Trading Coolness for Joy


Author: Kate Schaber | | @kateschaber

In my teen years, I learned that the goal for myself and those around me was essentially to look as unfazed as possible at all times. The less you care about things, the better.  The important lessons I learned in those days included: You shouldn’t like pop music, you shouldn’t take selfies, you should keep visible emotions to a minimum, you shouldn’t ever drink coffee from Starbucks or dance at concerts- only stoic, slight head-nodding is acceptable.

The “cool” mentality snuck with me into young adulthood, but now I called it  “maturity”. One day in college I was sitting around with other Really Mature People, and realized that we all did things we thought made us cool; clothes we wore, hobbies we had, phrases we said, tv shows we watched. For some reason in that moment it struck me as incredibly amusing. I had those things too. I wore a lot of rings because it made me feel bohemian or something, and I was so proud of my thrifted t-shirts and my extremely old, bright red Volvo.

I started a conversation called “I feel cool when I…” and we all filled in the blanks: “I feel cool when I wear red lipstick”, “I feel cool when someone notices my tattoo”, “I feel cool when I wear socks with Birkenstocks” (mine were a little… weird) and on and on it went. We laughed so hard at ourselves and how ridiculous we sounded, but there was something beautifully freeing about it, being able to own up to what we love. As if to say, “yeah, I feel awesome when I do this…and maybe that’s ok”.

Something I have discovered since then is that it is just so much more fun to be a fan of things than it is to turn up your nose at everything.

Obviously, we will all still have our preferences- Brussels sprouts, Lord of The Rings, or socks with Birkenstocks are not going to be everyone’s jam. But life throws enough negativity at us without asking for it, can we stop pretending not to enjoy anything because we’re afraid that someone will think what we like is dumb? I can’t tell you the joy I’ve found in leaving the image of Really Mature Person behind, and instead embraced being a Woman Who Loves.

When I am old and grey, I want to have stories to tell; stories where I loved and risked and chose vulnerability and openness to life. I want to show my great-grandchildren pictures of me in front of the Eiffel Tower that I made my friends take, even though it felt uncomfortable and vain and uncool at the time. I want to embarrass my kids on the dance floor and occasionally enjoy a frappuccino. I want to have accumulated a life full of loving things, loving people, embracing as much good as I can as often as I can.

A few years back I stumbled upon a quote attributed to Ryan Adams that has become a bit of a life motto for me:

“There’s nothing wrong with loving the crap out of everything”

So, here’s your permission:

Laugh at the dumb joke.

Wear the thing you don’t feel cool enough to wear.

Love the nerdy things you’re “too mature” for.

Take the dang selfie.

Pick up the obscure hobby.

Post the picture.

Do the ridiculous dance move.

Turn up the obnoxious song.

Cry at the cheesy commercial.

Stop for the sunsets and clear starry nights.

Embrace it all.

Don’t be too cool to enjoy your life.

So  what’s your thing?  What’s the thing you love now that would have embarassed your 15-year-old-self?  Share with the class! Let’s love the crap out of life together!


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