Monday, March 7, 2011

On Coolness.

So I wish that I could say I don't care about looking cool.  Or being cool.  Or anything about "cool".  But that would be a big fat lie.

So I will just say, that it's something I'm working on, and thinking about, and considering...  a lot.

I wonder where it comes from.  This...desire to fit in.

First of all I realize that our society, most societies, find it convenient for the general populous to have a desire to "fit in".  To "be cool".  Every advertisement is catered to something about being cool or looking cool or fitting in with a cool crowd at some level.  They play to our desire to be loved and adored.  It's how they work.  And I'm not saying that advertisers are evil - in fact, they're just doing their job, and they are good at it.  It works.  The companies make more money, and that's the point of business.

I don't fault the advertisers.  I fault us for going for it.

For giving in.

Giving in to the cool factor on so many things, at so many levels.

I care so much about what people think of me.

It's pretty pathetic, honestly.

Here's an example:

Last Thursday I was driving to the Thursday Night Supper Club, which is my women's Bible study and it was beginning to rain.  A very light rain.  Nothing torrential.  Just the beginnings of rain.  There was enough for water to have pooled in the street, and some of the water was splashing onto the windshield.  I thought about turning my wipers on while sitting at a stop light - but before I did that I looked around to see what all of the other drivers were doing.  Were their wipers on?  How fast were their wipers going?  What would people think of me if I turned my wipers to this speed now?

Insanity, right?

Is it?

Why did I care AT ALL what the other drivers were doing?  I should do what I needed to do and forget what they thought - because really, they didn't care AT ALL about me.  So I turned them on to the speed I needed and tried to forget about the other drivers.  I admit it STILL crossed my mind - even after all that.  Even after telling myself that it didn't matter.  I continued to think about it.  Insane.

Why does this happen?

I remembered, as I thought about it and continued driving, the my driver's ed teacher said once "If your not sure if it's dark enough to use your headlights yet, look around and see what the other drivers are doing.  If some of them have their headlights on, turn yours on too."  Apparently we can't think for ourselves.  Apparently, it's important to "do what everyone else is doing".  Maintain the status quo.  Don't do anything "weird".

I have done a lot of things in my life for which I have received criticism.  My hair cut.  The way I raise my children.  The way I taught when I was in the classroom.  The language I have used.  My political bent.  The way I feed my family.  The way I think about poetry.  I've been criticized for tons of things.  You'd think eventually I'd say "screw everyone, I'm going to do what I know is right for me and mine and they can all bite me!"

I hope I can get there one day.

It's a hard road.

Yesterday I took my daughter to church in her pajamas.

She did NOT want to get dressed.

I had a choice.

Get her dressed, have a fight, get frustrated, make her cry, and get to church late OR let her go in her PJs and get to church on time without a lot of frustration.

I chose the options that didn't include a lot of frustration.  And yet - the ENTIRE way to church I worried about what people would say about my daughter at church in her barefeet and pajamas.  How would they look at me?  Would they think I was disrespectful?  Would they think I was a bad parent?

Some people did comment.  They criticized with a smile.  Made it into a joke from which I was to learn a lesson.  But most people just thought she was the cutest thing ever and didn't mind at all that she was in pink monkey pajamas.

I'm trying to stop caring what they think.  What everyone else thinks really isn't all that important.  They can make fun or mess with me or tell me I'm stupid - but I've got to cling to the truth.  God loves me just the way I am.  He made me to be this person with these ideas and these physical traits and this set of parenting skills and this mind and these talents.  He loves his creation.  He loves me through my mess-ups and stupidity and stumbling block learning curves.  He holds my hand.  He nods with approval.  I'm His child.  My Father is the KING.  Nobody messes with the daughter of the king.

In light of this, I realize that I need to take greater care in my passing judgments.  It's something I've gotten better at as I've grown older.  Something I've gotten better at since shaving my head and receiving the harsher end of the judgment stick.  People are trying their best, in general.  And what we want more than anything else is acceptance and love right where we are.  It's not really about "being cool".  It's about being LOVED.  I hope we can all try harder to see through the hot mess we might think we are or the hot mess we see in someone else and see the prince or princess on the other side.  God loves us all.  Even the person with the wiper blades whirring at a million miles a minute when it's barely drizzling outside.  Even you.  Even me.


Shemika said...

I think this is very cool! :) We all struggle with acceptance. It's nice to know we aren't alone in the crazy journey to "not care what others think". Blessings to you for being vulnerable and sharing this. :) I was touched.

Missy said...


jackie said...

This post touched me too, Missy. Sometimes, I'm so sure that I'm this headstrong, awesome girl that doesn't care at all what people think of me... and most of the time, I am!

But then, in 'weaker' moments, I find myself checking glances from other people and wondering what they perceive to be wrong with me. My hair? My face? My thighs? What could they possibly be seeing and thinking, because it surely can't be a positive thing. Because someone looking at me certainly doesn't see a beautiful woman... they have to see something negative.

I realize this is probably just me projecting my insecurities on other people, but in the moment, it's hard to see it that way.

I guess what I'm trying to say is... thanks for saying it. It may not be 1995, but we're all still trying to be the 'cool kids'. I hope someday we realize that we always were.

Missy said...

Love you, Jackie. And yes, absolutely.

BTW - I am CERTAIN that 99% of everyone who looks at you sees a beautiful woman. The other 1% are blind and simply hear a beautiful voice :)

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