in with the in crowd…
you ever asked yourself what it would take to be in with the in crowd?
You know, the people you want to dress like…look like…be like? It all stems
from our need to be accepted, liked, and appreciated. But it's not that easy…or
me, the in crowd at school was comprised of jocks, cheerleaders, or potheads. I
was lumped in with everyone else, often taunted and underappreciated for my
vast array of creative gifts. Remember the old TV show, now back in fashion,
Square Pegs? Picture me as Sarah Jessica Parker's character Patty or her friend
Lauren. I always thought Johnny Flash
was kinda cool because he did his own thing, no matter what. That was me.
I laid low. I did my own thing. I had some friends that I hung out with but
sometimes even they didn't get my jokes or like the same things I did. Was I so
unusual? Would I ever fit in ANYWHERE? The answer was yes…and no.
bar scene allowed me to meet some people I may not have otherwise. People who
not only got my jokes, but sometimes laughed (pity or not, I didn't care). They
read the same kinds of books I did, listened to the same kinds of music (or
turned me on to new stuff), and actually listened to me. This became my in
crowd. The difference about our in crowd versus the ones you don't create
yourself is this: I was already "in". People on the outside looking
into our crowd had a sense of awe about us, overhearing snippets of our
conversations, which could range from the latest SciFi
book to politics to music to sex to obscure Gary Larson references (blah, blah,
blah, Ginger). If you didn't get it, any of it, you didn't last long. Not that
we were in the least bit mean. We were a bunch of misfits ourselves, so many of
us knew exclusion. We weren't into that.
circles change. And in order to keep up or get in, you have to be willing to
change as well. I'm treading on thin ice here, so read this carefully. To best express what I mean, I'll use some
used to tell my underlings that you should always be nice to the geeks. Why? Because they're the ones who will end up owning companies like Microsoft;
becoming world-renowned concert pianists; or horror of horrors, your boss.
That and because you just should.
how does the geek de-geek-ify? Well, geeks are
usually labeled so because they are very smart and/or socially awkward. But
those social stigmas, like bad SAT scores, can be overcome. (Being smart is
good, just as long as you aren't a Cliff Claven
Scenario: A geek is invited to attend
a house party for his college graduation. While he would normally avoid such a
potentially humiliating event, a semi-geek friend insists. So what does he do?
- Fashion. Don't
dress like a geek (this is where the change comes in). He should at
least lean toward a current yet conservative fashion trend. This will help
him to blend in while not appearing geekish, or
- Commonality. I would be very
surprised to find he had nothing in common with anyone at the party. The
trick is to find out what you have in common. If he spots a woman who sat
behind him in Art Appreciation, he already knows what he has in common
with her. Remembering that almost everyone is uncomfortable in some social
situation, he can approach her and strike up a conversation. They can
discuss (or trash) the art in the room and others are certain to join in
on a lively conversation. While politics and religion are generally taboo,
current events are also good ice breakers.
- People skills. If he's the guy who
gets pelted with rotten fruits and vegetables, then he should have stayed
home. This crowd is obviously mean-spirited and he's better off without
them. However, if he's merely on the fringe of the socially acceptable,
it's easy to break in by learning a simple listening skill. This skill,
often referred to as Reflective
Listening, is repeating what the other person just said, but using
different words. This makes it clear that he's listening and understands,
while not sounding like a parrot. Build on the conversation from there. And,
this is very important, don't forget to make eye contact.
- Know when to leave. The old adage
"leave while you're having a good time" is very true. If our
geek stays longer, he'll soon find that he's no longer having fun and
offering the host tips on how to get that unidentifiable stain out of the
knows a wannabe. The wannabe is someone who's always hanging around certain
groups but seems to offer no input or value. S/he is always just kinda there.
This is probably most prevalent with musicians. If it's a woman, almost
everyone assumes she's a groupie. But what if she's just wants to hang out and
Scenario: A woman who desperately
wants to be part of a band but has no musical experience. How does she break
- Why? What is it about the
band or the scene that's so attractive to her? Is it the excitement?
Sweaty guys in leather? Fame? Fortune? Sex? Drugs? She needs to know this
before anything else. Otherwise, she's just a groupie, a hanger on, a
nuisance. And a nuisance generally isn't around for very long. (If she
wants to be a groupie, then this doesn't apply.)
- Learn about your
environment. What kind of person does she want to be? Where would
that type of person hang out, perform, etc.? Check out those places
to see what's so appealing. (If it's a gig, chances are the money is
what's so appealing.) Once she's in a situation with the in crowd, she
should observe them. What makes them different? Again, why does she want
to be with them? (Musicians by nature are a bit quirky, so beware of
- Take charge. If she's hanging out
because she wants to become a musician, then there are a lot more steps to
take. Sure, she can learn a lot about music and style (not to mention,
witness some pretty amazing jam sessions) but in order to break in, she
needs training. She should go to music school. Buy a teaching video. Hire
a private instructor. (I'd recommend the last because it's cheaper than
school, they offer individualized training, and many teachers will
negotiate fees. Some even barter.) Just as she can't learn to paint by
staring at the Mona Lisa, she won't become a headliner for Phish's next "We're Never Going to Tour Again
Tour" by watching Phreaky Phrank tune his Les Paul.
- Contribute. She has no musical
talent but still desperately wants to be in the music biz. Now what? For
every musician on tour today, there are literally hundreds of people
behind the scenes: roadies, technicians, booking agents, managers, and the
list goes on and on. Do some reading, some
research, and find out what's needed out there. If she has good
organizational skills, she could become a manager or promoter. A good
accountant? She could handle the band's finances. A whiz with fashion?
Meet the band's new wardrobe coordinator. Don't underestimate the
importance of these jobs. And most of all, don't forget to get paid.
there you have it…just a couple of ways to break into your in crowd. There are
so many types of organizations that cater to your tastes and are still very
cool. You just need to find them and develop your own passion or skill. People
will come to respect your contributions and hobbies (unless it's something
really disgusting like collecting the decaying remains of roadkill).
Above all, don't change into something you're not. Sooner, rather than later,
you'll regret it.