One of the hardest things for kids, no matter what generation they are from, is dealing with how to be popular. Little do most know, but the high school personalities in these formative years often heavily impact how they react when thrown out into the real world.
We can say right now that the popularity you have or had in any school beneath college does not amount to squat. Even in college, it isn’t the popularity that matters—the connections and bonds you make are what matter. It is safe to say that the vast majority of people you encounter will only rarely enter your mind once you graduate high school, but you might find these high school personalities in your workplace, too.
High School Personalities: The Intimidator
Think of the bully in high school who thought he or she was the best thing to happen to the world. Instead of “May I,” or “Please,” everything was “…or I’ll kick your ass”—or, more often, “…or me and my friends will kick your ass.”
Flash forward five years after high school, and take solace in the fact that this person is either in jail, has no friends, or at the very least, is chronically unemployed.
The problem with using intimidation tactics to get what you want or to become popular is that people get sick of that stuff really quickly. Once the friends that they had in school realize that their “friend” is an asshole and no one cares who they are after they graduate (except the police, and for the wrong reasons), suddenly that person just looks like a douchebag. It starts off slowly, and then, one by one, those friends start to become unavailable.
Eventually, not understanding why this is happening, the intimidator will complain to his or her last friend that it is all a big conspiracy. Most of the time, real friends clue you in and call you out way before this ever becomes a problem, but since this tactic keeps a person from establishing any sort of meaningful or lasting bond with people, eventually that friend also leaves.
This isn’t limited to their personal lives, either. When you can’t think beyond, “Give me what I want or I’ll beat you and take it,” you have no real conversation skills. Unfortunately, when you become an adult, people expect you to be able to figure shit out. They expect you to be where you say you’re going to be, do what you say you will do, and be a levelheaded individual who has more impulse control than the Hulk.
Because of that, these people are rarely employable in any meaningful position, or for very long. They don’t do well in college because their threats usually introduce them to the wonderful world of the criminal justice system, at which point, most of their opportunities fly out the window. It just so happens, there tends to be a lot of these high school personalities, and it isn’t just the inmates.
There is some hope, though. In some cases, these people either realize what assholes they were or someone clues them in through discussions or consequences. They take it to heart and fundamentally change the way they think, feel, and interact with the world, make amends, and live lives that no longer create wreckage or chaos for those around them.
But most stay assholes.
High School Personalities: The Rebel
This one is a bit of a tossup. That guy that wears the jean jacket covered in punk rock patches and spikes with a three-foot-tall mohawk will go one of two ways: nowhere, or straight to the top.
The reason he may go nowhere is that he literally becomes indoctrinated by his own bullshit. He has a specific way in his mind how the system works, and those who don’t share his views are nothing but zombies. He wastes his time sitting out in front of Starbucks smoking cigarettes and having pointless conversations about philosophy that no one gives a shit about until the security guards ask him to move off the property. He comes back five minutes later, and resumes the routine.
He doesn’t go anywhere because he thinks he has it all figured out. The problem is that, eventually, everyone becomes “a slave to the system, man.” It’s just a matter of how. Eventually, you get a boss, and eventually, you have to do what he says, or, eventually, you get fired. Your boss doesn’t give a shit about your agenda, beliefs, or how he is oppressing children in Indonesia working in sweatshops. He wants you to do your job.
That’s where he may go straight to the top, too, though. The qualities that make him an intolerable douche and pain in the ass also make him a great entrepreneur. He is dead-set on doing things his way, goes to great lengths to prove his point, and the people he hangs around are just like him. When someone is part of a small group of rebels, fighting against an oppressive and cruel world, camaraderie and close bonds come much more easily to those with whom they have similar perceptions.
High School Personalities: The Social Chameleon
The social chameleon is the person who seemed to be friends with everyone, but wasn’t part of a specific group. No one could tell if he had more in common with the jocks, the stoners, the Goth/Emo/Scene kids (or whatever the hell the equivalent is these days), the nerds, or whomever.
Of these three groups, and really, of any group; what makes this guy or girl so popular is the fact that he or she is just so adaptable.
In the real world, there are times when you’d rather sandpaper yourself to death than work alongside a certain co-worker. Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the fact that you still have to work with them. The difference between the Intimidator and the Social Chameleon is the Social Chameleon can adjust and change to any social setting. The Intimidator cannot. This person is popular because he or she can be civil, even when disagreeing with someone, or even outright and genuinely agree with what the person is saying, taking the points they like, agreeing, and leaving the parts they don’t like off to the side. People like the Social Chameleon because he or she, as the name implies, is able to blend in to any social or professional setting.
The downside is that these people can be exceptionally manipulative. In some cases, it doesn’t even become apparent until years later down the line. However, if they lack the sociopathic tendencies, they can be the most advantageous people to know, since they often have contacts in a wide variety of fields. In other words, if you go to jail, the social chameleon is the guy you want to call.
There will be more high school personalities in the future, but what group or groups or high school personalities did you fall into? Did it change? How did it turn out? Let us know!