I’ve never attended an English school myself, as I grew up in Sweden and then went to an American high school for three years. But I think the concept of ‘cliques’ is more or less the same the world over – there’s always going to be the popular group, the clever ones, the funny ones, the weirdos, the loners … etc. There’s no getting away from it and it seems to be a universal way for humans to flock together with people who they think are similar or the same as themselves. Why do we do that?
I guess it gives a feeling of security and belonging, and there’s safety in numbers. If you’re with a group of peers who are just like you, you’ve always got back-up whatever happens. And you’ll know that they are going to enjoy the same things you do so you are almost 100% guaranteed to have fun together.
Sometimes that enjoyment takes the form of dissing the other cliques though and that’s when things can turn nasty. Bullying is horrible and disgusting – there’s no two ways about it. Anyone who has been on the receiving end knows how awful it makes you feel, and those who have dished it out must surely dread ever having the tables turned on them?
A bit of friendly rivalry is okay, accepting the other groups but still being able to joke with each other. Because we are all different and that’s good, isn’t it? If everyone was exactly the same the world would be really boring!
But what do you do if you can fit into more than one clique? Me, for example. When I first started at the American high school I didn’t really fit in at all as it was all new to me, but I had several options. Initially I was befriended by a group of jocks who lived near me and sort of took me under their wing for a while. I liked being with them, but I’m not sporty (although I did try being on the swim team for a while) and when they noticed me talking to other cliques, I was quietly dropped. I also had some so called “freaks” as my neighbours (ie the jocks thought they were freaks because they didn’t conform in any way, didn’t do homework/sports or dress nicely) and they were fun to hang out with. But at the same time I got good grades (unlike them) so also hung out with some of the quiet brainiacs. I found it really tough to juggle them all since they refused to talk to each other!
The solution? I eventually got together with three fellow Swedes, a girl from the Philippines, a couple of Americans, a Swiss boy and a half-Japanese one and we formed our own ‘clique’. We were all different, but we were friends and accepted each others’ differences – that is the most important thing of all. Sorry if that sounds “preachy” but it worked!