years. Going to one is like catching up with friends who have been away for the summer. These kids (we’re 60-ish now) are still the best friends/people I’ve ever known. I think it must be a combinationg of the time and the place. We have a special connection that is amazing all these years later — nerds and cheerleaders alike.
    I’ve even made friends with upper and lower classmates (some came after I left!). I credit Facebook for helping us find each other. Put a sticker on my forhead and call me “Sucker.” I just signed up to be on the alumni board of directors.
    Thanks for the walk down memory lane.
    ~ Judy

  4. Robin Clark says:

    I admire that you lived your nerdiness. I bordered on it but didn’t allow myself to dive in fully and therefore didn’t go as far academically as I would have wished.

    I would have killed to see CCR back in the day!

I do appreciate your comments on what I've written. However, I will no longer approve anonymous comments. Thank you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s