One of the odder side-effects of growing up as a geek or a nerd is that we frequently develop an almost atavistic response to popularity. Popularity is for the “cool kids”, the jocks and the Queen Bees who made our lives hell growing up. As a result: we tend to look askance at people who’re popular… even when we secretly crave it ourselves.
And that craving is totally understandable. Humans are social animals. As much as we may lionize the rugged individualist, the fact of the matter is that we need other people in our lives – not just relationship partners but friends and family members, even casual connections. Lone wolves make for romantic images of someone who’s too cool for everyone else, but in reality, those are the wolves that’ve been kicked out of the pack because they’re detrimental to the survival of the group as a whole.
Popularity and social ties help ground us, give us a sense of identity and even a sense of safety and support that helps us bridge the difficult times. Social connections are necessary for our emotional and physical health, as well as any benefits we may get to our to our romantic or professional lives. Hell, being around people makes us happier, regardless of whether we’re introverts or extroverts.
Popularity is also a frequent marker of social and emotional intelligence, which are attractive traits in others. We admire people who are popular and want to be closer to them because we want to share in the value that they can bring into our lives. After all, someone who has a large social circle tends to be good at managing complex relationships, providing value to others and generally making people feel good – all traits that we look for in friends and partners.
But popularity isn’t about just being into all the right hobbies and liking all the right things. It’s not about being the “coolest” person in school, at work or the club. It’s about building relationships and knowing how to bring people together; showing how awesome you are and recognizing the awesomeness in others.
Here’s how to be more popular and build your social circles.