Total Pageviews

Monday, August 19, 2013

Being "Cool"

Being cool so often means having potential but not using it. A while ago, on one of my many surfing adventures through the interwebs, I came across a poster (I think that's what it was). It was called ‘Possibility Girl’, all about a girl who has great potential. People say she could be great if she just took the plunge, but she doesn't. She just sits on the edge of possibility, loving all the praise that she gets for her untapped potential. In a lot of ways, I felt like I am her. I've been blessed to have a loving, supporting, caring family. I never felt a want for praise as a kid, whatever I did, my parents and teachers and now even my friends always told me, “Wow, what a great start, you’re talented, why don’t you do more?” And more I did...or so I thought. The truth is that I never gave all of myself to anything. So, I was good, I had potential, but I wasn't getting any better.

It wasn't until I changed schools and was introduced to an entirely new set of people that I began to realize, I was holding myself back. Like Possibilty Girl, I was afraid to give all of myself to anything that I tried. As teenagers, we lay a huge emphasis on being “cool”. For a long time, the true definition of “coolness” evaded me, I felt as though I was excluded from this huge club of people who “knew” what cool was and how to be cool. If there’s one thing that high school has taught me, it’s this: That in order to be cool, you can’t try hard. It’s the people who do things with ease who are cool. Sometimes, in order to maintain the level of ease, we don’t work hard enough at some things, because that wouldn't be cool. I saw it in my classmates, I saw that I had missed this in my old friends. Most of all, I saw it in myself. But I realised that that is not coolness, it’s just fear. Fear that you won't be as good as you hoped or that someone will be better than you. Obviously, that’s a bullshit reason, if everyone gave into their fears of not succeeding, we wouldn't have Sylvester Stallone or Steve Jobs or Oprah Winfrey or Rosa Parks, we would be a race of people who take pride in mediocrity. Possibility Girl fears that when she takes the plunge, she may not live up to her potential. Perhaps, people will begin to see that she too, has limits. I would never want that. Everyone wants to be seen as limitless. I've always feared that once I plunge into something, I will lose my identity. Perhaps it’s because it’s taken me a long time to build this identity, I am petrified of losing it. Even scarier: what if I’m not good enough? What if no one likes the work I do? Insecure as I am, I've always found an ego boost in hearing and knowing that I could be great at something. But that’s not enough anymore.

There’s a way I found to solve this. I’m still testing the waters with it, but so far, it hasn't let me down. I redefined coolness for myself. Like Wil Wheaton said, “… it’s not about what you love. It’s about how you love it.” ( Now I know he was talking about being a nerd) And what you do out of that love for it, that’s what makes you stand out, and standing out, my friend, is cool. When you look at all the people we love and idolize, celebrities, writers and actors, it becomes pretty clear that they did not get to where they are by “being cool”, they got there by working hard and refusing to give up, despite all the people who laughed at their dreams and ambitions. Sure, people will call you nerdy, or lame or a loser, but are those labels really more important than doing work that makes you proud to be who you are?

Be Cool.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Things are changing around here...

Wonderful people seem to wander into my life, so simply and easily. There is no fanfare of trumpets to announce their arrival and yet, somehow, you know that there is something special about them. Somehow, you know that this is no regular person. For reasons I can’t fathom, I have been lucky enough to have had several such people in my life. People who love and cherish me for who I am even if they don’t quite know exactly what that is.
But now, it’s come to that point in time when one of these people is leaving to another continent, and I can’t even meet her. One of my closest, truest and best friends since the third grade is leaving to college.
It’s not that I have never been away from my best friends. The truth is probably the opposite. Having been in boarding school, I’m quite used to it. Then why all this drama? I guess I always thought that once school was done, we’d all be together again and things would go back to the way they used to be; the hope that someday, we would meet in the middle.
That hope is gone now, blown away by the winds of change. Speaking with her on the phone, and learning of her impending departure, I didn't know what to think. There’s something about a phone conversation that makes me realise how much I really miss someone. Picking up the phone at first, there is excitement. Then the conversation begins and there comes a keen interest in the other’s life. Then I hang up...and I’m suddenly reminded that a piece of me has been missing for ages. I don’t know how I managed to forget that.
Hanging up after the call, I couldn't shake the feeling that something was horribly wrong about the whole situation. I know that in two years apart, we’ve grown to be different, found new friends and new places where we belong. But it felt anti-climactic, like an epic friendship (such as ours) couldn’t possibly end in a phone call.
Life, however, isn’t doesn’t care for your plot, your characters or the ending you wrote for your story. Life is always messy, isn’t it? But when things go wrong, the strategy of yelling “Plot twist!” and moving on is very attractive, but it doesn’t quite cut it.
I’m beginning to feel like I’m in a movie about star-crossed lovers. You know the one. The one where the couple reunite for one last time at the airport or the harbour or the train station. You catch my drift? Well, I can’t help but feel that I have to do something as dramatic as that. Like I said before, wonderful people come into your life so easily, I feel like I owe it to them to blow a fanfare every so often, just so they know how much they mean to me. And if (and I DO mean a BIG IF) this is her leaving my life, well then, I need a whole marching band. There’s no way I’m letting the good ones go without showing them how much they mean to me...