High School: Which Group Were You?

The Plastics - the ultimate clique
The Plastics - the ultimate clique

The Plastics – the ultimate clique

If any teen movie is to be believed, the group you belong to in high school defines everything. There are the popular ones, the nerds, the jocks, the sexually active band geeks… OK, maybe not. But you get the picture. What group you fit into was important, and defined who you could and couldn’t talk to.

Or not.

Recently I went to a high school reunion of sorts. My high school is closing down and a fair number of my grade turned out to see the final event. It got us talking about groups in school and how we never really had any.

But it was then I realised: They did. It was me who didn’t. I’ve never fit in. Apart from a brief sojourn in 1999 when I had a set bunch of friends and a standing Saturday night arrangement for Skate2000, I’ve spent most of my life in a group of two.

I’ve never really fit in anywhere. I wasn’t popular, but wasn’t unpopular. I wasn’t sporty, or smart. Not hugely artistic (contrary to what my later hobbies would lead you to believe), or nerdy, or good at anything enough to stand out. I was unusually skinny, overwhelmingly loud, and outstandingly average.

I used to call myself a “social butterfly”. I would flit between groups as the mood called for it and while I was happily accepted in to most groups for a conversation or two, I never really fit in anywhere.

But that was high school. That’s when the cliques end, right?


As an adult I am still in a group of two (although thanks to my best friend moving to Albury my group of two now consists of the Viking & I – it may be a group of three if she were here). I have no shortage of friends, don’t get me wrong, but my friends are the most random accumulation of random people you’ve ever met. There are people I’ve met on trains, people I used to date, people who grew up with the Viking, people who have worked with me at some point or another. When I have a birthday I can certainly pull together a crowd, but on any given weekend I don’t have a set group of people I see.

I’ve always been a bit envious of people who have “a group”. Who spend their weekends with the same people. Who have a set of friends they’re close with, their best friends, their crew.

But it got me thinking – why would I need one? Among my friends I can count an amazing variety of people. We have engineers, historians, teachers, nurses, receptionists, students, and a lot of people who I have no idea what they do. I am incredibly blessed for the amazing people in my life, and never have a shortage of people to see.

A quick survey of my twitter told me I’m not alone. It seems a lot of us never fit in. Maybe that’s why we all blog? We’re still finding our own place. Our own little corners of the internet.

Maybe I’m a better person because I’ve never had a group. And yet, deep down, I think I still want one.

Were you in a group in high school? Which group were you? Do you have a group now? 


  • Vicky

    Never belonged to a group at school, probably had something to do with going to 14 different ones, don’t have a group now. Like you, I have a whole lot of friends, that I’ve met at different places at different times in my life. One of my favourite things to do is have a gathering, and watch all these individuals where th e only common denominator is me, interact.

    • http://tamsinhowse.com/blog Tamsin Howse

      I enjoy that too. I actually wasn’t going to have a birthday party one year and was contacted by people saying they wanted one because they only ever see each other at my birthday party.

      • Melissa Savage

        Oh I so understand this! I’m organising a girls lunch so all the ladies who met one another at our wedding can hang out. I’m also supposed to be sorting out play dates for some of their children who met and made friends at the wedding.

  • Kel

    I didn’t have a group as such when we lived in Brisbane, just lots of friends from lots of different parts of life. Now that we live in Sydney however I do have a group of friends and I love it. Instead of seeing lots of people for a little bit of time I now get to see all my friends all the time. I love turning up to social gatherings and seeing most of my friends.

  • http://explore.johnanthonyjames.com/ John James

    My group at high school was all the people who weren’t in groups…I wasn’t one of the cool kids, I wasn’t a bully, I wasn’t one of the dweebs or nerds…I was just not anything…

    I don’t have a group of friends now either – I’ve never wanted to – like Groucho Marx said, I don’t want to be part of a club that would have me as a member… 😉

  • Casey

    I’ve never really thought about it but I suppose I’ve always had a small core group of friends, with many individual friends as well. In high school I had a small group of friends, but I never thought of us as belonging to a certain label, like “nerds” or “cool” or whatever.

    When I lived in Melbourne (uni to mid-20s) I had a core group of friends I would spend most of my time with, but I also had individual friends who didn’t know each other. My friends are so wildly different because they all appeal to a different part of my personality, and the times that they’ve come together they didn’t really get along. I think I’ve always preferred one-on-one conversation than a huge group situation anyway.

    When I moved to Sydney, where I didn’t have any friends, I left that group dynamic behind. And I’m surprised to find out that I don’t really miss it. I have continued the pattern of having individual friends who don’t know each other though, which at this point just feels more ‘me’.

  • http://www.thelifeofclare.com.au The Life of Clare

    I feel as though I wrote this! You absolutely read my mind! In school I flittered between groups of people, and moving so much over the last 10 years has left me with friends all over the world. My parents have the closest group of friends and I often feel jealous of that. But thanks to you I’ve realised that I should just be thankful for those wonderful people I do know! Thank you!

    • http://tamsinhowse.com/blog Tamsin Howse

      Glad to have helped!

  • Michelle

    “People who grew up with the Viking” – proud to be a part of that group : D

    At my first high school, I was part of the “reject” group. There were seven classes making up the year group, and out of each class a reject or two ended up spending time in the library. We got friendly with each other and became our own cross-class group. I still count one of those girls as a best friend, 16 years later and continents apart.

    • http://tamsinhowse.com/blog Tamsin Howse

      See, I was never actually enough of a reject to fit in with the rejects either! Just… Floated

  • Melissa Savage

    I was a bit of a reject too – always too much of a loud, brash, know-it-all – so I spent a lot of lunchtimes reading in the library. When I got to about year 10 I made what I felt like were close friends for the first times because I stopped trying to hang out with the cool kids and made peace with being part of the ‘uncool’. It was great: we talked about books and watched movies and television and used pop culture references as the source of our totally witty repartee. No-one cared that I didn’t have the ‘right’ clothes, hair, makeup or body type.

    An added degree if difficulty for me was that I was at boarding school from grades 6-12. The boarders were split into ‘country girls’ and ‘Asians’ (that is totally racist I’m sorry, but this wasn’t like uni where we used euphemisms like ‘international students’). I was not really a country girl, as I lived in a town and later Canberra, and again I felt like an giant unlovable reject until about year 10 when I gave in and hung out with the ‘uncool’ people.

    Cut to two months ago and my friend Naomi (a boarding school friend) was a bridesmaid at my wedding. She gave a cute little speech about how we became friends at school because she was Asian and I was a nerd. Got a laugh because basically all of the friends who survived to see me get married (not to mention my husband) are nerds and schoolyard ‘rejects’ too.

    • http://tamsinhowse.com/blog Tamsin Howse

      As I said above, I was never enough of a reject to fit in with the rejects. I was never uncool, just not cool. I was… Outside the social order I think.

      • http://explore.johnanthonyjames.com/ John James

        I wonder if that’s something common to many of us (writers and readers) on KK&T – I wonder if that’s the type of community we’re building…not the cool kids, not the nerds, not the bullies…we’re a digital community of “floaters”…


  • Maree Talidu

    I wasn’t always the kindest of people and if I could go back, I’d be doing some serious apologising. There were the same 8-10 people in my group (boys & girls) for the majority of high school and mixing with everyone wasn’t high on the agenda. We mostly kept to ourselves and like I said, the only real time I got in to major trouble at school was for bullying someone- I’m extremely ashamed of my behaviour and attitude at the time because I copped my fair share of ‘teasing’ too, (too skinny, too gangly, glasses, braces etc, the usual) but by end of yr11 (after an amazing Yr11 camp that saw us really come together as a year group) I think we grew up alot and realised our time as a year group was limited, and we all mixed pretty freely. Barriers were broken. But I had the makings of a ‘mean girl’ and I absolutely am appalled that I treated people badly, purely because they annoyed me or were an easy target. That is NOT who I am, that is what a lot of teenage girls can BE, and I’m glad I grew up. Actually- I did some apologising at my 10 year reunion. If I could change all that, I would. As a high school teacher now, I draw on my experiences when dealing with all the crap that comes with the social ladder in the playground. I remind them that (from experience) tearing people down to make yourself feel better is never going to work, or picking on the annoying kid is potentially damaging in more ways than they will know.