I’m not 100% sure how or when it all got started, but for the longest time I just wanted to be seen as one of the “cool kids.” I wanted to be accepted by the “cool kids.”
I can speculate that it probably began late in elementary school. My brothers and I grew up poor but adjacent to wealthier people. We didn't go without, but I was consistently surrounded by kids who had everything they wanted and more.
For the first part of my childhood, I also grew up without a father around. I think this contributed to my lack of confidence and knowledge about masculine things. I grew up knowing almost nothing about sports or cars or other things many men use to connect.
To top it off, I have always been really quiet. This made me a target for bullying from the loud and more confident kids. My quietness and lack of confidence in myself made me not cool in the eyes of the ones I thought I wanted to be like.
Sadly, I think I internalized this feeling of being an outsider and channeled in negative ways. Some positive things too, like introspective hobbies like music and writing, but also negative habits like consistently comparing myself, what I have, what I have accomplished, and my tastes, to others. And although I’m aware of it and want to change it, I haven’t yet. I’m beginning to, but I haven’t gotten over the hump.
I find myself ever striving for more and focusing on material things. Not luxury cars, but quality things around the house. I get down on myself about the way my house looks and want to spend money to improve it (I bought it as a fixer up in the white hot Portland market back in 2016). I compare my neighborhood to others’. The list goes on.
But I think I‘m starting to feel more of a letting go of these feelings and fake needs as I get older. I find myself not interested in a lot fo the things I used to be interested in even a few years ago, favoring time spent in at night enjoying quiet introverted things like playing music or reading articles on the internet on random topics I’m interested in.
I’m accepting myself more for who I am and what my strengths are versus a superficial quality of coolness or acceptance by others. And it’s pretty freeing. I am actually growing less and less interested in people in general, with the exception of those closest to me, and it feels great. Strange, perhaps. But I don’t feel anything unhealthy about it. I feel like my season of life is changing and that I’m actually ok with things slowing down to more of an internal focus. I’m focusing less on accomplishments and ownership and more on an internal exploration of my purpose in life.
I may not know who the cool bands are anymore and I still might not be able to chat up the boss about sports. I might be looked over for that promotion. But I’m becoming perfectly content with my quiet little life and worrying less and less about measuring it against those of others.