When did I become Cool?

29 May

A little while ago, I over heard some teens I know saying that I couldn’t possibly be as old as I am, because I’m too cool. They then invented an imaginary life for me. I’m now 22 and in college. I’m studying English, Art History and Music Theory. On the weekends I go hear live music, frequent museums and coffee shops, hike with my boyfriend and go to independent films.

The weirdest part — that’s not far off from what I WAS like in college. Only at my college, that was called NERDY.

In high school I was definitely nerdy. (NOTE: There will not be photographic evidence. Trust me, you don’t want to see it.) Let’s just say I had braces, frizzy hair, oversized glasses and dressed in a way I thought was fun, but looking back can see why others may not have gotten my very avant gard appearance (ok, it was nerdy *sigh*)

Interestingly, as I grew up, I noticed that in a lot of ways I changed the least of people I knew from home.

In high school, I never did anything truly bad. I did go into Boston to see independent films, go to museums and hang out in coffee shops. I had a fake ID. Wait. Don’t get excited. This was the era before the Under Age Show. I literally was there for the music. I didn’t drink, smoke or drug. I loved to be in the woods. Even then, a day hiking alone or with a small group of close friends was lovely.

I used words like lovely.

Actually, I said things like, “Last night at the party, he was quite intoxicated” — which was the breaking point for my poor best guy friend. He taught me that saying “He was drunk off his butt” (of course, he used “ass” but you can only push me so far out of my shell) was less offensive to the listener. That I wasn’t communicating sometimes because I said things in a way that made no sense to people. I loved Vocab.

But the most amazing thing happened. First, I went to college. And, while the college I ended up at for the 2nd 1/2 was more like my high school, when I was out at these other more interesting places, I was meeting people like me. People interested in the same thing. And then I got out of college and things really started getting weird.

The idea that I knew where all the art galleries were was suddenly very chic (of course, I was still nerdy, so I totally didn’t  get this. I can also prove this time period with photographic evidence… but I won’t. Sad, they still didn’t get my very unique style. *snort*)

Everything I loved, everything I’d been mocked for, was suddenly cool. I mean, have you seen the new Star Trek?

My friend Jeannie Lin summed it up once. She said, “Boys never noticed me in high school unless I was holding a twenty-sided die.”

And yet, I’ve noticed something really interesting. Even weirder than teenage girls thinking I’m cool (Okay, maybe nothing’s weirder than that. Although a friend once told me when she had her baby that I was going to be Aunt Amy. I’m totally down with that.)

 The last couple weeks, I’ve had four women I know call themselves nerdy girls. Okay, probably more than that with who my friends are, but these four really struck me. It happened at different times and the first three I kind of smiled and nodded. But the last one made me finally sit up and take notice. I mean, she had just said something about Emo being a type of yoga!

I can honestly say that two of these women wouldn’t have given me the time of day in high school. Maybe not even in college. Maybe not even until I was thirty. They were chic and cool and popular and gorgeous and always had been. I very clearly remember that both of them were proud of their coolness in high school (and teased me in passing for my very not-coolness)…and now, the were basically renouncing being cool back then.

Why?

Because nerdy is the new cool.

I know this isn’t news to anyone. I mean, geek chic has been around for a while. But the fact that it’s (a) drifted over to women and (b) is so highly evolved that women are recasting themselves as nerdy shocks me. There’s somethings these non-nerd nerdy girls will never, ever get. They will never get being the girl who was one of the guys in that very specific nerdy way. They will never get living their life in a way they want b/c they enjoy gaming and books and museums and unpopular underground music and more books. They will never understand what it means to be yourself when being yourself is uncool…and then, some how magically, growing to love yourself and watch everything you love become cool. And, they will never get watching the people who were too cool for you then ask you what books or bands or bars are hot right now.

There’s magic in that.

Maybe that’s why all the cool girls I know are suddenly nerdy. But please, they couldn’t even tell the difference between Angel and Spike so let’s just humor them, okay?

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9 Responses to “When did I become Cool?”

  1. Steve May 29, 2010 at 3:52 am #

    When I was a nerd kid in the fifties and sixties I had what I now know to be Asperger’s Syndrome. I’m not sure if being neurologically “different” is a requirement for the new nerdiness or not. 🙂

    -Steve

  2. Tammy Gallant May 29, 2010 at 4:22 am #

    Wow, does that mean I’m one of the cool kids now? (I have every Star Trek episode ever made, recorded on VHS.) Now if only high-waters would become the style. *sigh*

  3. Leigh May 29, 2010 at 12:36 pm #

    I always was the akward, socially naive girl. But now I love that I like the things I did then. I love to read. I love to learn. I love music and all that. But when I was telling my son that to be like that was ok because, “Baby, I am a nerd, and it’s ok.” He put on a sad face and said, “No, no, Mom, don’t say that about yourself.” Poor kid. He really thought I was being self-deprecating. (He’s 10) I hope I can teach him to love this aspect of himself because he’s great, and someday others will think so too, but right now, kids are mean.

    Bria, you’re in good company, or should I say, I’m in good company. 🙂

  4. briaq May 29, 2010 at 12:39 pm #

    oooohhhh how did I not use the word “awkward” in my blog 🙂

  5. Felicia Holt May 29, 2010 at 12:42 pm #

    A smart (and very cool) guy once told me that everyone worth knowing was a geek in high school. And he’s right!

    It’s not really about Star Trek, it’s about being yourself. Not selling yourself short to gain other people’s approval. It’s a little ironic when people fake integrity to appear cool.

  6. briaq May 29, 2010 at 12:51 pm #

    Exactly – Plus, do we really want the Star Trek v Star Wars fight to throw down over ultimate nerdyness? I think not!

  7. Ella Drake May 29, 2010 at 2:56 pm #

    I’m a nerd. Always have been & I have not only the twenty sided die to prove it, but the d4, d6, d8, d10, and d12 to prove it 🙂
    You know I love the Star Trek, but did you know I grew up with Star Wars sheets?

  8. briaq May 29, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    OMGosh – you just reminded me (Please try to make this absurd jump) of the night we all talked about our underroos LOL

    Yeah, my mom had issues getting me to wear “real clothes” for a few weeks – I mean COME ON! wouldn’t you rather be a super hero than wear OshGosh?

  9. Ella Drake May 29, 2010 at 3:05 pm #

    Underroos! I still want to be Wonder Woman.

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