How to convince my shy teens the truth about popularity


High School 

If I heard it once back in the day, I heard it a hundred times. Enjoy high school, these are the best years of your life! 

I disagree. 

High School was hard. Not the courses, but the awkward teenage years. Everything and everyone changes. You feel like you don’t fit in anywhere. Every little inadequacy feels as if it’s spotlighted into a massive flaw.  

At the time, I’d blamed much of my social ineptness on not being rich enough to afford the latest social fashions. Or losing my childhood friend. Because apparently once you hit high school you couldn’t have a best friend who was a boy—unless you were a couple. 

I was wrong.

We aren’t rich by any means, but my girls were able to buy brand name and wear the latest fashions in junior high. But it made no difference in their social ease or popularity. It didn’t stop them from losing long time friendships as girls became catty and hormones separated the strong from the weak. 

I’ve never once told my girls these were the best years of their life, because that’s a lie.

Believing that would mean we peak at a young age and the rest of our lives are endured on a downhill slope. What would there be to look forward to? Despite how many times I tell my girls not to worry about these little things that seem so big. That there are so many more things coming. That they’re so much more wonderful than they realize. To enjoy these years but don’t fret about them— they can’t hear me.

I’m just Mom.

The woman who won’t really know anything for another handful of years. 

As I reflect back over my life I can finally assure my teen self that these things had nothing to do with happiness and popularity. I’ve long ago accepted the stunning truth that popularity doesn’t = happiness.

You require one thing to achieve happiness. Once you have it, you'll no longer care about popularity. Click To Tweet

It’s a little gem that can’t be bought or shared…you must discover this magic within. Sometimes you can’t unearth it. Then you just have to fake it until you make it your reality.


Despite the pain at not being able to wave my Mom-magic-wand and make everything better as I could when they were small, I’ve discovered something blossoming within my young teens.

As they maneuver the senior high years, they’ve finally shed the chameleon shell. The one where they blended into whatever they felt was expected from their friends. They’ve found their true selves and embraced their heart.

They might not see it yet, but I’ve noticed this little growth of confidence…these little changes inspiring them to follow their own path…and it’s beautiful. 

So tell me, what little piece of advice would you give your high-school self? 

Leaving a comment will enter you in a random drawing for a copy of your choice of one of my books in ebook format. Winner will be announced by April 6th. 

55 Replies

55 thoughts on “How to convince my shy teens the truth about popularity

  1. Judy Ann Davis

    It’s okay to be a loner at times and not always fit in. Find a creative outlet or something you like to do and pursue it–art, reading, painting, sewing, playing a musical instrument, etc. [I found out the catty, most popular girls in high school later proved they reached their maximum potential when they received their high school diplomas.] 🙂

    1. Maureen L. Bonatch Post author

      Judy- I love your ending statement- lol! Wonderful advice about the creative outlet. Thank you for visiting!

  2. M. J. Schiller, Romance Author

    I agree, Maureen, and sympathize with you. The only thing harder than being a teen is being the parent of a teen. At least when you’re going through it yourself you have choices on how you can handle things. To have to watch someone you love stumble their way through it is much more difficult.

    If I could give advice to my teen self I’d say, “what if you didn’t have to prove something to the world, rather, they had to prove something to you? Lighten up. Life is good.”

    1. Maureen L. Bonatch Post author

      MJ- Oh I love your advice to your teen self- what a wonderful way to look at it! Thank you for visiting!

  3. Leah St. James

    I love MJ’s response. I’d tell myself there’s a giant world out there. Explore. Experience. Enjoy.Meet new people who won’t see you through the eyes of the people you’ve grown up with.

    1. Maureen L. Bonatch Post author

      So true, Leah. You get to renew yourself with each new ‘adventure’ in life and be whoever you want to be.

  4. Diane Burton

    I feel sorry for people whose best years were in high school. They’ve missed so much. I’d tell my younger self to lighten up, see the humor in life, and enjoy. The best is yet to come.

    1. Maureen L. Bonatch Post author

      Diane- I’ve always thought humor was the best medicine. Thank you for stopping by!

  5. Lisa Bertolino

    Focusing on your education will get you farther in life than being popular in high school. Most teenagers are struggling with wanting to fit in, even if it’s not obvious. It’s such a very small part of life and it definitely gets better!

    1. Maureen L. Bonatch Post author

      So true, Lisa! There is such a big world outside of high school. Thank you so much for visiting! 🙂

  6. Marissa Garner

    What happens in high school stays in high school unless you let it follow you down the road of life. Don’t. The day after graduation should definitely be the first day of the rest of your life.

  7. Kathy Kiefer

    I would say. Go to bed earlier! You don’t have to have a boyfriend! Quit letting other people determine your self worth! Stand up for yourself, and maybe they will leave you alone. Repeat to yourself, you are smart, you are beautiful , you are worthy, and just as wonderful as all those girls you think are so much better than you! Because you are right Maureen it is confidence. Not to much, but just enough will get you through it! Love you sissy! My talented, beautiful sissy! Love Kathy

  8. susan coryell

    My advice: Find something you are good at (anything–writing, perhaps. Computers, music–it does not matter) and pursue it with the idea of becoming better at it. This way the teen of either sex will gather about him or her a group of folks who have common interests. This is a great way to build self-esteem and ward off bullying. I pursue this theme in my YA novel EAGLEBAIT. Thanks for a thought-provoking post!

  9. Kristina O

    Thanks for joining the Blog Hop!! If I could go back and give my high school self advice I would have soooo much to say. Concentrate on school, not boys! They’ll eventually (maybe) grow up. Make a few good friends, after high school you will probably never see the rest of these people again! Be kind, and stand up for those that need it. Find your passion!

    1. Maureen L. Bonatch Post author

      Thanks for visiting Kristina. Great advice! I tell my girls all the time – that they won’t see most of these people again so only concentrate on the people who matter to them. 🙂

    2. Maureen L. Bonatch Post author

      Kristina- congratulations! Just for visiting and commenting- You are the winner of one of my books in ebook format!

  10. Marlow

    I went to an all girls convent school in England, which was five years of bitchy hell. My grandfather told me, at the time, that they were the best years of my life. I remember thinking, if these are the best years how bad is the rest of it going to be?
    I now have two teenage girls, one a senior in high school and one in junior high. Junior high seems to be the worst. It’s when adolescent girls are learning to ride the hormone dragon.
    I tell them that these are the worst years of their life. Once they leave high school they’re adults and can choose their own path.
    This is an aside to your post, it bothers me that there are very few laws to protect children who are bullied and victimized at school, but once you are an adult in the workforce there are all sorts of laws in place to protect you from workplace harassment. Why is that?
    My girls haven’t been harassed or bullied, but I know friends who have been and it’s always disturbing.

    1. Maureen L. Bonatch Post author

      Thank you for visiting Marlow! I love your expression of ‘riding the hormone dragon’. That explains it so well! So true about bullying. It seems our schools have been taking an active role in identifying and reducing that, but there is a long way to go.

  11. devine warnes

    I would say… live with no restrictions and who cares what people think… treat people the way you want to be treated…karma has a way of resurfacing.. ty for doing this hop 🙂

  12. Devon McKay

    What a great blog. I remember caring too much about what other people thought instead of focusing on myself. Now, my concerns are so different and I love the person I’ve become. I guess my best advice on high school is to let the future generation know that the person you are now is only a hint of the person you will become.

    1. Maureen L. Bonatch Post author

      Devon- thank you for visiting! Great advice! There is so much more to come in life 🙂

  13. darcy thorn

    Those augh moments are only moments and only have power if you believe. Instead believe there are the lords arms surrounding you every moment of every day and feel the joy!

  14. Tammie Browning

    It’s better to have a couple real friends then a lot of fake friends. Keep your true friends close but let the others go, they will just use you in the end and hurt your feelings.

  15. Deb

    Be yourself and don’t let your parents be your downfall by believing that you are not good enough, smart enough or wanted.

  16. Susabelle Kelmer

    I would tell myself two things:

    1. Don’t listen to the bullies who call you The Blimp. You are the thinnest you will ever be for the rest of your life.
    2. No matter how many times you told yourself going to the prom didn’t matter, and not being asked and not going was okay. It was not okay, and you should have ether gone with your best friend, or found a boy to ask. I’m still the fat girl, and I still resent and regret that I did not go to my high school prom.

    1. Maureen L. Bonatch Post author

      Susabelle- It’s terrible how cruel kids can be during high school. I know I also have memories I’d rather forget of those kids who built themselves up by putting others down. Thank you so much for visiting and sharing your advice.

  17. Sunni

    To work harder with my studies and don’t take that year off you won’t end up going and that will be your downfall for your future:(

  18. Grace HartFire

    I’m on,y a mom to 9 furbabies but even I know that no one is ever ‘just a mom’
    Especially if you’re doing it right!! You’re a role model for your kids regardless of their gender.
    High school wasn’t the best years of my life. College was so much better!
    Thank you for participating in this hop!

  19. Ruth Limeburner

    The advise I would give is be yourself, don’t care so much about what other people think. My little things are reading, my two cats, and dark chocolate.

    Thanks for being part of the blog hop.

  20. Brittany

    My daughter is in kindergarten so she isn’t here yet, but my son is in fifth grade and even that is a social struggle some days. I will never tell them school days are the best times because they arent! The best times are yet to come. I remind them bullies have problems that they are taking out on them and will not succeed in life being bullies. I tell them I had a few best friends and lots of friends in school, but am currently only friends with one of those people still. Just remember this too shall pass and eventually you will be on the other side of the rainbow!

  21. Darcy Thorn

    I would say “Don’t wear your sister’s hand me down clothes” She will tell everyone she knows!
    She was older than me by only a year!
    Love her now but gesh!

  22. Christina Wagner

    To my younger self I would say don’t date Justin. He was a lot older, and the only guy that showed interest in me. Then he became verbally, mentally, and physically abusive, and because he was the only guy that showed interest in me I thought for a long time that I deserved it. The only good thing that came out of it is I stopped being anorexic, and gained confidence in my self.
    It also helped me raise a beautiful, strong, independent daughter who has a great group of friends who love her for being herself.

  23. Scarlett West

    That;s very true what you wrote. I can relate to this post on different levels. I blogged about Epic vs Authentic bc I feel like we are constantly pressured to be so “amazing” when it feels we may miss the point about authenticity mattering as well. At times, “being epic” to me feels like an adult version of popularity.

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