We live and let live, and assume that things are jogging on fairly well elsewhere, and that the ordinary plain man may be trusted to look after his own affairs. I quite grant – I look at the faces of the clerks in my own office, and observe them to be dull, but I don’t know what’s going on beneath.
— E.M. Forster, Howard’s End
I meet a lot of sort of cynical people these days. People who consider it a point of pride that they dislike most other people, people who roll their eyes at other people’s interests, people who kind of feel an enlightened superiority because they see right through everyone else. That kind of cynical. Full disclosure: I have some pretty detailed inside knowledge on these people because I let myself be one for like, two years. I’ll make this a little more tangible by providing a list of all* the kinds of people I privately and sometimes not-so-privately scoffed at because I had waaaaaay more insight about how the world works and what it means to be cool.
1. Han Solo girls. This affectionate moniker refers to the hordes of white girls who dress like Han Solo from October until March. They have those knee-high boots that are a zero on a scale from one to hooker, skinny jeans sometimes but usually leggings, a flannel or a long-sleeved shirt of some kind, and an insulated puffy vest type thing. Oh, and the whole outfit is in neutrals and/or earth tones. Bonus points if the combined retail value of the ensemble is more than $200. So stylish.
2. All males I personally know. “Out there in the wide world” I know for a fact that there are scads of dudes who are really cool, attractive, and interesting, but not the ones in my spheres of contact. N0 sir, all the guys I know are pretentious narcissists, wishy-washy little boys, or immature douchebags. The WORST thing about them, though, is that none of them seem to want to date me. I mean, good for me though. I would like, probably actually feel really BAD about myself if any of them took an interest in me. Ew, it’s just, why would he, am I the kind of girl who attracts…oh, barf! I can’t wait to get out there in the world where I’ll lock eyes with a Chad Michael Murray doppelganger at every street corner and he’ll instantly fall in love with me because his life is obviously not a messy charade.
3. Eager beavers. Oh, just shut up already. I get it, you think you’re sooooo smart about “Kantian ethics” and “molecular composition of whatever.” You’re not that special. Just pipe down. Dial it back a thousand. It’s so lame to babble on about stuff you love and have worked to amass knowledge on. Don’t you know how much cooler it is to just silently perfect that coolly aloof expression of bored intelligence? First things first, that manic gleam in your eyes has got to go.
4. Eager beavers. Slutty girls. Teehee. Okay, okay, so more accurately, girls who get really fluttery and self-important about male attention, especially if they have this affected behavior that they think will seem more appealing to guys. Usually, this either takes the form of a giggly cheerleader at a bake sale or the talking head of a broad on an MTV show who’s been around the block a few times.
5. Photography buffs. The main thing I hate is that they never f***ing ask me to be one of their subjects. Every time I get a Facebook invite to some exhibition or show, I’m like, oh brother at you and your artsy one-word-in-all-caps show title. Cool, we all know how to push a zoom button and Google “Audre Lorde quotes.” Oh, it’s in black and white. Well, aren’t you just like, Man Ray over here. A boy wearing makeup, well my God, you are so edgy. I’m just gonna ignore your invite to “DISTORTIONS // A Story in Stills” because I should have been the GUEST OF FREAKIN’ HONOR, your muse and inspiration.
6. Country music fans. Are you also a Men’s Rights Activist and a member of the KKK? Tell me more about how we shouldn’t raise the minimum wage because people who have those jobs are lazy idiots. Wear some sunscreen. Put that gun away. The “R” in your neon Budweiser sign is burned out, if you care.
7. Band geeks. Let me be clear about something: I’m not talking about the marching band. Nothing is more endearing to me than an awkward adolescent wearing a weird hat and a tuba. I’m talking about twenty year old hipsters. Have you ever used the phrase “layering synths?” Do you have an upcoming gig at a venue roughly the size of my living room? Are you all wearing Youth XL Hawaiian shirts, cuffed skinny jeans, and high-fashion hiking boots? Is your band called something like The Virgin Collective or Arbitrary Lizard? I might hate you. I shouldn’t even have to say how stupid it is to have a talent that you enjoy pouring creative energy into, pursuing with friends, and sharing with others. Yeah, call me when you’re famous, i.e. NEVER.
8. Happy people. Wake up, SHEEPLE. The realities of the world aren’t so glaringly obvious to you that you know that cheerfulness and optimism are the Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum of the 21st century? Oh, I bet your life is just so peachy, you just don’t have anything to brood about or make a hobby out of hating, do you? I feel so sorry for you that you don’t share with me razor-sharp insight and thorough knowledge regarding the lot of humanity. If you did you would be sadder. WHY WON’T YOU BE SADDER?
9. Nice people. Ugh, nice people are just the worst, aren’t they? I mean, they’re just so fake. Fake nice people. Nice people just lie to your face every time they speak with you. They obviously hate you just as much as you hate them, but they’re nice to you anyway. You know why? BECAUSE THEY’RE FAKE. If they’re not fake, it’s because they’re boring, opinion-less slices of white bread. Interesting and genuine people are always assholes. Fact of life.
10. “Hypocrites.” Some people might consider these dirty rotten individuals to be “multi-faceted.” Nope. If you aren’t exactly the same person with the exact same demeanor in every last area of your life, you’re a hypocrite. Sorry, I can’t respect anything you’re saying about your selfless month in Haiti rebuilding an orphanage because I know for a FACT that you got too drunk at that party and said some regrettable things. So, the gig’s up, slimeball, stop being such a hypocrite. Wipe away those fake-ass tears. Put that picture of Jelena the Haitian orphan back in your pocket and admit that you suck as a human being.
Ouch. As it turns out, when you act like a haughty little biatch for a long time, breathing in imperfections and breathing out hatred, you start to be mad unhappy with yourself. There I was, schlepping through public areas, scowling and glaring, hating everyone for being so lame and fake and dumb. Partly, this was because I look really hot with a scowly face – my eyes are all big and my lips are naturally pouty, and the glower really lends a new and exciting luster to my dark and dramatic makeup looks. Mostly, though – if you haven’t picked up on this already – it was because I think I actually felt a little jilted. Why doesn’t everyone like me as much as they like these girls who don’t seem as genuinely cool, authentic, and interesting as me? They don’t even know how to draw on eyeliner and have never bought a shirt from a dead ninety year old woman’s estate sale. Why doesn’t everyone like me as much as they like pretentious dudes with basic tastes and cringey sense of humor?
Well guess what, Allison you dummy, the things you do, the things you like, and even the things you are don’t make you cool.
Being a human being makes you, and Han Solo, and Shutterfly, and literally everyone else, cool.
Say it with me: everyone is cool.
I think it’s too easy to look around and see people who aren’t really like you at all crushing it. And for me, that’s kind of when insecurity comes knocking. Is the way I am wrong? But, but….I like me. I think I’m cool. Dammit, I’m the coolest! But all these people who aren’t like me are doing a great job at stuff. That doesn’t seem right, so, instead of just being happy for other people and reminding myself that I too am happy and have loads of great qualities and talents that I’m super stoked to have and totally putting to good use, it’s somehow easier to just think that other people succeeding are fake. People might THINK they’re cool, but they can’t fool me. My life is outwardly-seemingly lamer than theirs because I’m REAL.
Seriously though, enough of that. I felt so crappy, not only because of the endless comparison, but also because I was being someone I’m not. I’m not a cynical, aloof wolf woman! I’m soft and fuzzy and joyful. That’s not a pep talk, it’s just true. Feeling bad about the way some things are going in my life is no excuse, no excuse at all, for hating other people so I can feel superior to them. It’s waaaay nicer to wake up and forge out into a world that I believe is filled with cool, fun, and lovely people than it is to believe I’m making my way in a universe of shitheads. I might only really “get” like .01% of those cool, fun, and lovely people, but that doesn’t make the other 99.99% uncool and terrible.
You know what? That photography is actually awesome. Your band’s music is really good. And I just work at a restaurant. But I’m also sitting here writing this. I’m practicing writing because I want to be published. I went to the Field Museum because it was free this month and I loved it. I made a really pretty painting this weekend. I graduated college last month Magna Cum Laude. I read a book so hauntingly good I cried. I made a playlist with the same song on repeat twelve times and danced in my bedroom. I adore every person who I have actually taken the time to get to know. They give me life and light and love. And I actually love my job! I’ve got some stuff. I celebrate my stuff, and I’m doing my best to celebrate other people’s stuff too. No more jealousy, no more cynicism, no more toxic negativity.
Even though there are some people I’m glad I’m not and some people who I don’t like very much, I still think they’re so cool. They have their stuff, and they do it, and they love it, and, like me, they’re just trying to be the best they can be and do all the good they can and find some sort of happiness. We’ve all laughed at something weird and said something mean that we didn’t really regret and worn something even though we knew it was tacky and secretly loved a dumb song and spent all day watching TV and desperately wanted something but acted like we didn’t and felt super proud of ourselves and cried for no reason and worried what someone else thinks of us and jumped on our bed because we were so excited and proud and human.
Those are the human things that make us all so crazy cool.