It was Bill Gates who said “Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll be working for one,” and that has never been truer. A new study by the University of Virginia found that the cool kids in high school were actually most likely to be maladjusted and incompetent as adults.
The study followed 175 teens from the southeastern United States over a decade as they grew from adolescence to adulthood from the age of 13 to their early 20s. Joseph Allen, the study lead, explained that peers often characterized the popular kids as the ones who:
“…date; they go to fast parties; they get in minor forms of trouble that people associate with adolescence, [such as] vandalism, shoplifting and truancy; they care more about appearances.”
By the time they were in their 20s, those same kids were described as “uncool, and even socially incompetent.” Why? Because the same social traits that led them to be popular in high school simply never work in the real world.
So what does matter when you are in high school according to Allen?
“It’s not a life sentence for teens. I’d describe the cool track as a dead end [for] kids who stay on it. [Those who] continue to seek popularity by trying to act cool, rather than learning to be a good friend [or] honest are indeed going to have trouble. But one can get off this track at any time.”
So what of the nerds, geeks, and socially awkward people in high school? Our theory is that they grew up to be successful, possibly high functioning sociopaths