Over at Jezebel, one of my favorite pop culture feministy blogs, the headline story right now is called “Under Pressure: The Terrible Curse of ‘Most Likely to Succeed.’”
It’s taken a lot to work up the nerve to say this, but here goes. I, too, was voted “Most Likely to Succeed” in high school. Whew, I feel better now that I got that off my chest. It’s hard, ok? Knowing that all of those people in high school who were friends with you in order to get your answers to the homework really were looking up to you and respecting you the whole time.
My whole life was defined by this one moment in high school. I will forever be under pressure to be successful, because otherwise my classmates who I practically will never see again for the rest of my life except for our ten year reunion where I will hopefully get spectacularly drunk in order to deal with the whole thing will be disappointed. We don’t want to disappoint the classmates!
I’ve already got a lot of work to do in the not disappointing the classmates department, due to the whole being queer thing that no one knew about. So they’re probably already disappointed by me for not already being married and spawning like some of them. I must make up ground! I must become whatever it is they deem to be “successful,” forsaking my own definition of success and forgoing my own dreams. Because my high school class voted me MLS (that’s what those of us in the Likely Successes club call it. Didn’t know about the club? Probably because you’re not likely enough to be successful. It’s a cool club though – we have a secret handshake and discount rates on stress therapy sessions).
But other than the club, which is super fictitiously awesome, the MLS title hangs over me. I can’t judge myself based on my own definitions of success and happiness because I am continually trying to meet the expectations of a group of people who really don’t know me anymore. Because that’s totally possible.
I bet the people who were voted Class Clown and Best Hair have this problem too.