Geeks, preps, nerds, townies, grungers, goths, chavs, bimbos, jocks, punks, popular, brains. We all acquire a label in high school. Labels are used as a way to categorize a group with some form of shared characteristics. Some spend many years embracing their stereotype while others try to distance themselves from it.
For adolescents, high school is a paramount foundation in a period of their lives. It’s pretty hard to run away from the stereotypes and labels associated with high school experience. However, some high school labels, stereotypes and labels are fun, we just can’t scoff off the psychological issues that arise from them.
The Five Different Personalities in The Breakfast Club
John Hughes focuses on a different look at labels and stereotypes. He breaks down the mask of some of the infamous labels in high school. The film focused on the relationship between the stereotype and the true identity of the characters.
In The Breakfast Club, on one lazy Saturday, five different personalities, each safe in their identity and yet filled with insecurities, are confined to detention at Shermer High School in Shermer, Illinois for a variety of violations.
Throughout the movie, you are introduced to different characters including the princess, the rebel, the brain, the freak and the jock. The teacher in charge of the students, Mr. Vernon, unwittingly assigns an essay to the students titled ‘Who am I?’. We get to see the students begin to rebel against Mr. Vernon as the movie progresses. Each character has a troubled life which is foreshadowed by their presence in detention. The film brings forth the different personality each has.
During the scene where the five characters are talking and confessing what led to their detention, we clearly see what’s behind the stereotypes of each character. We are ushered into the characters’ labels and the kind of ideas everyone had of each other.
Brian, the brain is considered to have the perfect grades and family life. Andrew, the jock is thought to be unintelligent and less smart compared to the rest. Claire, the princess, is considered conceited and pretentious. Allison, the basket case, is termed as crazy and weird. Finally, there is Bender, the criminal who portrays a troubled child who is just rebellious.
The scene brings forth the idea of labels and stereotypes and focuses on debunking them. Common to most high school students, each character freaks at the ideas of breaking from their respective labels. If you are a townie, it’s expected for you to behave as such and not associate with another caliber of students who do not measure up to the standards that define your clique.
Claire displays this clearly in the movie when she explains how she will ignore her fellow detainees later. Her image doesn’t associate with the basket cases, and brains and she has to live up to the standard. Brian must also live up to his brain label, and people can’t find out that he is failing woodshop. The film perfectly highlights the undue pressures created by the high school labels.
The Breakfast Club also touches on the topic of pressure in high school. Brian was detained because of possessing a gun that accidentally went off. We are meant to understand that he was planning to shoot himself because of his failing grade. As a brain, Brian is under so much pressure to maintain passing grades, and that’s what identifies them.
The Breakfast Club is one movie that perfectly highlighted the struggles high school students pass through regarding pressure and stereotypes. It also narrows it down to some of the drastic measures some of the students take since they feel they have no other option. It reiterates on the fitting-in struggles that high school students experience and the importance of labels in the high school setting.
How can Labels Help Your Personal Brand?
Are you a geek? A jock? A nerd? An otaku? A writer? An accountant? A football fan? When it comes to personal branding, most often than not people would want to distance themselves from those high school labels and stereotypes as much as possible.
High school labels have been marred by negativity and should, therefore, be taken with a grain of salt. However, some of the labels might just work to your advantage when you are out of high school and start hitting the road looking for a job.
Personal branding can also be defined as identity or how we define ourselves. It’s a culmination of our values and interests, what we do, what we love, how we see ourselves and what gives us validation. It’s how we market ourselves to the world. Sometimes, your personal brand is how other people think about you which in a way is beyond your control but have some influence over it.
As you interact with other people, they automatically form mental associations that connect you with certain labels. Unfortunately, you just can’t avoid being labeled and other people can’t avoid labeling you. The labels that people attach to you become part of your personal brand.
How do you then take advantage of the labels?
It’s unbelievable that one would think that stereotypes and labels can be of any good to your personal brand. With social media, it’s hard to run away from the old stereotypes, as we connect with some old schoolmates who remind us of those old times. If you can’t run away from it, why not take advantage of it then?
The point is when you want to give a true representation of your personal brand, you will need to make it relatable. Which calls for you to identify with a stereotype, and chances are, they’re thinking about labeling you when you first present yourself.
By extension, our personal brand is illustrated by how we identify with and our interests. For instance, when you identify as a geek, a nerd, an otaku or a gamer, you are identifying yourself not just by your interests but are also aligning yourself to other nerds, geeks, gamers or otakus. When you say you are a geek, it means that part of your identity is made up of the popular stereotypes of geeks, a love of gadgets and sci-fi/fantasy pop-culture. This is how you represent yourself to the world and can be backed up by your school mates who considered you that.
Some of these labels make your resume stand out and they might just be some of the core competencies and strengths your prospective employer is looking for in a candidate.
If you fail to emphasize your core skills and key strengths specific to the job you are targeting, then you are failing to brand yourself effectively. It’s all in the packaging and ensuring that you identify your brand message and promote yourself around that concept so you can compete with the best of them and negotiate your buying price.
If you identify yourself as a jock, or sports fan, use this to your advantage. You may know all of the current stats of the best players and can talk about the trends in sports. Maybe a career in sports management, or sports radio is the career for you. Use your personal brand to find your passion and work with it when searching for a new career.
Some of the negative labels might not be the best for your career, but you ride on them and prove that in as much as people associate you with a certain stereotype, you are more than it. Identify the assumptions that go along with some labels and get ahead of them.
For instance, while I am a townie, and I wear nice clothes and drive the best of cars, I am also extremely hardworking, and that has been the case from such a young age. If you were a popular, a cheerleader in the high school team then it shows how a great team leader you are which might help you stand out from your competitors.
It’s up to you to manage your career.
Not everyone has the luxury of having someone else manage their career for them. Thus you must do what you can to effectively brand yourself. Everybody has that degree, but do they have a unique personality? Does your high school label make you look a lot better than your competitors?
When building your personal brand, it’s all about what adds value. Your brand is analogous to a company or a patent you own. You should, therefore, work on building it so that you can be proud of who you are and what you offer.
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