Meet 9-year-old Rachel: she listens to Beatles CDs, wears zip-off pants as capris, is a three-sport athlete, just recorded her first Latin-inspired piano album, is four years away from losing her last baby tooth, and she recently went to Canada. Has she read the Harry Potter books? No. And she wants it to stay that way. She has a reputation to uphold.
Does 9-year-old Rachel read Harry Potter, listen to Hannah Montana, or watch High School Musical? Absolutely not because she doesn’t have time for mundane pop culture. If it is trendy, she isn’t about it. From here on out, she is going to root for professional sports teams that will never win championships, listen to bands you’ve never heard of, and fight NBC to renew Community even though no one watches it/understands how genius the show really is (#sixseasonsandamovie).
I have previously mentioned the fact that I am from Portland. In fact, I wrote a whole rant about how much I love Portland/Oregon last fall. One of Portland’s unique traits I did not discuss is the sub-status quo culture. Portlanders are notorious for doing and being the “uncool.” Trends are born in Portland and trends retire in Portland. Hipsters? Portland accidentally gave birth to them. You thought the 90s died 20 years ago? Think again. All things 90s are thriving in Portland, OR.
I like to think I’m a true Portlander. Portlanders have never fit in with the status quo. I fit right in with my city of misfits.
I spent my whole childhood dreaming up unconventional fashion trends and new slang. While none of it caught on, I thought I was better than everyone else because I wasn’t following trends like everyone else. I was independent and I wanted the world to know.
Not only did I avoid trends other people enjoyed, I hated on them.
As it turns out, hating on pop culture is frustrating to others. Growing up, my friends truly loved High School Musical and I thought I was above such a film and made fun of it. What’s even worse is that I hadn’t watched HSM so I wasn’t qualified to have and share such strong opinions about the matter.
I just wanted to swim upstream to be different. I wanted to swim upstream all the time. Even salmon swim with the current sometimes (ooh la la…a cool NW fish analogy).
While I like to think I grew out of this habit of contrarianism, I haven’t. I’m better these days but I still catch myself attempting to draw attention to myself for not having heard Billboard’s Song of the Year because I’m too cool to listen to the radio.
I’m still annoying.
Last winter, I had the privilege of attending Lorde’s Melodrama tour for work (best work day ever). I am a big fan of Lorde’s music and was excited to see her perform live. About halfway through the concert, a woman came and stood by me. In an attempt to impress me with how cool and subversive she was she said, “I’ve never even heard any of her stuff.”
First of all, I’m sure everyone in America has heard the song Royals. Second, I did not like her attitude and was upset that her being cool meant being negative about something I loved.
A taste of my own medicine.
Before I finish up, I would like to relay a brief anecdote from my youth. I used to be a brat. This may be difficult to believe for those who know the angel I am today, but I was awful. I threw a lot of fits in 1998. What turned me around was a trip to the grocery store where I heard another kid throw a fit. My mother asked me if I could hear the other kid throwing the fit and I told her that other kid was obnoxious. Upon listening to someone else throw a fit, I realized how I sounded when I threw a fit. Then I stopped throwing fits.
Sometimes I need my faults reflected back at me so I can realize them.
I used to think it was noble to be the odd one out–the contrarian. I wanted attention for being different. I wanted people to find me interesting and a lil mysterious for living the “anti” lifestyle.
Looking back, no one ever commended me for living such a way or hating on the things they loved.
While not every popular thing is worth loving, who am I to go around crushing people who are genuinely excited about a show, an artist, or a book? A snob. But it doesn’t mean that I can’t watch a show, listen to an artist, or read a book and decide not to like it or have different opinions about them.
In fact, I finally got around to reading Harry Potter, the world-wide pop sensation. I loved the series. J.K. Rowling is a terrific writer and storyteller. The joy I got from reading the books far outweighed the joy from “being different.”
Moral of the story: stop doing things because you think it makes you cool. There are very few instances where doing something you think is cool is actually cool. So go forth and stop trying to be cool because it’s really annoying.
I can’t believe you kept reading! Thanks so much. I wasn’t expecting this (actually I was because I kept writing down here kind of like how a musician knows they are going to have an encore so they prepare an additional set of songs).
Down here at the bottom of my posts I will be writing about what I am ingesting content-wise. These are things I love. Maybe you will love them too? I don’t know but I saw Sleeping At Last do this on his newsletters and I am going to copy him.
- Everything is Love – The Carters – Beyoncé and Jay-Z put out a new album together and it is phenomenal. They made it whilst traveling and prepping for a world tour. They work hard.
- John Mayer – I’ve always liked John Mayer’s music but I have not gone out of my way to listen to him. A couple of weeks ago I accidentally watched his new music video and it was so genius that I’ve listened to almost nothing else for two weeks. Whoops.
- Incredibles 2 – Literally been waiting my whole life for the sequel and this movie did not disappoint.
- Brothers Karamazov – This is my best friend’s favorite book and I am finally getting around to reading it. I’ve hardly made a dent because it is a billion pages long but I am enjoying every second of it.