I wasn’t the popular kid in school.  Who was really?  At my five year high school reunion, I found out from one of the "popular" girls that she never felt popular.  I spent the evening with old friends and a girl I had never said more than five words to back in school and we both asked the question, "Why weren't we friends back then?"  Thanks to Facebook, we can now comment on each others' statuses and invite each other to events that we know the other will never make it to.  Looks like high school could have been quite different if we had just talked.  But the barriers at that age are set by an invisible fence that keeps the "popular" kids separate from the non-populars based on their first impressions.  And as much as I love the movie, Mean Girls, I have to admit, my high school wasn't the extreme social structure that other people my age experienced in their teenage years.  I actually attended a school that was pretty open and progressive with its social structure but we were by no means immune to the phenomenon of Queen Bees and Wannabes. 

Regardless of my positive high school experience, I always knew I wasn't the popular kid.  Finally, I spent a few summers working at Boy Scout camp where I attempted to give a great first impression that would place me in the in-crowd.  I felt I had succeeded to a certain point and back to school I went.  When I headed off to college, I had wondered if maybe this was the time I would be accepted by the cool crowd thinking it might be my last chance at a first impression.  Two years later when I checked in at Vista Way, I started getting nervous about the fact that I had to give another first impression.  Where would I end up this time?  Would I finally be part of the poplar group?

Finally I reached a point where I came to realize that life is full of first impressions.  When you're finished counting the years of your life by how many years of school you have left, the seasons start to blend together.  Now, every day presents the opportunity for a first impression and after the experience at my five year reunion, I realized being popular doesn't really exist.  Yes, some people are known by more people and some people have larger social networks, but I have learned that the inside of the circle doesn't seem to be as glamorous as I once thought.  After that realization, I made the proactive choice to always make people in my surroundings feel included and part of the in-crowd.  Theatre circles are usually full of people that felt the same way that I did in high school and I'm proud to have found STAGE at this point in my life.  It is a place where everyone is the popular kid.