Hello, Zennies! Today we want to talk to you about the lasting impact of cliques. To be honest, many of us had our own little circle of friends during our school years, but once we graduated and started to build our lives, we started to seek different relationships for different reasons. Some friendships developed due to career goals, or maybe we became close with the parents of our children’s friends. As we matured, our needs changed and so we evaluated the people we could potentially have relationships with based on our needs. However, there are many people who continue to seek relationships in the exact same manner as they did in high school. Here we want to look at the “in crowd” vs. the “out crowd.” Now we all know what the characteristics of the in crowd are good looking (but not always), usually affluent (subjective to environment), sociable, active, likable, and admired. The out crowd is just the opposite, not particularly attractive, not especially affluent (again this is subjective to environment), not sociable, somewhat disliked, and not admired, usually ridiculed. As people mature it is possible that some develop and change crowds completely, hence you have the shy awkward high schooler who grows into the handsome or beautiful person and becomes popular and sought after. We’ve all seen this occur. We’ve also seen instances where the most popular guy or girl in high school fail to achieve as adults all that their adolescent promise suggested. But have you thought about the lasting impact of developing a self-identity that categorizes people as belonging vs. not belonging? All too often we encounter adults who are intelligent, sensitive, insightful people who have achieved a great deal for themselves and yet they perceive themselves as misfits. Or those who shun relationships due to fear of rejection because they came to believe that others were dangerous and could not possibly like them as they are because they feel as if they are not good enough. In contrast, you have those who are not mature at all. They are forever seeking that “in crowd” status. They categorize everything and everyone as “cool” or “not cool.” These people often have friendships and relationships with people they don’t even like but are convinced these relationships add to their social reputation, so they engage in them. They also tend to miss out on beneficial relationships because they have a restricted view of who is supposed to belong to a group. We are not saying that everyone is like this, but we ask you to do a little social experiment of your own. Pay attention to the cliques that form at work, in your neighborhood or even at your place of worship. Make note of what you see. Lastly, we want to add that everyone has unique gifts and talents, so we all have value. Don’t to be afraid to get to know someone who’s a little different from you. You may be surprised, and you just may make a new friend!