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But my response seemed so completely obvious that it took me a while to really latch onto the underlying message in it: I'm hardly cool, I'm just getting more comfortable letting my freak flag fly. The older I get, the more I realize that everyone has their own brand of weird.
I talk a lot about my social presence and how "cool" or "uncool" I consider myself to be/have been. I read somewhere, once, that you can tell if a person is uncool by the way they will reference "what the cool kids are doing." I think I make a conscious effort to do this as my means of overcompensating my position in the Cool Club.
If you know me, you are well aware that overcompensate should be my middle name. If I am uncomfortable- I will overcompensate in every awkward way possible. "Oh, you thought that joke was funny? WAITTILYOUHEARTHISONE!" and "Oh, you don't want to date me? Let me set you up with 5 of my best friends and then let's TALK about it so you know how sooo comfortable I am with the concept." Why do I do this? Not a clue. I like to think it's endearing, but I suspect it comes off as really, really creepy.
As I meet more and more people, and discover that we all have these same insecurities and imperfections, I feel better about my own. I believe it's good to know that nobody is perfect, and that we all have these little eccentricities that make us unique and flawed and therefore: beautiful. If we lived in a cookie cutter world, I don't think anybody would be REALLY very happy. The people who are forever trying to "keep up" don't seem, to me at least, to ever settle into themselves enough to enjoy their lives.
People are going to try to compartmentalize and pigeonhole you your entire life. They tell you how you ought to act, think, feel, and behave. I have battled with this as long as I can remember. I've had people tell me to be less forgiving, more monetarily-driven, more outgoing, LESS outgoing... etc. When people tell you who to be, it's a reflection of their own insecurities transferring onto you. It's easy to criticize someone else's shortcomings It's a lot harder to recognize and work on your own.
The greatest gift you can give somebody is your own personal development. I used to say 'If you take care of me, I'll take care of you.' Now I say 'I will take care of me for you, if you take care of you for me.' -Jim Rohn.
I love this quote. It might be my new favorite.
What I think it amounts to is: Be Yourself. And Be Yourself for YOU. Don't try to fill someone else's mold for you, because you'll only be their version of you, and not your own. I encourage people to challenge me, but at the end of the day I am always going to be me for Me, and nobody else. I have my brand of weird- maybe you like it, maybe you don't. And I'm okay with that. Because I know that you've got your weirdness too, and you should be okay with THAT.
I used to try so hard to be this person that everyone would like and accept. And I never really felt at home in myself, until I began to disregard what I perceived as "social norms." I'm so much more comfortable with myself now that I'm not trying SO hard to fit in. Because the secret is: There is no "In." There are no "norms" anymore. There is run-of-the-mill, and there is Different. And being different is cooler than any amount of "cool" that someone wants to file you into.