I Need To Be Popular

I’m lucky to live in a spacious house with fairly cheap rent, good for throwing parties. In fact, my flatmates and I have thrown a number of them. It’s fun. Since we’re all co-hosting these gathering, it’s pretty stress free. There’s never that awkward moment where early on, the only people at the party is the host and one other guest.

I did throw a party by myself one time. That was difficult. It felt like I was constantly trying to make everyone happy and keep the atmosphere alive. I remember collapsing into bed after everyone left, completely exhausted and annoyed. What’s the point of having a party if it drains me?

We’re always looking for an opportunity to throw parties. Some odd holiday, or a friend’s birthday, doesn’t matter. Recently, I had a unique party idea. Not gonna say what it is, because it hasn’t happened yet. I’m going to reveal all sorts of insecurities, so maybe after I publish this post, it won’t happen at all.

While hanging out with a friend, I told him my idea. Let’s call him Pete.

PETE
Dude, cool idea. We should have it at my house!

Pete lists several reasons why his house would be ideal. Well okay, I thought. Doesn’t really matter where the party is, right?

I mention the idea to some other people. They really like it. Okay, this is happening!

A few days later, Pete has an announcement.

PETE
Hey everyone, we’re having a get-together at my house. If you don’t come, you can’t come to the *INSERT COOL PARTY IDEA HERE*!

He said it in a joking manner to everyone at first. Then he reiterated it to my face. I paused. Wasn’t this my idea to begin with? So if I don’t go to your upcoming party, which I can’t because of work, I won’t be able to attend the *INSERT COOL PARTY IDEA HERE*, the idea I told you about?

Pete continued to talk about the party over social media. Several comment threads insinuated that he was planning this party with other people. Without me.

Well. This feels horrible.

So I vented to my flat mate. Does Pete realize he’s stealing my idea? Why am I even getting so upset over this?

FLAT MATE
Because it directly taps into your desire to be popular and well-liked. Everyone deals with it, but it can hit homeschoolers more.

Oh.

This isn’t about parties anymore. It’s about something broken inside my soul.

Ever since I was little, I needed to defend being homeschooled. All my friends would think it weird that I didn’t attend public school. Ha. Jokes on them, because homeschooling is so much better! I have my teacher’s full attention and can go at my own pace, so I can learn faster and become smarter and more successful!

That wasn’t exactly true. But it’s how I reassured myself that nothing was wrong with me. I was still someone worth liking.

As I grew older, I noticed a trend in my social habits. Whenever I entered a new group of people, whether that be a youth group or office job, I would play “the cool guy who didn’t talk to anyone except the people he needed to talk to.” I would wait for people to talk to me before I talked to them.

I never thought about why I did this. Maybe I wanted to make a good first impression, so I would become introverted until I found the perfect moment to reveal my cool, extroverted “true” self.

PEOPLE I’M TRYING TO IMPRESS
Wow, that introverted guy seemed so introverted at first, but he’s actually cool, talkative, and engaging! Let’s be his friend!

Yeah, that never happens. You’d think eventually I’d realize this “strategy” wasn’t working, but now it’s my default. Whenever I’m with a bunch of strangers, I don’t engage right away. I shy away. I become another version of Josh, a version who’s waiting until it’s safe to show his true personality.

Fast forward to the present. Why do I love throwing parties so much? Because it’s a social environment where I’m totally in control. If the party’s great, then I’m great because I’m the host. If the party’s bad, it wrecks my soul because I was the host.

I need to solve this problem. Writing is my therapy. Helps me get it out of my system and view myself objectively.

There exists a version of Josh that I want to be. A Josh who doesn’t care whether people like him or not. A Josh that just cares about people.

So what if my friend steals my idea and throws a rad party without me? I should be happy for him. Don’t take this lying down, Josh! Make sure you throw this party before he does! No, that’s not actually important. My development as a person is more important. Overcoming my insecurities is more important.

Loving my friend is more important.

Because God first loved me.

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