Story of my Life

While I was reading this interesting article about how you never truly leave high school (which presents myriad topics of discussion, should you read it all), I found this gem:

"It’s also abundantly, poignantly clear that during puberty, kids have absolutely no clue how to assess character or read the behavior of others. In 2005, the sociologist Koji Ueno looked at one of the largest samples of adolescents in the United States, and found that only 37 percent of their friendships were reciprocal—meaning that when respondents were asked to name their closest friends, the results were mutual only 37 percent of the time. One could argue that this heartbreaking statistic is just further proof that high school is a time of unrequited longings. But these statistics also suggest that teenagers cannot tell when they are being rejected (Hey, guys, wait for me!) or even accepted (I thought you hated me). So much of what they think they know about others’ opinions of them is plain wrong."

Story. of. my. life.

I say that because, as I've blogged before, I either had no 'best' friends in high school or the ones I considered my best friends apparently didn't return the favor.  Or, they quickly moved on in the following years.  It's all good.  I just still live here in my hometown, and so I still hear/see/run into said friends, and I still wonder which scenario it is.

If you do read the article, come back and talk to me about it, bitte!  I'd love hear some opinions.


Bonnie said...

I read it awhile ago! That is the very line that stuck out to me. It's SO SAD! And yet it means that so much of the paranoid insecurity of teens is actually valid. Which is kind of depressing.

I don't like the idea that because I was kind of antisocial in high school I'll be antisocial for the rest of my life, but I can see that happening. I'm consoling myself by saying that I don't think earning more money is actually a measure of happiness or having a meaningful life.

I'd love to discuss more. I kept that article up on my monitor for days reading it a bit at a time and was really fascinated.

Jean said...

Yeah, the correlation between high school popularity and life earnings does NOT work in the Union High School model. Because, ironically, the ones who dropped out of school to work in the oilfield could very well be the top earners out of the class. I wondered how much the rest of the article could be applied to the rural high school experience.

Also, the part about shame vs. guilt? What did you think about that? I was honestly trying to think of a situation that fit the word "shame" and I couldn't come up with a good one. I never saw any locker-shoving or typical hierarchical aggression in my school days. Is shame more debilitating and guilt more enabling? I don't know. Such a fascinating article.

Jamie said...

Very interesting article! I think it says a lot about our individual reactions to being in " a large box of strangers"- and I can definitely see how those reactions kind of frame our future relationships with coworkers/dorm-mates/colleagues. For myself those big times have been starting college and then again with grad school. I'm definitely expecting a couple more of those in the near future, too. But I think it is getting better, at least now I recognize in myself- "hey, I'm being kind of quiet/shy/insecure for no good reason other than the situation" and I recognize that everyone else is in the same mode. I do wonder if we ever grow out of this- maybe not if it is seen in nursing homes too!

On the topic of friends..I always find myself surprised that it takes time to make good friends- years, in fact. After the fact, I hardly remembered that it was a couple of years into college before I had a really solid group of friends and that I had had to give those friendships that time to develop. I think high school friendships are a bit different because they start so early that you hardly remember that it took time, and it's almost a matter of luck given the poor judge of character that teens are. Kind of shocking that so few mutually identified each other as friends!

Danielle said...

I finally got around to reading this article during work tonight. It is very fascinting, especially for a psychologically driven mind like mine. I've read books that discuss how a person's looks weigh heavily on their life's success. It's interesting that the "popular" people are usually regarded by their peers as the best looking and I've frequently wondered about how that popularity translates into life after school like this article discusses. Do people go farther and succeed greater because of the self esteem and social capabilities they built during adolescence? Does low self esteem and lack of social capability really doom a person to mediocrity? Obviously there is a corelation with innate personality at the root of it all, so does that mean it was, in a sense, predestined? Am I even making sense? Interesting.

I thought the part about how our adolescent experiences were more intense because of our physiological development. I think about who I was then compared to who I am now and I have toned down quite a (large) bit! Sometimes it's depressing to think how boring I am now, but I guess that all comes down to literal physiological maturity.

You mentioned the shame thing. I don't know whether this answers anything, but that part of the article made me think about a few things. I don't have any particular experience to feel ashamed of, but I do feel shame when I think about the people I could have reached out to. Subbing for the high school now, walking through the commons and the halls and seeing all the "loners" eating lunch alone or walking alone with their heads down, I can't help but wonder how many lives I could have helped by simply reaching out. I was caught up in the wonderful life I was living and didn't take the time I should have taken to make another life a little more wonderful.

Jean said...

Awesome comments! Jamie, I love the "box of strangers" concept, and I agree that it takes a long time to build good friendships. I'm pretty reserved/shy in new situations, despite moving 14 times in my life, and I should really just grow out of it already. :)

Dani, I had the same reaction going back to the high school - "why did I not reach out??" Why was I so worried about finding my niche instead of just being a friend to everybody? If I could go back, surely I would do things differently.
I guess that's the sign of psychological maturity right there.

Linnea said...

I finally had a chance to sit and read this article. I have too many thoughts about it - way too much for a comment. I'm going to marinate on it more and then perhaps I'll be able to pare it down into a comment to leave for you. Or do my own blog post. ;)