As I have undoubtedly told you before, often I like to browse around different sites to see what sorts of topic prompts I might run across or just to see what other folks are talking about. One of the prompt places I like to visit is a random question generator. I dropped by there this afternoon just to see if anything caught my attention, and the question was, “Would you rather be the most popular kid in school or the smartest kid in school?” I didn’t really think much about it at first, but the idea sort of kept niggling around in my brain. Maybe because I’d never been either one, it was an intriguing idea.
Both seem to have their appeal, don’t you think? The smartest kid in school never has to worry about passing an exam or whether or not the homework is correct. That’s an awful lot of school stress they get to completely miss out on. I mean, I get that the smart kids don’t just naturally know the things they know; they learned them by putting in some effort and attention, but with most of the really smart people I’ve known, they require far less effort and attention than I do, and they end up knowing a lot more, too. Especially as I sit here knowing that I’ve still got a few pages I need to read before class tomorrow night, I kind of think being super-duper smart could come in handy.
On the other hand, while I was never even close to the smartest kid in school, I can admit that I was often considered a little bit “brainy”, and I know that learning does come easier to me than it does to some others. I’m lucky in that regard, even if I’m really not super-duper smart. But when you’re a kid, being considered “brainy” by the other kids isn’t always a good thing. In the hierarchy of the schoolyard, people passing tests and not worrying about homework come in a long way below football players and cheerleaders. The popular kids have lots of friends and they always get invited to parties and asked out on dates. And, the sad reality is, if they’re popular enough, it doesn’t really seem to matter if they pass their tests or not. There were a lot of days in my childhood when thought it would be much cooler to be even a little bit popular instead of a little bit smart.
By the time I was in high school, though, I’d mostly given up that idea, having recognized that a large number of popular people seemed to be not only very superficial, but also very phony. I have never had much patience for those who try to present themselves in a certain way just to be accepted. Because, really, what good does it do to have an army of friends if none of them really know you? To have people with you day and night without being able to talk to them honestly? There’s no benefit to that at all.
So, yeah, maybe being the popular kid and the smart kid both have their advantages, but—like most things—they’ve got their disadvantages, too. So, if you ask me which I’d rather be, I’d have to say neither. Or both. I don’t really want to be lumped into any category that may or may not truly represent me, but I wouldn’t mind being both a smart and popular kid—someone who makes good grades and still manages to do homework between the parties and the dates. I don’t know what you’d call a person like that, but I’d hope maybe they’d be called “friend”.