Monday, November 22, 2010

Geeks and misfits

Hello. My name is Lisa, and I'm not cool.

What is more, I have never been cool. Not in grade school, not in high school, not in university... Even now, as a married, mortgage-paying, career-holding mom, I am still not cool.

I come from a whole family of not cool, actually. Although I could never quite pin down the cool status of either of my parents, I have a pretty good handle on my siblings. My older sister leans toward the goody two-shoes bookworm type of not cool. My brother is classic computer geek not cool. My younger sister is adorable and likable... but still not cool. I think she lacks the mean girl gene. I am just plain old loud not cool. I think that might be the worst kind.

When I was growing up, I wanted desperately to be cool. Many tears were shed on the subject, and I also devoted quite a bit of energy to pretending I didn't care. Sometimes I felt like I was getting close to being cool, like the Christmas that I recieved a velcro-closure binder from my sister as a present. Everyone, it seemed, had a velcro-closure binder at school except for me. When I opened my new binder, it was full of lined paper. On the very first sheet, my sister had written something to the effect of "A binder for Lisa, so you can be just like everyone else," with a smiley face next to it. I took that binder to school proudly. Then I learned it was not a Note Tote, and that is what the cool kids had. That was in sixth grade, and the memory is still vibrant.

However, when I look at my twenties, and the people I am gravitating towards, 'cool' is not the word I would use to describe them. Do you know what l33t sp34k is? What about WOW? Have you played a MUD? Spend many hours of your teenage years in your basement? I think I like you. Do you read research for fun? Sit in the front row at lectures? Volunteer for extra work? You are my kind of people. Do you spend more money investing in some obscure hobby than in your personal appearance? Do you frequently forget to put on make-up, and yet still have a detailed memory for the last six books you've read? We need to get together some time.

In books and movies, I am increasing drawn to the misfit characters, rooting enthusiastically for the underdog. I love to hear about other people's weird parents, social blunders and obsessive interests. Tell me about your inept dealings with the opposite sex. Spare no detail of your less than perfect family holidays. And maybe it's petty, but if you sailed through the social scene in high school with a perfect manicure, I really do not want to know. Skip to the tough time you had adjusting to life past Grade 12.

When I meet people now that I did not know in my teens, I always feel more comfortable with them when I find out they were in choir, or the school band, or the chess club. I love to discover that she wanted to learn to play the bagpipes, or that he spent the better part of a year trying to design a working hovercraft.

As I find I am drawn more and more to the uncool, the cool people are accordingly becoming less and less attractive. People who have a huge inter-mingling group of friends, who always have plans, who spare no time in bringing up whatever expensive brand-name thing they just bought... They make me nervous. If your hair is always in place, and your life follows suit, or at least you put a lot of effort into making it look that way, I get downright uncomfortable. And if you are more proficient at making excuses for following the crowd than you are at sticking to your guns with tenacious integrity... That's a deal-breaker. I'm sorry, but this is just not going to work out.

As much as I love the geeks and misfits of the world, though, I still have trouble loving the uncool in myself. I still catch myself chasing the cool. I am a little too proud of my lululemon yoga pants. I get too much satisfaction when the popular girl at work laughs at one of my jokes. I still feel unpretty when I walk past the trendy salon in the mall.

I am trying to let go of it. I want to be a genuine, driven, mindful, conscientious person. I want to be known for my intelligence, passion and integrity. These are things not so compatible with cool. And they aren't worth sacrificing.

But I'm keeping the yoga pants.


TeraLynn said...

Instead of focusing on "cool" and "uncool", choose to view everyone as unique - all blessed with different characters, gifts & talents and also very different interests... wouldn't it be boring if we were all the same? And if you look past the cool/uncool stereotypes you'll quite likely uncover all kinds of surprising things - perhaps a love of reading is shared with someone you never expected! I hope this doesn't sound completely and totally naive! :)

Anonymous said...

Speaking as your "not cool" brother, I love everything about this post :-)

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