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Guest Column: Dr. Missy, Feelings Helper

Popularity is sooo overrated!

Yes, I was once a girl in middle school and I chased after the popularity train. I wanted to be part of the smart crowd, the athletic crowd, the musical crowd, the skinny crowd, the well-dressed crowd, and all the other kinds of crowds. Well guess what? Popularity is overrated.

Easy for me to say now that I’m an adult, I know. However, I suffered through peer pressure, self-rejection, and mucho bad hair days. My acne was embarrassing but I survived and you will too. I didn’t like the shape or size of my body. Both my hair and breasts were flat. I felt uncomfortable in my brain and my body. I envied the beauty of other girls. I didn’t feel pretty enough or smart enough or funny enough or popular enough. Nonetheless, I made it through middle school.


Yes, I’m aware that schools are places of cliques, labeling, gossip, rumors, backstabbing, discrimination, prejudice, rejection, betrayal, embarrassment, humiliation, peer pressure, unfairness and many other issues. However, schools are also places of learning opportunities, loyal friendships, trustworthy relationships, happy events, life-changing moments, challenges, achievements, developmental lessons, attitude adjustments and many other adjustments. School is a two-sided coin. Life is a two-sided coin and the planet is larger than your school building.


Ponder on the following questions. Do you allow the label of your clothes to determine your self-image and value as a person? Do you judge others by the price of their clothes, fancy houses, or costly cars? Do you treat the popular crowd differently from the other crowds? Do you stress over trying to be accepted in the popular crowd? Do you make nasty comments about students in the unpopular crowds? Do you waste time worrying about how to be popular? It’s okay to be liked and to want to be liked. Its okay to want some popularity but it’s not okay to disrespect, humiliate, or discriminate against others. It’s vital to treat yourself and others respectfully and fairly. Be careful not to sacrifice your self-respect and safety for instant popularity and fleeting admiration.


Learn to be comfortable in your own skin. Tap into your awesome inner and outer qualities! Identify your strengths, talents, and cool things about yourself. Be proud of your achievements and accomplishments. It builds self-confidence. Accept your personality style. It’s what makes you unique.


The middle school experience is full of both pleasurable and painful experiences. This is one of the places where we learn how to be in relationships with others. We get to practice the skills related to communication, cooperation, compromise, coping, and compassion. We get to learn, unlearn and relearn. The brain-body-soul develops and grows. In middle school we continue to gain opportunities to learn how to be in relationships. What you learn in middle school is applied to high school and to your life after graduation.


Growing up is full of experiences. Finding your way during the adolescent years is a journey. Forming a group of friends is about learning how to be in relationships with others outside of your family. Often, people who are alike and have things in common form groups. Perhaps you could make your circle of friends larger and make lots of friends with people who are different from you. However, remember that people are more alike than different.


Yes, I remind you again that popularity is overrated and there is life after middle school, however please learn to relax and enjoy your life. You are in the stages of physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, sexual, intellectual, and social development. I went through these stages as well. You are learning, practicing, and experimenting with being in a relationship with yourself and with others. Talk to some trustworthy adults about your thoughts, feelings, and concerns about the popularity train or seek counseling.


Dr. Missy, Ph.D., is a feelings helper, child therapist, consultant, educator, and self-syndicated columnist. She provides therapeutic services at Affirmations, Columbus, Ohio. Contact her at




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