I was hanging out with a friend yesterday, one of the few from high school. Our conversation drifted to old high school friends at one point and it brought up an incident I recalled from my first year in university.
My department arranged a boat cruise for the incoming class, as well as a group of school buses to bring the students to the pier. On the way there I figured I would try to talk to the girl seated across the aisle from me. I made eye contact, said hi, and was promptly shut down as the girl looked away. On the trip back from the pier I see an acquaintance (friend is a very strong word) from high school getting the same girl’s number.
This acquaintance, let’s call him Noah, was the same type of guy that was very successfully with girls in high school. He was on the football team, had a benz and was one of the most popular people in high school. As I saw the girl grinning as she gave him her number, I realized that university wasn’t the game-changer the media and society made it out to be. There is this pervasive fiction that the guys who struggled socially in high school will find their niche, or that the roles might even be reversed: People who were once ostracized will rise to the top due to their personalities while the jocks and the popular kids will fall behind because they have little to offer. I feel like an idiot for ever believing this.
The same high-schoolers you endured are the same people who graduate and go to university with you. That is one of the reasons I did not want to go to a local university, since I knew I would see far too many people that I was already sick of. University offers a larger group of people to mingle with. There are basically larger cliques so there is more room for anyone to fit in, but do not believe that social dynamics will change just because you’re no longer in high school. Popularity still means a lot to some people. Girls still like guys who look a certain way and are fun to be around. Us nerds might not offer that, but the people we hated in high school do. There is the old fiction that the popular kids are lacking in terms of intelligence or career aspirations, but this dichotomy is also fiction that is mean to comfort us. Of course it is true sometimes, but not all the time. I would dare to say it might not even be true most of the time. While I can think of some idiots from high school that are destined to be failures in life, Noah is currently doing better than I am by any measure: money, career aspirations, friends, girls. I can’t comfort myself by saying that I’ll go farther than him in life, because I might not.