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BTGOYD: VII. Personality for Popularity

By: Ardis E. Parshall - February 25, 2012

See here for overview.

VII.

Personality for Popularity

When the girls get together and the chief chatter matter is the good time they had last night, you can’t contribute much enthusiasm if you weren’t there. It is a devastating feeling to be in a group and have others go strolling off together for some special fun or to dancing away and leave you alone wishing you could become invisible.

Having friends, being in on the fun, being wanted by the group is not only a natural desire of every young person, but also a fundamental need, as explained in Chapter III. And right now the affection of your parents, teachers, brothers, and sisters isn’t enough. You want the kind of popularity with your own age group that leads to parties, dates, and plenty of dancing partners – the kind that means lots of friends want you along for any interesting things they plan. You want boy friends as well as girl friends, not only because more of your social life requires couple participation, but also because, as mentioned in the last chapter, learning to understand and get along with a fairly large number of boys will help you later to make a wiser choice of a partner for marriage.


How do you feel around boys?

Boys are just people, too. They have the same social needs, the same desires to be liked, and some of the same problems you have. The friendliness and consideration that win girl friends win boy friends. There are, however, several complicating factors which make quite a difference.

In the first place, as boys and girls first begin associating together in a dating relationship, they feel rather self-conscious and ill-at-ease with each other. Almost everyone goes through this stage, but some girls (and boys, too) seem to get stuck there.

But you won’t be really popular until you begin to get over that feeling, for when you are embarrassed, the boy feels some awkward and uncomfortable, too. If neither of you can think of anything to say or do, what’s the fun? So next time he’s apt to concentrate on someone easier to entertain, not that you aren’t pretty nice, but he doesn’t feel very sure of himself yet.

What Are Some of the Specific Things You Can Do to
Help You Feel More at Ease with Boys?

1. Decide which boys you do feel most comfortable with now. Your brother’s gang? Those more bashful than you? Those older? Younger? Concentrate on these a while before you try to impress the ones that dazzle you.

2. Make a definite effort to talk to some boys every day. You’ll find that practice helps.

3. Read some of the books and articles boys find interesting so you can discuss them. Know who’s who and what’s what in the field of sports.

4. Be clever about getting the boys to do the talking. Ask questions that give them a chance to explain their interests and air their opinions and then listen with flattering attention.

5. Learn some riddles or simple little stunts and tricks to use as icebreakers in groups or to start a conversation.

6. Practice making candy or pie or fancy ice cream concoctions. Try your skill on your brother’s gang (if you are lucky enough to have a brother near your age) until you can work your magic for your own friends. You will find the kitchen is still an easier route to some hearts than the living room.

7. Seek rather than avoid opportunities to do things with boys that have nothing to do with dating, such as working on committees, studying together, participating in plays and programs.

8. Try to forget yourself and think about how to make boys feel comfortable and at ease.

9. Don’t get your feelings hurt over trifles. Teasing and slipping up on some of the expected courtesies are more apt to be a matter of thoughtlessness and lack of social experience than any intent to hurt you.

10. Be honestly interested in boys as people and worth-while friends. Be courteous and warm-hearted and friendly to all of the boys in your group, and don’t think of boys only in terms of possible dates.

Don’t Be Too Aggressive

It’s a plain biological fact, so fact it, that most boys of fourteen or fifteen are less interested in girls than most girls of that age are interested in boys. Oh, they’ll stick around all right and come to the parties you plan, but they’re apt to be more impressed with the refreshments than with your new haircut. They aren’t too concerned about polishing up their manners to please you. And most of them would laugh right out loud at the idea of you expecting them to act like your favorite movie or TV hero. There are plenty of exceptions, but for some fellows this attitude goes until they are eighteen or twenty.

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He’s apt to be much more impressed with the refreshments than with your fancy new hairdo.
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So take it easy. Ever since the days of the cave man, the male right to initiative in matters of courtship has been recognized by society. The girl who is smart enough to take a long-range view is willing to leave it that way. If you start phoning the fellows or hanging around them and too obviously try pushing them into making dates, they get pretty independent, and why not? Once they label you a manhunter, it’s hard ever to reverse the process and start them coming your way.

The Desire for Prestige Creates Pressure on Both Girls and Boys

Another problem grows out of the fact that boys want to be seen with, dance with, and date the most popular girls because that improves their social status. Girls likewise compete for the attention of the prominent fellows. This all adds up to making the already popular more so, and to making it harder for others to break into the inner circle.

It is unfortunate both for those in and outside of the “elite” group when smugness and social snobbery develop.

There are bound to be small cliques and groups within any large groups, and it is important to belong to the right ones, of course. People are judged by the companions they keep, and you might get a reputation you don’t deserve if you associate with the “wrong” groups. Your judgment should be sound, however, and should not be based on superficial. things.

It isn’t very democratic to be swayed by the prejudices of others, especially if they are based on such factors as a different nationality, or a person not having a car, fancy clothes, or enough spending money. Learn to think for yourself in choosing friends and let character and personality be the reason for your acceptance or rejection of an individual as a friend rather than let yourself be dominated by the opinion of some smug little group.

Every girl can’t be the queen in all of the popularity contests, but every girl can have her share of friends and fun. You’ll miss a lot of nice experiences and good times and miss knowing some very congenial people if you can only see one little group and spend your time moping around if you can’t be a part of it. Some people waste a great deal of energy struggling for social position.

Perhaps You’re Already a Very Popular Girl

Some girls seem to make an easy adjustment to life from the beginning. The admiration and encouragement they have enjoyed since childhood have developed their self-confidence and led to more opportunities for social experiences. So they have had some advantages all along the way.

If you are one of these, feel grateful for your advantages, but now you face a challenge and a responsibility, for you are one of those who have the leadership to set the conduct standards for the boy and girl relationships in your community. Those who long for your “position” will copy your behavior. You are also one who can afford to go out of your way to be friendly and give a helping hand to those who are not yet so well adjusted.

For a few girls popularity is brief and fleeting, because it is not based on sufficient depth of character and consideration for others to wear well. If after a while, a girl’s friends have heard her “line” until it begins to get monotonous, if she becomes spoiled by admiration and begins to assume that attention and favors are her due, if her attraction is based only on physical beauty without corresponding beauty and charm in her manners and her feelings toward people, if she is cute in ways that appeal only to young teenagers, her companions will soon outgrow her stage of development, and she will lose the place she formerly held.

Fortunately this needn’t ever happen. If girls keep on growing and accept tributes to their loveliness as inspiration and incentive for increasing it, and if they are always thoughtful of the feelings and happiness of others, their popularity is bound to increase constantly.

If You Are Not as Popular as You Would Like to Be,
Does It Mean There is Something Basically Wrong with Your Personality?

If the boys aren’t paying much attention yet, don’t feel discouraged. It’s hard to be patient if you are longing for more social activity and are feeling left out, but it might be that all you need is another birthday or two. Maybe you are already more grown-up than the boys in your crowd, and you’ll be more popular when they have time to catch up.

Any older sister can tell you that many a girl who had few dates in high school became a queen and developed outstanding leadership in college or in her late teens.

The same is true of boys. Among the men who are most attractive, most prominent and successful at twenty-eight or thirty, quite a number will have been socially inconspicuous at seventeen to twenty. So if you are thinking of marriage, don’t worry for fear the most popular girls will take all the desirable men before you come into your own. Eventually they have to settle for only one each, and you will be surprised to see what happens to some of the fellows you scarcely notice now.

If you can manage to have all the fun possible in other ways, if you can avoid getting too worried about yourself and avoid developing any bad defensive attitudes or making excuses for your lack of attention, if you can be friendly with the boys when you are around them and not scare them off by obviously angling for dates, if you are generally a happy person and you have always in the past been able to get along well enough with others, if you have no trouble making and keeping girl friends, a little more time is probably all you need.

If after several more years you still feel that you are not “making the grade,” perhaps you should talk over your problems confidentially with some adult friend who is willing and able to help you analyze yourself and see what you need and what can be done about it.

In the meantime, here are some other suggestions:

What is Your Eye Appeal?

You can’t help it if you don’t have classic features or a Hollywood figure, and anyway you don’t have to be pretty to be popular. But you can learn to make the most of what you do have and be a very attractive girl. Looks aren’t everything, but they do count. If you doubt it, think of a few of the boys you admire. Isn’t good grooming and the clean-cut look well up on the list of qualities that spell attraction for you? Boys like to be seen with a girl who draws admiring eyes in her direction, too.

Remember, your appearance makes that first impression and if you’re easy to look at, folks are more likely to stay around long enough to find out if you’re worth knowing better. You never can tell, either, when you’re going to meet someone you want to impress right – and right now.

So walk up to a full-length mirror. What do you see? Do you have that fresh, scrubbed, well-brushed look? Do your hair and make-up flatter your face? Are the colors right for your coloring? Are you style-wise for your figure? Is your dress appropriate for the occasion? Is the hemline straight? Do you wear your height, whatever it is, with pride? Ever try the models’ posture exercise and walk with a book on your head?

Now say a friendly “hello” to the girl in the glass. How does your voice sound? Your voice indicates your poise, you know. Are you afraid of the sound of it, so you swallow your words or does it boom out loud enough to echo? Too high, too harsh or rasping, or is it warm and friendly as you want it to be? Here’s a secret: it usually sounds the way you feel. But don’t overwork it. No matter how nice it is, people don’t want to hear yours all the time.

Appearance isn’t all of personality, but your personality shows in your appearance. Your feelings and attitudes create the expression on your face. Is there friendliness, interest, animation, joy of living, sympathy, and some reserve depths of character there?

A pretty dress is less important than a kind heart beating beneath it, but there is no reason why you shouldn’t fit the description in the song and be both “lovely to look at, delightful to know.” One way to achieve this is to do your very best for your prettiness, tip to toe, before you leave home and then forget about your looks. Never, never be guilty of constantly fussing with your clothes or polishing up your appearance in public.

How Is Your Conversation?

There are two types of conversational ability you should develop. When the discussion centers on such topics as books, classical music, or world problems, you will want to be able to add your bit. This will require that you store plenty of facts in that pretty head of yours and that you read, listen, observe, and think enough to have some opinions worth airing. Then you will need to practice until you can express your ideas clearly and intelligently.

But you don’t want to start expounding political theories on the dance floor or while munching hamburgers with the crowd. There are times and places for the inconsequential chit-chat that serves no serious purpose except to help everyone have a good time. A generous amount of this is made up of comments about the weather, the scenery, the music, the decorations, the food, which merely amounts to dozens of ways of saying, “Aren’t we having fun?” Another generous portion includes friendly complimentary remarks about how people look; what they are wearing; how well they do things. “That’s a smart-looking tie. Is it true that fellows usually don’t like the ties women pick for them?” “You’re really a smooth dancer.” Then there are all the things going on in your world of school, home, and community that are good topics for talking. Questions that draw out the opinions of others help to keep the conversation going. Another good conversational ingredient is humor. Clever comebacks, wisecracks, good jokes, funny incidents all add their bit to the entertainment. No cattiness or sharp-tongued sarcasm though, please! Plenty of practice on friendly hellos and greetings will help you feel more at ease about talking.

Free flowing conversation helps to keep everyone comfortable, but when you are feeling self-conscious, it is hard to think of much to say. Feeling at ease and easy chatter come along together. They come only through practice, so don’t worry if you don’t do too well yet – but now is the time to start practising.

An almost universal characteristic of teen talk is slang. Avoid if you can the slang terms such as “ain’t” and “you gotta,” which are merely bad grammar, for too many of those in your speech give the impression that you don’t know good English. Avoid also sprinkling your conversation too generously with slang words that are substitutes for profanity. Such expressions are certainly less offensive than the real swear words they replace, but some of them do reflect poor taste and lack of refinement.

Another type of slang includes those phrases and expressions – some entirely new made-up words, not yet found in the dictionary, others – common words used with new and different meanings, which young people use in describing their activities and themselves. Each generation coins a whole new vocabulary and eventually some of the words do come into general usage. In a recent article in a national magazine a writer claimed that the talk of young people to one another on a high school campus today is so different from the speech of these same students to adults and in classes and so difficult for anyone not familiar with it to understand that it is like two languages. That statement may be an exaggeration but any teen knows that it’s very important to one’s social standing to talk the language of the group and that part of the appeal of such slang is that it does have special meaning to the group using it. It is their language and to use it identifies a person as a member of the gang. Words and phrases that seem particularly clever, or colorful, or expressive or mysterious, spread like an epidemic from group to group.

We won’t say don’t use the slang popular in your crowd, but if you are interested in the impression you make, use it with discretion.

Did you ever stop to think how little we could know of each other if we couldn’t speak? Our speech reveals our attitudes and our personality as well as our ideas. Every time you speak, you tell something about yourself through the words you use.

Brigham Young said, “You cannot hide the heart when the mouth is open.” In Proverbs is the advice, “If thou hast thought evil, lay a hand upon the mouth” (30:32). In Matthew we read, “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man, but that which cometh out of the mouth, that defileth a man.” (15:11)

So remember that whenever you speak, in addition to the idea you express, you are broadcasting a description of yourself. Your speech might say, “I’m not a very original person; in fact, I’m quite a copy-cat. When I hear a phrase that strikes my fancy, I use it over and over and O V E R. I don’t mind if I wear it out and bore you terrifically with it.” Or you might be saying, “I don’t care if the things I say to my friends aren’t very attractive or complimentary. Get your feelings hurt if you want to, but don’t try to keep me from showing off.” Or you might say something like this: “I like people. I’m interested in how they feel as well as in what they say. Sure I want to be part of the crowd and talk like others, but I don’t want to monopolize the conversation or say unkind things just to be funny.”

What Can You Contribute to the Fun?

Will your friends have a better time if you’re along? If you sit in a corner sulking when someone disagrees with you, or if you’re a glum-chum all evening with no enthusiasm for anything the others suggest, or worse still, if you are so rough and boisterous you drown out everyone else, and the furniture suffers, the party would go more smoothly if you weren’t there. Next time, maybe you won’t be.

You don’t have to be the life of the party, but you need to bring something to the group. Think of some of the girls you admire. What do they add? A sparkling smile, attentive listening, a sense of humor, ideas for something to do, interesting conversation? What can you contribute?

Do you sit back and wait for someone else to start the fun ball rolling or can you be the girl who gets ideas and shows some initiative in getting the crowd together? Are you dependent on commercial entertainment or can you entertain friends at your home? Can you keep a group so busy having good, clean fun that no one has time to be bored or self conscious? When you are entertaining just one friend, can you suggest more interesting things to do than sitting all evening watching TV or trying to keep a conversation going? Don’t forget the possibilities of the kitchen.

One reason young people like to gather at some homes is because the parents are so popular with their son’s and daughter’s friends and enter into the fun with them. Do you arrange things so your parents can enjoy your friends occasionally and so your friends can have the privilege of knowing your parents better?

How Good Are Your Social Skills?

There are two types of skills that have a great deal of social significance.

First, there are the recreational activities involving skill, such as dancing, roller skating, playing tennis, swimming, skiing, and playing musical instruments. These are all learned through practice, and while you don’t have to be an expert to have fun, the more skill you acquire, the more you will enjoy the activities.

The greater the variety of things you can do, the more people you will meet and the more invitations you will have.

Are you learning some of these along with your group You can’t be a whizz at all of them, of course, but it will pay dividends in social opportunities if you are able to keep up with your friends and if there is at least one thing you can do well enough to win you some recognition.

The other type of social skills includes the skills of relationship, the courtesies and social arts that make it easy and pleasant for people to mingle together. They are all merely expressions of consideration for the other person and are always the kindest and most gracious things to do under the circumstances. There really is no need for rules, but to simplify your learning and applying them, rules have been developed and they are all written down for you in any good book on social conduct.

Do You Mind your Manners and Know the A B C’s of Etiquette?

If you know what is the right thing to do, it will add immeasurably to your self-confidence. If you aren’t yet sure of yourself, get hold of a good book and study it.

After you have learned the rules, practice until you can apply them. It is one thing to know what the book says about how to introduce people, but it’s hard to remember under the stress of necessity. These things are skills as truly as the athletic and recreational skills mentioned above and must be practiced as patiently. Don’t feel too embarrassed about mistakes. Everyone makes them, even adults who have had years more than you have had to practice. Remember, as we have already said, no one is born with popularity. No one is born with poise, and no one is born with these skills. If you give up skating after the first fall, you will never acquire enough skating ability to enjoy it, and if you give up trying to get along with people after the first blunders or embarrassing moments and retire to your room to read a book, you are apt to still be there after your friends have learned from their mistakes and have acquired the polish you long for.

How Can Girls Express Their Appreciation Appropriately to Boys
For Courtesies, Favors, and Good Times?

Being demanding, expecting favors as your due, and failing to show appreciation is just plain lack of good manners.

Usually it is the boy who first expresses thanks to a girl after a date that has been mutually enjoyed, and it is rather taken for granted that the boys usually pay the expenses, bestow the gifts and arrange for the entertainment. However, there are many ways a girl can show her appreciation. If a boy friend says, “Thanks, this has been a nice evening for me,” there is no reason why a girl might not say, “I enjoyed it very much, too.” It is even more gracious and thoughtful if she can pick out something for comment that compliments his taste or consideration; for example, “I particularly like that type of movie; I’m glad you picked such a good one,” or “I’m not very good at roller skating yet, but you were such a good sport about helping me that it makes me feel that I’ll learn some day.” If a girl really does enjoy the date and shows it all along, that is the sincerest appreciation.

Most people enjoy doing things for others. By gracious acceptance of favors you can add to their pleasure. Being too independent spoils the fun of the giver and creates embarrassment for both.

If someone has done something really special for you or given you some nice gift, it’s thoughtful to mention the pleasure it brought you more than once. You’ll express your thanks at the time, of course, and a later follow-up reference to your enjoyment of it will be appreciated. Don’t overdo it, though. Too much gratitude or eagerness, too much verbal expression of thanks bothers most boys. A certain amount of casualness helps.

Be clever in thinking up ways to return favors. Any hint of paying back or clearing an obligation is apt to create embarrassment. There are times and ways when girls can provide the entertainment, issue the invitations, and provide the refreshments, but make it fun, not duty.



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