High school has a way of sorting people into categories. It also comes during a very important phase of emotional development in our lives, and this sorting process helps us decide where we “belong” in the world. Fortunately or not, we carry this experience with us as we move forward and eventually find that “belonging” in any kind of “category” can be limiting.

The hierarchy of popularity is probably the most obvious example, and if you were lucky enough to be in the “in crowd,” you probably ended up with a good dose of confidence, at least in social circumstances. Later in life, the physical attractiveness you counted on for that popularity may no longer be there, or you may find that being likeable all the time is not really who you are.

Who you were in high school might be an important clue for limits you have today.
Who you were in high school might be limiting your potential today.

There is always a group of smart people who get the best grades and feel very comfortable developing themselves intellectually. If this group was less popular in high school then those people may feel some emotional scars from being rejected at some level. Intellectualizing life might be much easier than feeling the pain of emotional issues, but as those issues keep getting swept under the rug, they will eventually build up and start causing problems.

Some kids decide to rebel against the whole system, and they form groups as well. The rebel kids usually adopt the most shocking fashion statements of the time and try to convince people that they don’t care about fitting in. When it comes time to cooperate with other adults in a work environment or on a parenting journey, the solution to rebel may not work as well as it used to in high school.

And then there are the escape artists who congregate in secret places on campus to smoke or do drugs and numb themselves to the overwhelming social confusion of high school. Even if the drugs are a temporary solution and do not become a diagnosable addiction, people who choose to escape from emotional pain may later find themselves turning to food, wine, shopping or some other legal escape to find comfort.

There are plenty of other groups like the athletes, the actors, the artists, the student council, and the band, and most people can probably remember at least two groups in which they felt at home. If you are having struggles later in life, it is often helpful to take a look at who you were in high school and see if you are re-enacting those choices in a way that isn’t helpful.

In most cases, there is some kind of rejection involved with having to choose a group, because that means there are other groups who wouldn’t welcome you. Even the popular kids can be burdened with the need to be perfect, a sense of entitlement, or a pronounced fear of failure. They may also go through life taking popularity for granted and neglect to develop themselves in a more well-rounded way.

If you can identify high school as a place where your pattern started, the next step is to isolate any individual painful experiences that may have sent you looking for safety in one group or another. These events may have happened previously in grade school or maybe even at home, and resolving the pain in those events will help to break the pattern at is source.

I recommend EFT as a powerful DIY tool to clear individual events in the past, and you can find out how in my EFT DIY blog. If you prefer the faster, more powerful results with a professional, you can explore My Approach or contact me for availability.