Am I ever going to feel like this again?
April 14, 2005 7:02 PM   Subscribe

7th grade camp, 8th grade graduation, Junior Retreat....and eventually High School graduation. All memorable events, which warranted horrible renditions of "In My Life" by the Beatles and a lot of sobbing by my fellow classmates*.

Am I ever again going to feel so connected to a large group of people such those in the situations above, and am I going to feel the same way when we all part and go our ways? Or is it a uniquely teenager phenomenon? If yes, then when?

*There are approximately 120 kids in the class, kinda small.
posted by michaelkuznet to Human Relations (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Am I ever again going to feel so connected to a large group of people such those in the situations above

posted by caddis at 7:07 PM on April 14, 2005

For a more in-depth study of this phenomena, see Stand by Me.
posted by caddis at 7:08 PM on April 14, 2005

Probably not, unless you join a religious cult or the military. Or are in the cast or crew of a theatrical production. Or take Ecstacy at a party. Or work for a political campaign. Or take an adult Outward Bound or NOLS course. Or start, staff, and fold a small business. Or are trapped with a large group of people due to some kind of disaster. So, probably.
posted by nicwolff at 7:13 PM on April 14, 2005

That sense of social connectedness gets even better in college, especially if you decide to go to a small school. Enjoy your school years while you can. After that, everything goes downhill.

"And even if you found yourself in some prison, whose walls let in none of the world's sounds - wouldn't you still have your childhood, that jewel beyond all price, that treasure house of memories? Turn your attentions to it." -- Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet.
posted by DaShiv at 7:31 PM on April 14, 2005

nicwolff wins.

Everything does go downhill... for a while. I think we all want to live on our own for ourselves when we first get out in the world. Then, you take on causes- like raising kids*, getting involved in charities and causes, politics, helping other people out, etc. All these things bond you in a special way to your colleagues and neighbors. It's not quite the same as high school or college, but in a way it is more rewarding.

(*If you raise your kids right, you get involved with the other kids in the community and their parents.)

There are chapters in your life that end, but new ones begin. Somehow, the void never lasts.
posted by Doohickie at 7:44 PM on April 14, 2005

Failing a small college, join a fraternity. I miss those bastards way more than the people from high school.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:47 PM on April 14, 2005

Find a tightly-knit group of friends, enjoy your youth with them, and then experience that feeling over and over again as they all slowly age and and find real jobs and mortgages and marriages and other such useless shit.
posted by cmonkey at 7:54 PM on April 14, 2005

I've done half of what nicwolff lists (but I ain't saying which half) and, yeah, that's about right.

Life's what you make of it. (He said, hoping to sound "deep" and mysterious.)
posted by waldo at 8:45 PM on April 14, 2005

Live in a co-op where everyone eats dinner together.
posted by Aknaton at 9:28 PM on April 14, 2005

Are you ever going to be in a highly stressful small group setting in which everyone else in the world in the enemy and everything is crap?

There are very very situations in adulthood that force togetherness like this.

Unless, of course, you work in something like advertising in which you get a team, you go through hell and everyone hates you until you win a Cannes Gold Lion.

I've heard indie film crews go through sort of the same thing if the director isn't an a-hole.

Some Burning Man camps? (Although I'd guess that Burning Man is getting too "easy" to illicit this kind of reaction.)

Putting yourself through hell with a small group of good people still seems like more trouble than it's worth, though.
posted by Gucky at 9:46 PM on April 14, 2005

Someone mentioned theater... it's also true of film and tv (both production and post-production), and most bands have it when they go on tour. Basically any worth-doing collaborative project feels like that at the end. It seems the casts of reality tv shows experience it too.
posted by xo at 9:55 PM on April 14, 2005

Doing theatre definitely does it. But for me its so intense I can't deal with closing-night parties. My first show I had to stop the car to cry, half way home, I was so depressed. It went away quick enough, but it blew me away. And its not like I liked half the cast that much!
posted by Goofyy at 10:17 PM on April 14, 2005

Am I ever again going to feel so connected to a large group of people such those in the situations above

No -- thank God. *shudder*
posted by kindall at 10:31 PM on April 14, 2005

Big time US university coaches take the team on a tour to Europe or similar. The bonding mentioned above is the reason. This was done on a once-every-four-years schedule, but I am not sure it is still a practice in an era of "jump to the pros".
posted by Cranberry at 10:43 PM on April 14, 2005

Actually some people never felt like this, as in "high school sucks and thank god I'm getting away from these freaks."

Hey can anyone remember the name of the movie where the last line was a voiceover saying "We loved each other because we were young"? Some army thing...
posted by missbossy at 11:51 PM on April 14, 2005

While you'll certainly feel solidarity/togetherness with groups of people again, I doubt you'll have that feeling triggered by a large group of people. Adult life tends to focus more on either work and a smallish group of friends or work and family. Note that most of the things listed above involve groups of people much larger than a high school grade [even a smallish one, like yours.] Bands, theatrical casts, fraternities, tightly-knit groups of friends, etc... all are smaller groups that you tend to have some sort of intimacy with. Parting with a large group of people, many of whom you don't like or know well, but who have all gone through the same experiences as you - not a situation most adults [barring, perhaps, members of the military] encounter frequently.

Teenagers, on the other hand, encounter this a fair amount... middle school graduation, high school graduation, and any number of retreats and summer programs in between. Whether it's due to "the way teenagers are" or simply the situations they find themselves in, it's probably hard to tell. I'd hazard a guess that it's both, although as missbossy points out there are some people that never felt that kind of solidarity with a large group. Certainly I didn't - high school graduation was simply another tedious hoop I had to jump through to go to college, and I was rather surprised to see so many people worked up - girls crying, kids telling others students they'd rarely talked to how much they'd miss them, etc.
posted by ubersturm at 5:27 AM on April 15, 2005

Oh, for heaven's sake, YES, you'll feel it again. Don't be so dramatic! But really, most people will get caught up in a tightly-knit group at several points throughout their lives, unless they're of a solitary nature, just prefer to be more socially distant, or are just plain unlucky.

And I would posit that people who really enjoy these collaborative webs of interaction with a closely bonded group tend to gravitate toward professions where that sort of atmosphere is the norm. Some I can name from my own experience: journalism; startups of any kind; summer camps; any of the creative professions such as art/design, advertising, media; outdoor education programs; bands; outdoor history museums; schooners and tall ships; theatrical groups; restaurants; volunteer initiatives, particularly brand-new ones; seasonal jobs such as those at ski resorts or summer tourist destinations...etc. Certain conditions (challenging goals, talented group of people, high pressure, unusual work environment, opportunity for creativity) tend to create and re-create the pattern. So for many people, these kinds of relationships may start and end with high school or college, after which they move into a quieter style of life which is more predictable. But if you're someone who is extroverted and has a high EQ, you will probably end up experiencing this again, though thankfully not all the time -- and you will certainly want to balance it with meeting your own needs and goals and maintaining your closest and most meaningful relationships.

So, don't panic. You may not feel quite as drippy about people as you move further down the road and realize how un-rare that kind of vibe is. Also, as you develop an ever stronger sense of your own personality and desires, you will not subsume yourself to the group and draw as much of your identity from it as you do now. But you will certainly feel this strongly about people in your life again in the future, especially if you choose to, and seek out those sorts of experiences. Really, you've just gotten a first taste of what's possible in the world of connection with other human beings. There's as much more to be had out there as you can handle.
posted by Miko at 6:45 AM on April 15, 2005 [1 favorite]

You may find that, as you age, your tastes regarding company change. I was very closely connected in high school. Now I love my privacy almost more than anything. I really do enjoy being alone with my projects.

Much of this connectedness is due to having a common enemy. What you have experienced is a mild version of what those in combat form. If you wish to seek this out, you will find it in a military unit that is deployed to battle.
posted by kc0dxh at 7:19 AM on April 15, 2005

If you felt that way then, it's possible you'll feel that way again provided you put yourself in group situations that would even make it possible.

But I don't really know because I've never felt that way about a large group of people, nor wanted to. I find that sort of group sentimentality somewhat chilling, and as nicwolff's superb response indirectly suggested, often associated with things of dubious merit.
posted by Decani at 10:59 AM on April 15, 2005

Neat-o. Thanks for your time, all ya old people leading your busy old people's lives :-P
I guess it came out more dramatic than I meant it to be, but the comments were priceless nonetheless. Also, in my original question, I meant that the horrible renditions were by members of my class, not the Beatles. Cheers!
posted by michaelkuznet at 3:07 PM on April 15, 2005

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