Up until college, I had always wanted to be cool. Like most teenagers, I wanted to fit in with everybody else. I thought that to be cool in high school I had to stop caring so much about everything because the cool kids didn’t give a damn. The problem is I am the type of person who gives a shit. A lot. So, I ended up overthinking everything.
I wanted so badly to be cool that eventually all I did was care too much about what people thought of me. I thought that their opinion was worth more than my own. I thought that in order to love myself, I had to be a cool kid first. So instead of putting myself first, I put myself last and in that process I forgot that I was supposed to love myself.
I spent most of my high school years trying too hard to be cool, which is embarrassing. Oh, how I would love to tell 15 year-old me to just wear those comfy Birkenstocks that your friends called ugly, stop pretending that you didn’t do your Econ homework, stop smoking cigarettes because smoking doesn’t make you cool and are horrible for your health, and, please, don’t attempt another DIY at-home ombre because you will constantly cringe each time you see pictures of you and your hair in high school.
I always looked happy in those pictures (though my hair looked so freaking thirsty and in dire need of toning), but underneath that smile I felt lonely and unhappy. I didn’t love myself and I blamed other people for being mean when they didn’t think I was cool. I was pissed off at the world because I felt rejected, and I don’t handle feeling like that very well. I was an egomaniac in disguise.
My efforts to fit in and be cool never did succeed. I still didn’t fit in with the rest of the crowd. I still wasn’t what people consider cool. In all honesty, throughout high school I was the fat nerd and teacher’s pet (a big no-no for the cool kids) who had no sense of style whatsoever because I was copying what other kids were doing, and most of the looks wouldn’t be what I consider “my style” now.
I’ve always genuinely loved movies, so what better way to be edgy than referencing foreign movies that I have never watched to kids in my class who aren’t interested in hearing my bullshit right after I finished making their essays? It was a total fail. People started to label me as the weirdo movie buff, which sounds interesting now that I’m in college, but back in high school it was not.
I thought that I was edgy and different enough to be unique and eventually fit in, but I guess my trying too hard really ruined my chance of being cool. In addition to that, being a people pleaser wrecked me emotionally, as I deemed myself not worthy of belonging every time I did things for myself that other kids didn’t like – like finally refusing to write their essays, word per word.
I was also so dumb to think that it was enough of a reason to change schools after the cool kid called me a bitch behind my back for refusing to write her another freaking essay. I was so naïve to think that one bad thing she said “ruined my reputation”. What reputation was I even thinking about?
Thinking about it now, a few years later with an extraordinary reputation in college for not being “the cool one”, and a better understanding of who I am after studying psychology for merely two semesters (ha!) I can say that I am now happier that I’ve realized that I will never be cool.
I’ve also realized that fitting in isn’t always cool and being cool doesn’t always equal fitting in, because I am not a one-size-fits-all. I am more than just the shelf people put me in after attempting to read me like a book.
I have stopped becoming so scared of what I saw in the mirror and so terrified of the voice inside of me, because who I am, the real me, is not cool and it never will be cool, and I’m okay with that. I am now happy that I can accept myself for who I am and not who I want myself to be.
I will never be cool. Now that that ship has sunk, I can always be me and I can honestly say that I love being me. I am Sandra: fat, not stylish, very single, gives too many damns (but this time for shit that do matter), still watches too many weird old movies, studies a bit too much, and spends too much time thinking of her future pet cat. I will never be cool, but at least I am having an okay time just being me.
Sandra is a feminist and first-year college student. She believes in equal rights for all human beings and always asks "What would Beyoncé do?" when in doubt.