Home > Teddy Bear Diary > [October, 1992] The Survivor Crowd

[October, 1992] The Survivor Crowd

Friday, October 3, 1992

Dear Journal,

Hozumi said something today that really stayed with me. You see Joyce has had a crush on this guy Rodrigo since seventh grade. He is sort of “popular.” Hozumi calls that the “survivor crowd.” They are not really “popular” because then we would all like them. But we don’t. Anyway she said that it really sucks liking someone from the survivor crowd because they can never go out with you because you are not a survivor.

(but sometimes you do)

That is exactly the way it is with me, except Joyce is thin, pretty and talented (although she is really down on herself, which pisses me off!) and I’m just Blah!

Reed (on the bus, sometimes) is a “meatal-head.” His father died a while ago. Hozumi is also a “meatal-head” (It’s not an insult or anything). Her father is an alcoholic (she admitted it in Art). I think that this whole thing (the music, the clothes…) aside from they might like it, I think it’s an escape. From reality I suppose. They are kind of lucky, though because they have this sort of façade and everybody leaves them alone. Nobody knows what they are really thinking or anything. It’s not that they don’t have friends, they have their own group, but mostly their life is kept secret unless they want to reveal something. It’s the same with everybody else but at the same time it’s different.

I am pretty unhappy right now. I feel lazy and apathetic. I don’t really think it’s just a phase, either. I am just feeling really hopeless right now. The only time I don’t feel that way is when I’m distracted somehow, or I’m laughing. Putting my feelings in writing helps though. If I had no mode of expression I (God forbid) might do something rash. I wish things were different. I better go to sleep now. I always feel better in the morning.

Despite my inability to spell always spell “metalhead” correctly, I was fascinated with this small subculture at Hunter (who, for the record, listened to hardcore, punk, and other genres besides metal). They were outcasts, but at the same time they had their own microcosm to exist in, even their own hallway at school. I wasn’t freak enough for the freak hallway, but felt out of place among the rest of my peers and dissatisfied at the idea of being ordinary. While I had a handful of friends at school, I still felt unpopular and uncomfortable in my skin. I think many of us felt that way. Joyce certainly did, though I couldn’t understand why. I guess it wasn’t my place to understand her.

“Survivors” was a term referred to the core group of kids left over from Hunter Elementary School who attended the high school (and didn’t have to test to get in). They were usually wealthy and attractive kids and formed the root of the “popular” crowd. It was easy to feel diminished by their elitism, but when you don’t like yourself, it’s easy to feel diminished by anything and anyone. The truth is, I never really knew the “survivors” and could only imagine that they were more fortunate, their lives somehow better. In actuality, we all had aspects of our lives that were kept secret, we all had our battle scars. And maybe some were blessed with more looks, money, talent, or brains, but we were all trying to survive a challenging academic environment and the trials of adolescence.

I wish I could go back and tell my fourteen-year-old self that things would be immeasurably better in later years, but at the time, it didn’t feel that way. And besides, new struggles have a way of replacing the old ones and I had to learn coping mechanisms somehow. Difficulty and depression come and go; the best we can hope for is a strong spirit and plenty of endurance.

In a sense, we were all part of the survivor crowd back then. And we all still are today.

  1. August 10, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    I was so confused by “meatal-head.” At first, I was thinking that they were punk kids that shared a deep love for Meat Loaf. Completely logical when I first read this.

    • damiella
      August 10, 2010 at 1:28 pm

      I thought about editing the typo, but kept it in for a bit of levity.

  2. Francie
    August 11, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Dead-on, again. I had my locker in the freak hallway for one year. It wasn’t really me, I was in between too. Things did get better, and I remember both the bad times and the good times with a surprising amount of fondness.

    • damiella
      August 11, 2010 at 10:20 am


      It took a while for the fondness to kick in, but rereading the diary entries (especially the later Hunter years) reminded me that there were plenty of good times, too.

      (Also, how great is the Elena Kagan news?!)

  3. Francie
    August 12, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    I know! I feel oddly proud… I look forward to reading from “the later Hunter years.” I’ve been making myself crazy trying to guess who your code names are for. Don’t worry, I have no clue!

  4. Liz
    August 25, 2010 at 6:06 am

    In my grade we called them “the clique.” Any time I mentioned them to a non-Hunterite, I’d have to explain that they were not exactly popular, in the sense that after 7th or 8th grade, they kind of became the butt of a lot of jokes, and it’s not like the rest of us wanted to be them…yet they did have power in school, since they often ended up being the captains of the sports teams, presidents of “cool” clubs, editors of the yearbook, etc.
    Incidentally, when I was in 7th grade I was afraid of the 8th grade “meatal-heads!” Ironically, years later one of the only people I kept in touch with is the person you are calling Hozumi, since we became friends a few months before your graduated.
    As for me, I sort of morphed over time to fit into different groups, from preppy to freak, to something else I guess…very high school of me. 😉

  1. March 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm

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