I believe that people should be who they want to be, and not who their friends want them to be. When I was in 6th grade I used to be cool, one of the in crowd. I knew everybody and everybody knew me. I was cool because I followed my own way of thinking and no one else’s. Then came junior high. It was a bigger school, combining the three local middle schools. If you wanted to be cool, you had to do as everyone else did. So naturally, I gave up the cool. “Why should I change myself for them?” I asked.
Then I suddenly realized, here I was left out of the loop. I was left behind in the social race to popularity. My endless count of friends slowly became countable and the tables I could sit at in the lunchroom became fewer and fewer. You read this and think “Who wants this?” But not only had I stayed true to myself, I got a chance to see who my real friends were.
The others who had decided to give up the cool and follow their own way. You and they become better friends, eventually creating your own group or clan. There, you don’t have to put on a show for your friends. You just be you. You don’t have to act your way through a conversation. You don’t have to “act the fool” so to speak. In its own way, it is cool, just not defined the same way.
People view cool in different ways just as different people see you in different ways. Some people see cool as outgoing, loud or obnoxious, or quiet and thoughtful. But when you be you, people like you for who you are, not for who you pretend to be. Because whether or not you want to, you can’t impress everybody. So for the people you can, make it real.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.