The Cool Kids, The In Crowd (After High School)

Birds Of A Feather Flock Together~

One of the more visible developmental delays that can occur in those who have been groomed as a "Golden Child", and also those who have experienced trauma, abuse, and/or neglect in childhood including those who display certain personality disorder traits is a tendency to "flock" with others who are like themselves in very specific ways.

Exclusively gathering and interacting with ONLY those they feel comfortable with, and rejecting those who don't "fit in" with their crowd and group is a process that children go through in their development. When they go all the way through this process, they learn how to accept that others can be different from themselves but are still "okay", and that those who are not extremely similar to them are just as real, valid, and deserving of respect and civility.

They're learning how to interact and get along on their own in larger peer groups without adult supervision, and learning how to choose their own associates OUTSIDE the parameters that adults set for them, such as school, family, and neighborhoods.

IF they have not developed strong, healthy boundaries due to a lack of safe haven, a chaotic household, lack of healthy adult guidance, Golden Child treatment, or trauma beyond their family's control, a young person is likely to seek out other youths who "match" their own emotional profile more than they would have "normally", because it feels safe. They seek out those who may have similar emotional/psychological injuries and boundary weaknesses, because they feel like they "get" each other. Again, this is a normal developmental stage, but because of traumatic or abnormal experiences, it becomes exaggerated, magnified, and "stuck". Much of the time youths who gather for these reasons will help one another develop "shells" to protect themselves from the harsh world they live in. Since they're children, they are unlikely to know the difference between a "boundary" and a "shell", or a "wall".

When these youths grow to adulthood without healing their wounded and weakened boundaries (which is very common), they tend to stay in this developmental period, and don't process all the way through it to the other side. So they don't develop the ability to make acquaintances and friends with varying interests, different personalities, different backgrounds, or different points of view.

They tend to stay in the adolescent growth period where they only listened to certain music and connected with only people who also listened to that certain music. Or only people who played SPORTS, or who played the same sport, or who were "into" Major League sports. They might have only hung out with people who were into the same social groups, or were in a similar wealth or poverty position. They might have only gathered with people who dressed the same, or had a similar body type. Many kids go through this stage including only the same sex in their group, and excluding the opposite sex, as if they are different tribes or even species.

Adults who remain in this stage remain in the "Us vs. Them" period. "We" are the good ones, the cool ones, the strong ones, the ones who get it, and "They" are the others; anyone who doesn't fit in with "us".

Unfortunately, this "Us" crowd often involves destructive behaviors and unhealthy beliefs and intentions. Members of a group may be "bonding" on things such as hostility toward others, self-righteousness over others, privilege over others, entitlement, racial or gender supremacy, crime, corruption, and oppression. 
They may be bonding on things such as shame, guilt, emotional injury, rejection, ostracism, but instead of helping one another heal, they may instead "help" each other self-destruct, or cause harm to others.

This developmental stage is when we are learning to interact with others civilly and productively, and find our own companions without adult supervision and parameters. If a person has not grown and processed through this stage, then they're still in it, and have not finished learning what they would have learned. It also means that their boundaries are probably not strong enough to interact with others who don't "match" them closely enough. So the 40 year-old "jock" does not know how to interact with those who are not also "jocks", and feels uncomfortable around those who aren't "jocks". The 55 year-old "punk rocker" will feel uncomfortable around those who aren't also "punks". Many who are stuck in this stage only think of those of the same sex as being "real" or "like me", and don't actually have real platonic friends/buddies of the opposite sex. They may be stuck in racial prejudices. They may feel very uncomfortable any time they're "out of their element", even when others around them are quite polite and kind. They often "don't like" those who seem too "different" from them, just like kids of Junior and Senior High School age who are going through this stage.

Processing through this stage as an adult can be difficult, because it often means maturing past the level that many of the people in one's "crowd" are at. However once one becomes aware of this developmental delay in one's self, it's natural to grow and mature through it. It's a matter of becoming "unstuck"; once the growth begins again, the person can really flourish, and will be very uncomfortable if someone is trying to hold them back. 

 By M.M.Black ©2013