By Katie East
As a child, it was something people teased you with and usually caused a lot of contention within a group. Being the favorite, or hating the favorite, is a shared experience we all have. In the adult world, it’s something that’s not as obvious but still plays a part in our day to day.
I spent much of my life being the favorite. I don’t say this in a pompous way; being the favorite usually sucks. Sure, your parents are more likely to give you dessert or secretly bring you a little gift without telling the other siblings. Other than that, being the favorite means being the target of everyone else’s animosity; I’ve been on both ends of it.
I was always a hard worker in school. Though I didn’t make the best grades, I was involved in every extra curricular school activity and Vice President of every club. I was passionate, active and interested; teachers love that shit. It was hard not to make a few admirers along the way. I wasn’t a suck up and I was never the kid who reminded the teacher we had homework; even the teachers hate those kids. Still, I had my fair share of great connections with inspiring teachers.
For anyone who has been a teacher’s pet you understand the ridicule you receive by the hands of your fellow classmates. Your incessant interest and questions is why everyone else missed getting out of class five minutes early. Come on people, it is FIVE minutes! Who cares? If I was ever to stop an early dismissal with my enthusiasm for learning than the contempt might be warranted.
In college, I attacked my major with the same eagerness; most kids leave that back in high school. I was super active in LSU and professional Advertising clubs. My senior year I did the majority of the work for a semester-long class project I had been looking forward to for years. I spent a lot of time doing one-on-ones with the professors and one day they sat me down to explain the class was going to vote on the presenters instead of the teachers.
As they politely explained the reasoning we didn’t even dance around the fact that no one would vote for me. I, a theatre minor, likeable person, fantastic public speaker, and spearhead of the campaign would not be able to present my passion project. Why? The class hated me.
OK, not everyone hated me in the class. But, I was bossy and took the class very seriously. That never goes over well.
Instead of sitting silently at home during the presentation months later I was forced to sit in the audience by myself at the regional competition and watch. I, the over achiever, was up for a scholarship at the competition and had to fly with the team to Georgia to interview.
The “cool” kids of the class, who didn’t necessarily care about the project, made up the majority of the team. The one night we went out for drinks in Macon it became very apparent to me everyone in the class thought I was a “nerd.”
After making a pot reference on April 20th one of the presenters said to me: “Katie East. You DO NOT know what 420 means.” I laughed.
In high school it was pretty obvious who the popular party kids were and who was straight edge: I was the former. I guess in college if you cared about your career everyone just assumed you were uptight. I always loved bumping into those classmates at Tiger Bar to watch their brains explode upon witnessing my binge drinking and dancing.
I can’t really blame those presenters though; I was annoying. I’ve been on the other end of it enough to realize that. I’ve been the kid sitting in math class staring down the person who asked questions. I’ve been so jealous of my costars in high-school plays when I was sure they were the director’s favorite.
Being the favorite sucks. You live on an impossible pedestal that you accidentally put yourself on by being awesome. You’re always expected to be on point and live up to everyone’s expectations. People assume you will always perform because you set the standards for yourself so high.
This happens as adults too. Some days I get really annoyed that if I make a small slip up at work my bosses ask me “what’s your deal” while they let some employees bad habits slide for years without saying a word. Why? They expect greatness because they know my potential.
Parents, teachers and employers all grade on a sliding scale. Sure, they may play favorites, but that doesn’t mean they take it easy on the ones they like. In fact, they’re usually harder on them. So the next time your jealousy creeps up at work, take it easy on the favorite. It’s not easy being liked and it’s even less easy being successful.