This would probably come as a shock to everyone who knows me, but I have never been “cool.” Now, now—I’m not being modest. I’m being honest. My road to adulthood has been one paved with embarrassing moments, lonely weekends and bad hair. My adolescence was rife with attempts to fit in without standing out too much. I really, really, really wanted to be cool.
Here, I am now, however, still living at home at 22. I am so broke and so in debt, and my hair is never quite right. It would be so easy for me to complain about all of the wrongs in my life, but I can’t. Not hardly.
I am so blessed—really and truly, ridiculously blessed. Although things have not always worked out the way I would have planned, God has always supplied just enough to help me get by, to keep me from becoming spoiled. However, on those occasions when I spend the weekends alone or when I glimpse myself in the mirror and see how I look in all of my dorky glory, I can’t help but feel defeated.
I still don’t feel cool enough. Nor pretty enough. Nor smart enough, nor financially stable enough, nor "spiritual" enough. I’m not quite talented enough either. I guess sometimes I feel like—in the world’s eyes—I’m not enough.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve always desired that "I don’t care what people think of me" sort of attitude—because, after all, I shouldn’t care what people think, within reason. However, if there’s one thing my adolescent pop-culture icons have taught me, it’s that being unaffected by your peers is nearly impossible.
Take DJ Tanner, for instance. (Hey, don’t make fun of me! She was older than me, so I looked up to her.) As the oldest of three girls on ABC’s Full House, DJ was forced to face the awkwardness of teenagedom without a good, female role model. (No, Becky doesn’t really count.) Exhibit A: DJ was invited to a pool party at Kimmy Gibbler’s house and felt she would look terrible in a bathing suit—bring on the crash diet! DJ manages to evade her unsuspecting family for a couple of days before Stephanie spills the beans that she has been starving herself. (A “Dad talk” ensued, and everything was better by the end.) Even DJ buckled under societal pressure!
I will not even tackle Blossom. However, her boyfriend Vinnie was portrayed by David Lascher, so her adolescence wasn’t all that bad.
Who could forget the episode of The Brady Bunch where Marcia gets braces, and her weekend date, Alan, cancels their date. Marcia assumed it was because she had braces put on. However, in the end, Alan was having braces put on too—so their date commenced, and everything worked out for the two of them. She grew up to be the coolest girl in school, right?
Finally, I must mention Kelly Kapowski. As one of the teen idols of my generation—and one of the stars on my all-time favorite television show, Saved by the Bell—Kelly set the tone for insecurity issues among Saturday morning television-watching girls across the country. Yet, even Bayside High School’s head cheerleader and homecoming queen dealt with the pressure of being socially acceptable. In the episode entitled “Cream for a Day,” Kelly refused to have her Homecoming Queen campaign ruined by a zit on her nose and, after trying Zack and Screech’s zit remedy, was plagued by cream burn all over her face. She was so distraught by what others would say. But she won the crown in the end. Of course.
What does all of this have to do with my issue of struggling to be cool? Well, these pop-culture moments remind me that I am not alone—everyone wants to be well liked, everyone wants to be accepted, everyone wants to fit in. Above all else, everyone wants to be cool.
However, I think all of us—and I feel this is paramount to my own social-consciousness—require a reality check. And, I believe the New Testament is the main source for the job. In Romans 12:2, we are reminded that we should not conform to what society dictates we should be; instead, we should allow God to transform our minds, to become what He has willed for us to be.
In 1 Samuel 16:7, the Bible tells us that unlike people, God looks at our heart. He isn’t concerned with our clothes, our checkbooks, our love handles. None of that matters to Him. All that matters to Him is our internal self. Besides, the rest of us—that outside appearance, and superficial, shallow stuff—is only temporary. Worrying over those things will not bring us treasures in heaven. Also, it is important to remember that God hand-crafted who we are, what we look like, what are gifts our—it’s up to us to make sure that we are using our God-given potential and lining up with God’s will for our lives.
I may be living at home, financially burdened and nervous about what the future holds, and my body will always be just a bit too “curvy” for the world’s standards. But I’m done living by the world’s standards. Everything in life won’t end in a neat package like a sitcom, but if I draw my strength from Christ and not from the world, then God will take care of the rest.