The Struggle of Breaking Social Boundaries

May 15, 2008
By Alec Johnson, Hartland, WI

High school is the time in our lives where we start to discover our true selves and where we fit in this world. It’s also a time where people meet new friends and do their best to be accepted and noticed. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for people to do that. There are boundaries that divide us and keep us from getting to know other people. Some of these boundaries are economic status, race, the clothes we wear, our interests, the way we act, etc.

There are many labels that high school students use to give an identity to a person. Many of these are jock, skater, Goth, nerd, etc. Other factors students judge each other by are clothing, behaviors, or even the people they hang out with. Because of this, many people try to find people who have similar interests and make friends with them. For example, the football team at my school hangs out together as well as members of the hockey team and other sports. They often sit together at lunch at the same table everyday. I do the same thing by sitting with my friends who are on the cross country and track teams, which I’m a part of, too.

When someone new tries to join a certain group of people, they often get rejected because they’re different and the group has a hard time accepting change. Popularity is a good example of this hard-line, conformist approach. These people are jocks and preppies who show their power by bragging about how cool they are or doing things to impress others. People who have a high social status will do anything to stay popular, even if it means teasing someone who’s different from them. They often choose people that easily get annoyed.
One day, when I was in the lunchroom with my friends, a kid from my grade school that I didn’t like came up to my table and sat down. I was nervous because I knew he had bothered me in grade school. His friend sat by me, too. One of them said my name to get me to look. I looked and they started laughing. I turned back around. They tried to do it again and again, but I was able to ignore them and they eventually gave up. I didn’t get upset, but it made me think of my friend and his similar situations with the kid from my grade school. He had gone through the same things that I had gone through. The experiences made him angry and bitter toward the kid that bothered him. This is why kids who aren’t as popular have these feelings toward popular kids, especially if they’ve been in a similar situation. Not all people who are popular do these things, but this is often the stereotype that students have in their minds when they look at jocks and preppies.

It’s often human nature to stay with a group of friends we have known for a long time. It’s not a bad thing to hang out with that group. But, there are others out there who are longing to belong and when we don’t pay attention to these people, they feel lonely and excluded. By getting out of the comfort zone that is our friends, we can learn more about other people and break down the barriers that often hold us back from knowing their true character.

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