The 1985 classic movie The Breakfast Club focused on high school cliques and how people struggle to be individuals within the confines of their groups. In 25 years, not much has changed. But now, there's new focus on what becomes of those tortured teens when they grow up.
Alexandra Robbins, best-selling author, has released the findings of her semi-scientific study in "The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth." Robbins (pictured at left) proposes in what she calls, "Quirk Theory," the idea that the very traits that make students outsiders in high school will be beneficial to them as adults.
Robbins followed seven high school students from around the U.S. for a year, learning of their trials and tribulations within their groups, dealing with still-developing emotional awareness, and plain old teenage gossip. All of them were some kind of outsider, even the popular girl who didn't feel like she completely fit in.
She found that kids who considered themselves outsiders but held fast to their identities, won out in the end.
"People who are true to themselves, no matter what that does to their social status, are more self aware, more secure, and ultimately more confident," she told AOL Jobs.
A Floater Grows Up
Robbins labeled herself a "floater," one who bounced between different groups in high school without being fully embraced by one. As the author of three New York Times bestsellers, she is clearly successful, but still fits her "Quirk Theory," since she still remained somewhat of an outsider.
"While that meant a lot of lonely weekend nights for group-less me in high school, my floaterhood has enabled me to relate to several different types of students, which has been crucial to my books," she said.
Geeks vs. Geekettes
While the unofficial king of geeks might be Bill Gates, Robbins says being a geek and likely future success doesn't have a gender gap. All three of the women she followed identified themselves as geeks, she says. In celebrity circles, people like Angelina Jolie, Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga all considered themselves outsiders in high school
"I think a lot of women identify as geeky without being geeks, simply because of the gender gap in the tech field," she said. "For example, I don't have the tech expertise to be called a straight-up geek, but I am, for example, a 'Star Wars' geek."
When it comes to high school reunions, many people crash diet to look younger and count the days until they hope to see a former Big Man on Campus having turned fat and gone bald. But Facebook has put people back in touch, with a shared high school experience as the main memory, and selective memory banishing cliques as a distant adolescent coping mechanism. (This reporter seconds that notion.)
|Yes, and proud of it!||276 (74.2%)|
|Yes, unfortunately.||29 (7.8%)|
|No way!||67 (18.0%)|
Robbins does admit that tolerance and open-mindedness can develop with age.
While she found that cliques still existed at her 10-year reunion, having recently attended a 20th, this reporter can attest to having had a great time, as well as an opportunity to reconnect and network with all the social strata of the past.
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