Cool or Weird?
Yesterday, when I was getting dressed for the day, I walked out into the kitchen to ask two of my roommates a question they are familiar with, “Cool or weird?”
I was referring to my outfit, which was a double XL denim shirt handed down to me by my dad tucked into thin, slick green pants (by far one of my most comfortable articles of clothing), with my trusty Blundsontes, and of course a headband (because my hair was greasy).
….I was met with silence, which is never a good sign in these matters. The general consensus was that it was in fact weird, but not bad (read: it was bad). I went back to my room and took a long look in the mirror. I asked myself a question, “If I saw myself walking down the street, what would I think of this outfit?” I decided I would like it, and in my very limited experiences with fashion, it’s 99% about confidence anyways.
So, I wore the outfit. And when I got to my first class, a friend greeted me with a smile and said, “Hey! You look so cute, I love your outfit!” *score*
Where am I going with this?
Good question, let me tell you.
Why did I ask my roommates for their opinion? And they didn’t think it was good enough to wear, why did I wear it anyway?
Because I wanted the approval of people I care about. I value my roommate’s opinions and I care what they think about me. But yesterday, I went against their opinion because once I was back alone in my room, I realized that the kind of person I want to become would wear that.
This has kind of become the standard I hold my decisions up against. Would the person that I hope to become do this thing? And most of the time, the answer is yes because I want to be confident in myself, but sometimes I need to remind myself to step back and analyze whether or not my actions are representative of what I want for future-me.
I got this point through a lot of self-discovery and soul-searching, and I’m no expert, but I’ll tell you how I got here.
Here’s what I’ve learned
Tip 1. Find role models
It’s really hard to make a path for yourself if you don’t have any idea where you’re going. So for me, the best starting place was to find some people or organizations that embody the values that I want to have.
Following authors, activists, and just people I know that are cool who represent some value or have a characteristic that I want to have too:
- being empathetic,
- seeking justice,
- having a sustainable lifestyle,
- and loving people well are just a few examples.
Intersectional Environmentalist, Jedidiah Jenkins, Jenna O’Brien, Black Lives Matter, and Emily P. Freeman are some of the models that I have found who have taught me about the kind of person I want to be.
Tip 2. Lean into your joys
This sounds simple, but it’s so important: let yourself enjoy the things you enjoy!
The other day I finally went to a coffee shop called Buvez (pronounced boo-vay) here in Athens that I’ve been meaning to try out for over a year now. I instantly fell in love. The lighting, the plants, the decoration, the tables- there’s a porch swing INSIDE! It was amazing.
If I was writing this a few years ago, that would probably be the only time I went there. Because it’s farther than other coffee shops, has a smaller menu, and has less seating inside, I would end up back in the JitJoes in the MLC. But now, I go there multiple times a week.
On Sunday, I was there getting some writing done fueled by an iced coffee with oat milk and a baguette sandwich with goat cheese, arugula, and prosciutto. A friend came and met joined me later and I told her that I felt like sitting there writing in that spot- I was as cool as I will ever be. That I had reached my final form in Buvez.
So find where you feel good about yourself! And go there! It’s ok even if it’s five minutes farther, I promise it’s worth it.
Tip 3. Don’t be afraid move on
I used to tell people, “I hate running. If you ever see me running, you should be concerned.”
But a few weeks ago, I was sitting on my front porch enjoying the evening when I realized that I wanted to go on a run. So within 60 seconds of deciding that I wanted to run, I was out the door, and I ended up running two miles. Granted, this may have not been the best decision given that my “running shoes” were $5 from Walmart, and I had just eaten generous helpings of buffalo chicken dip and extreme moose tracks ice cream.
I didn’t even know I could run two miles. I kept telling myself “you can make it to that bench,” “you can make it to that street,” “you can make it past those people” until I found myself nearly home again.
I also LOVE personality tests. Regardless of whether or not I actually believe them, I love finding out where I fit within a system. Things like Buzzfeed, Myers-Briggs, Zodiac, and the Enneagram capture my attention and I’m intrigued to learn how I’ve been determined by these predetermined standards.
But I’ve learned that identifying myself as an INTJ, 9w1, Virgo sun Libra moon and rising are just facets of my complex humanity. Even if these systems help me know myself and help others to know me, they are unable to fully encompass who I am, and placing too much trust in them will cause more harm than good.
Find what works for you!
There are so many ways that you can learn about yourself and who you want to become. I’ve used movies, TV shows, TikTok, podcasts, books, and Instagram just to learn about who I want to be. And then learning to let go of things other people use to define me and leaning into what brings me joy has allowed me to grow in ways I never thought possible.