How to Belong
I find high school a challenge. That’s because I don’t really fit in there. I don’t feel like I belong and that I have anything in common with the people at the school. They don’t like me either. They think they are better than me and that kids like me are embarrassments to their school.
The reason I think I feel that I don’t fit in is related to my sense of identity. My sense of identity relates to the importance that I have placed upon myself as an individual. Even though my perceptions of myself are discrete, they have not been formed in isolation from what is going on around me. We categorize ourselves according to other people and groups of people and we define ourselves both by the groups to which we belong and how those groups compare with other groups. In an online article Changing Minds describe how these group comparisons lead to social comparisons, “we also define ourselves by comparison and contrast with others. If we have more than others, we feel superior. If everyone has the same as us, we feel equal” (2003). Jason Tocci from the Annenberg School for Communication describes how, in the high school environment, money and wealth often act as a very strong social marker and creates a split between different groups of students, “High school social hierarchies have been likened to caste systems, with students’ status displayed and maintained largely through consumptive practices” (3). I believe this is true of my own high school.
My high school consists of two main groups of students. Those who are from middle to low class working families and those who are from middle to upper class families. The latter group is much more prevalent in my school and these students are known as the “rich kids”. This social stratification is very important to where you fit in and whom you hang out with at my school. The rich kids have expensive clothes and cars, date the best looking girls and seem to remain popular no matter how they behave. I know a guy who has cheated on his girlfriend several times but she still stays with him; he is the most popular guy in school and she wants to be associated with his group, even if he does make a fool of her sometimes.
Kids like me belong to the other group. I am not exactly poor but I do not have the same amount of money that these guys have. I do not belong with these guys because I do not have the latest designer clothes and a nice sports car. Because I don’t have these things the rich kids are not interested in me, they are only nice to people like them. I can’t hang out with them because I can’t afford to do the things they do, like going skiing or shopping in designer malls and because they have nothing in common with me- I am an outsider.
Tocci, J. “The Well Dressed Geek: Media Appropriation and Sub cultural Style”. Paper presented at MiT5, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, April 29, 2007. November 15 2008 <http://220.127.116.11/search?q=cache:I1hRwYv6p4wJ:web.mit.edu/comm-forum/mit5/papers/Tocci.pdf+%22rich+kids%22+%22high+school%22+%22sense+of+identity%22&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=8&client=safari>
“The Need for a Sense of Identity”. Changing Minds Syque, 2003. 15th November 2008 <“http://changingminds.org/explanations/needs/identity.htm>