08.01.12 Truth & Wisdom
BY Anna Cox
Within my group of friends in fifth grade, the absolute worst thing you could be called was a poser. A poser was a person that copied the actions, interests or any other characteristic of another person. We did not like posers. The people in my 11-year-old friend-group were unique, self-assured kids who walked around the playground at recess like we were the hottest bad asses around.
We played soccer and climbed things during recess. We were all intertwined in this knotted love affair—the co-ed friend group coupled off and there was always drama but hardly any kissing. We allowed anyone to play soccer with us and the only way you could be shunned was to be a poser. It was a no-toleration policy. Everyone just wanted everyone else to be themselves. It was a great environment to be in as an awkward prepubescent individual.
Unfortunately, this utopic society could not last forever. The group was disbanded when we all went to different middle schools. I was forced to make new friends and I was positive that they held the same values as I did, but I was in for a rude awakening. One day before gym class, we were all getting changed in the locker room and gossiping about others. One girl mentioned that one of her friends just bought a shirt that she had, and I quickly scoffed, saying, “Ugh, she is such a poser!” I was then met with a roomful of blank stares. No one knew what a poser was, and even worse, no one really cared.
In middle school, everyone was a poser. All the self-assured fifth graders were suddenly thrown into the deep end of peer pressure and cliques, and it was sink or swim. You either had to fit a certain mold to belong to a certain clique, or you were shunned to the weirdo table in the back of the cafeteria.
I was as guilty of this as any other middle school poser out there. I remember calling one of my friends before a middle school dance to ask her what she was going to wear. I tried to recreate that outfit with my own wardrobe. Mine didn’t look as good, obviously, because it was a poser move. Posers never win in the end. I still feel gross about doing that, too, even ten years later.
Everyone wore the same three brands of clothing. All the girls had the same type of make-up in the same make-up pouch. The girls’ locker room reeked of the perfume “Glow” by J. Lo because some cool girl decided that it smelled good. Everyone had the same favorite movie, and half of those people probably never even saw it. Everyone was the same. Everyone was a poser.
Slowly but surely, I rediscovered my own voice. I liked the music that I said I liked. I watched the shows I said I watched. I wore things that were not name brand and I was okay with it. I let my hair be curly instead of trying to fight it and get the straight luscious locks that all the most popular girls had. I let my quirks be seen. I started hanging out with people I enjoyed instead of wedging myself into the “cool crowd.”
My high school and college years were spent in this transition back to me. It took one summer to become a poser, and it took eight years of deliberate action for me to reacquaint myself with me. There are so many outside forces that try to fit us into a mold. And while I have found it easier to be myself after the peer pressures of middle and high school, adulthood is not immune to the pressures of fitting in.
Work cultures are notorious for having an “in” crowd and an “out” crowd. Certain religious, educational and recreational organizations can be clique-ish. Popular culture and the media can pervade into people’s lives. I learned that it is imperative for me to be aware of these pressure centers and not lose sight of me. I no longer shun people who are posers, nor do I call them out by name, but rather, I empathize with those who have not yet found value in being true to themselves.
Respecting and loving yourself for who you are is a lifelong journey that takes work, but remember how miserable middle school was? It was because we were all trying so hard to fit in that we forgot to be ourselves and love ourselves. And because of all those hormones. Spend some time thinking about what it is that makes you uniquely you, and why you love those things about yourself. Having a positive perception of yourself can do amazing things for your soul. Love your uniqueness, embrace your flaws and don’t be a poser. No one can be you quite like you can.
What are some of your favorite things about yourself? How do you remember to always be yourself?
Featured image by Brian Pearson on Flickr