The Week Barack Obama Made Me The Most Popular Girl In Town

I wasn’t incredibly popular in high school.

I had a few close friends and a lot of acquaintances but I wasn’t, say, cheerleader status.

Although now that I think about it, one of my best friends was on the Pom-Poms squad so that friendship surely benefited me in the long run. I was able to vicariously hang on the fringes of the more popular groups that included athletes and “cool” kids.

In Facebook lingo I’m guessing this is the equivalent of “friend of friend.”

However, I was always aware that there is a huge difference between the fringes of popularity and being the center of it all.

This “fringe” status meant that I was neither shunned nor embraced.

But in the weird, hierarchal, social world of high school this worked just fine for me. I never would have been allowed attend the events/parties/gatherings of the “cool” kids; so, being on the fringe allowed me to quasi-run with the pack without having to be embarrassed by the rules of my home.

It was a win-win situation.

Recently, however, I was able to discover what the world of popular people is really like. And I’m here to tell you it is pretty heady stuff.

With my oldest son graduating from the University of Michigan and Barack Obama being the keynote speaker, I quickly became the most popular girl in town! Friends I never knew I had came out of the woodwork to fawn over me because I was holding eight, count ‘em eight, precious tickets to the most highly anticipated event in the state.

At 51 years old I had finally attained cheerleader status!

In keeping with the six degrees of separation philosophy (sometimes referred to as the “Human Web”), being my close friend put anyone in very real proximity to Obama—even if that person was sharing a stadium in which more than 100,000 people would be packed.

And apparently there are a great many people who cherished just such a spot.

My own political and religious views of Obama as speaker aside, this experience made me deeply conscious of how easily it is to succumb to fame and popularity— even when it is neither deserved nor pursued.

In the midst of all this I began creating a Facebook page. I’ve been told I need to do this to be part of the ever-growing world of social networking and as a publisher it is the way in which I can market the excellent Catholic books that I’ve published — which I believe in my heart deserve all the attention they can get.

So here I am, trying to maneuver my way around Facebook, and I’m getting all sorts of “So-and-so wants to be your friend” messages in my inbox every day. I feel very “wanted” until I see that this person has 1,037 friends and that person has 593 friends and I realize I only have 17.

In my mind 17 friends is a nice amount of friends but apparently I am terribly wrong!

Great, I think to myself, Facebook provides one more opportunity for me to be on the fringe. Just what I need!

I continue to fret because there are so many popular people on Facebook and I don’t know how I will ever be able to compete. Should I let everyone on Facebook know I have tickets to see Obama? I am positive that will increase my amount of FB friends.

I want to be popular even when I know that popularity, no matter what the cause, at some point is bound to give every recipient a false sense of self. And no one is immune — unless he or she practices constant humility and other virtuous behaviors.

This is why St. Paul welcomed the knowledge and presence of his weaknesses and shortcomings — they made him always aware of his need for Christ. Let’s face it, it is difficult to be pursued and receive constant accolades and not let it go to your head. Someone whose very business puts them in this sort of spotlight on a day-to-day basis, even the best among us, is bound to be affected and to some degree begin to believe the hype of having 2,048 FB friends.

But let’s get back to me…

So here I am, with access to eight tickets to graduation and I’m hearing from people that I haven’t heard from in ages. People are contacting me and my status is increasing with each passing day! At first I have to laugh but after a while it becomes almost pleasing.

I may be the oldest cheerleader around but I like being liked. Who doesn’t?

But the gnawing in my stomach won’t subside. Somehow I know that once the tickets are handed out — the decisions made on who will hold the coveted pieces of paper that allow access to the most popular event in the state of Michigan in a very long time — I will just go back to being plain old Cheryl Dickow.

I will once again be a “nobody” in just about everybody’s eyes — except for Christ’s.

In Christ’s eyes I am someone.

I am someone who has a journey and a purpose and even when I no longer hold tickets to that highly prized event, Christ will love and cherish me. I am a star in Jesus’ eyes regardless of how many FB friends I acquire or how many Linked In connections I make. Fortunately for me, Jesus tweets through the hardcover Bible sitting on my desk.

I realize that no matter how old I am, I can still be a cheerleader for Christ.

And for all that I am incredibly grateful.

Cheryl Dickow

By

Cheryl Dickow is a Catholic wife, mother, author and speaker. Cheryl’s newest book is Wrapped Up: God’s Ten Gifts for Womenwhich is co-authored with Teresa Tomeo and is published by Servant (a division of Franciscan Media); there is also a companion journal that accompanies the book and an audio version intended for women’s studies or for individual reflection. Cheryl’s titles also include the woman’s inspirational fiction book Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage. Elizabeth is available in paperback or Kindle format. Her company is Bezalel Books where her goal is to publish great Catholic books for families and classrooms that entertain while uplifting the Catholic faith and is located at www.BezalelBooks.com. To invite Cheryl to speak at your event, write her at Cheryl@BezalelBooks.com.

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  • Cooky642

    Congratulations on your son’s graduation! I hope it’s a beautiful day for him–and you–and he is able to celebrate the realization of his dreams. I will pray for him on Saturday, that his degree will help him to hear God’s call on his life and give him the strength and courage to follow that call.

    Please don’t take this the wrong way, but you also have my sympathies. It’s a rotten shame that your son’s big day has to be marred by a so-called Commencement Address by Mr. Obama.

  • Cheryl Dickow

    Cooky642,

    I’m not offended–I’m counting on your sympathies to cover us in prayer!!

    Blessings,
    Cheryl

  • Heidi

    Cheryl, I absolutely love your description of thinking of 17 as being a nice number of friends… except on FB. I’m with you. FB is more like a wedding where truly, every friend you’ve ever had shows up and sits next to each other at the same table! It’s a good test, however, to see if you are you in every social setting, or if you play the popularity game differently among different groups; differentiation, of course, being the more natural way for any of us to promote and preserve our own popularity. It’s a new world of communication, that’s for sure, welcome aboard, Friend.

  • http://www.livecatholic.net/ mklatt

    “So here I am, trying to maneuver my way around Facebook, and I’m getting all sorts of “So-and-so wants to be your friend” messages in my inbox every day. I feel very “wanted” until I see that this person has 1,037 friends and that person has 593 friends and I realize I only have 17.”

    Cheryl, I think you are mistaking what the word “friend” in Facebook really means. Instead of thinking of it as people you really know, like, see occasionally, etc. Think of a Facebook friend as a “Connection.” A person or group you might find interesting to connected with.

    So first you have family members, close or distant, and actual friends. Then you might have people from church you like, co-workers, online acquaintances, a priest whose stuff you have read, an author you like, a company you like that may give away coupons or let you know about a new product, or a group you want to belong to. You might have a blog or website you follow that posts updates online like LiveCatholic (ahem) or American Papist or even…Catholic Exchange.

    Once you think of it this way it makes more sense. And since you can control what people see once they are your “friend” and what you see of what they post you can relax and enjoy it. There are some people who I really am not interested in being their friend, but I know they would be very hurt/offended if I refused their offer of “friendship” so I turn off what I see of them and cut off my posts to them. They probably have lots of friends and they’ll forget I’m there. I think the last time I looked I had 99 “friends” and assorted groups and that is fine. I don’t care what the number is.

    Congrats to your son on his graduation!

  • patti

    I love this article. It’s so clever and to the point. I have one graduating today. Oh, the excitement!

  • momof5

    Cheryl
    I really enjoyed this piece and as it is with us so frequently, connected with what you were saying. We had ‘his highness’ speak at ASU last year and it was all the buzz. Thankfully he is not speaking at my sons graduation from U of A.
    I offer you congrats on your sons graduation and lots of prayers to have to sit there and listen to the rhetoric.
    On a good note however, we can now become FB friends too and I can look you up and you can add one more number to your growing roster. :-)
    Keep up the articles, I so enjoy connecting with them as it confirms in me so many times that my struggles and frustrations, joys and pains, are not unique but shared among women everywhere.
    Barb

  • Joe DeVet

    The only decent thing to do is to touch a match to all 6 that you and your husband won’t need!

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