January 17, 2012

How Cool Is Cool? Thoughts from a Recovered Betty

You wouldn’t know it now, but I had a thing for skater boys. When I really think about it, I have to admit it was probably because I liked the way they turned their feet in on their boards. All those foot positions made them look a little awkward and I found it ridiculously charming. Those long-banged boys also had great taste in music.

It’s funny how memory works, because when I think of skaters, I immediately revert to my teenage brain. I start categorizing people–straight-edge or partier. You either did or didn’t. You either spiked your hair or you scrunched it. You were a loser or you weren’t.

I was looking for a little danger at that age. I wanted to push the boundaries of everything. What I could and couldn’t say. How I should or shouldn’t dress. What I would or wouldn’t do. Standard adolescent growing pains. I was trying to figure out who the hell I was and I wanted to be someone that other people would think was cool. That was a very important word to me when I was in high school.

The cool factor is still important to me. I don’t like admitting it, but it’s the truth. I realize the word cool has taken on all kinds of connotations now–whether you’re an artist, a hipster or a nerd fantastic–everything is cool because advertisers want you to buy into the notion of cool. And what’s better yet? You get to be cool by association.Whether you want to associate with people who love vampires, tattoos, yoga or grass-fed beef. People identify with whom they identify because they’re trying to project a certain image on the world.

But are you really your identifications? No. They are small parts, but they do not create the whole. The whole of a person is nameless and larger than imagination. You are whatever you want to realize in any particular moment. Whether it’s heart-pounding joy or silent bliss, in any second of any given day, you can just be that expression of yourself.

The only thing standing in your way is you…and your desire to be something fleeting that will probably be irrelevant in the next ten years. Sure, everyone is on Facebook right now, but something else will come along. The media cannot completely replace the deep desire to be social. Humans are innately social creatures. They want contact. To approve and be approved of. To touch, to create.

The longing to be social is the same mindset that created the idea of being cool because at the end of the day, it creates order from chaos. People like to label other people, places and things. Oh, she’s single, writes on her trusty Mac Book Pro, listens to indie music and reads one book a week on average. Do you think you know me now? If so, then what do you think I’m reading? I don’t want to be defined by my personality’s characteristics, squished into a box that I colored in with an old number two pencil. I want to be an expression of the boundless child-like scribble I’m filled with on the inside. I want to be messy like that.

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