Wednesday, October 21, 2009

GLEE drops the ball on HS popularity advice

GLEE is fast becoming a new favorite show of mine. It started off fairly uneven, but the more they embrace crazy, the better it gets. And I'm definitely a fan of OCD cutie Emma, the high school guidance counselor, played by Jayma Mays.

In tonight's episode the school quarterback and head cheerleader find their popularity compromised and go to Emma for advice on how to be cool. She tells them that they should just be themselves and anybody who doesn't appreciate them for who they are isn't worth their time.

All well and good, but completely insufficient advice for a fragile teenage psyche. I mean c'mon, being told the people you want to like you aren't worth your time helps to allieviate the desire to be liked BY them about as much as telling someone who's just gotten dumped that time will heal the wound. It's a nice platitude, but is cold comfort at a time in life when every moment feels as though it contains the entire and everlasting truth of the universe in it.

So, for the sake of my sons one day, and for anyone who has a child struggling with popularity issues, here's the truth of the matter as I see it -

The people who are mean to you in high school are, for the most part, not bad people. But many of them are small, scared animals who lack vision beyond the hallways they currently walk. Which won't help right now, because there is little pain in life more difficult to manage than the insecurity you feel right now, the thought that some how you are not good enough. The good news is that this will fuel you to dream big, it will force you to explore deeply who you really are, it will teach you how to survive the scorn of the uninformed, and how to make the right decision instead of the popular one.

Unfortunately you're going to have to find a way to survive the next few years on grit and stubborn determination. Things WILL get better, though it's unlikely to feel that way in the near future. But when you come out the other side, you're going to be well on your way to being a confident, imaginative individual who lives the rest of your life unintimidated by fear, comfortable with failure, and driven by the pursuit of sustainable happiness rather than the fickle judgements of others. And while you will eventually morph into someone who doesn't take pleasure in the misfortune of others, for now take heart in the fact that those who are currently cruel to you will most likely jail themselves in a life of compromise, undreamt or unpursued possibilities, and a crippling need to protect a status they lost at 18.

I know how much it hurts now, but please believe me that I can see your future, and you will be more than you dream possible.

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