To be in, with the in-crowd is to be out of touch with reality. That’s a struggle of mine. Its easier to be cool with people that are seemingly cool. It is so much harder to be cool with the outcasts. People that I look at and judge as lower than me, why should they get any attention out of me?
I’m no outcast. At least that is what I like to believe.
I fought so hard as a young teenager to be relevant. I was a rebel. I wouldn’t consider myself or things I did to be that wild, but I tried to stand out. When it was cool to be a part of hip hop culture, I dived in. I wanted clothes that were five sizes too big, I wanted to listen to rap music, and I wanted people to know that I did. I would turn up my headphones as loud as they went, in hopes that someone would hear them and like that we liked the same music. None of the extra stuff I would do (music, clothes, slang) ever helped the cause. The only thing that helped me make friends was my silly personality and quick snide comments.
Later when I decided I wanted to be a skateboarder and to start wearing a belt, life got a little rough. Not because of my attempt to change myself, but because at home I started to go through some trying times. During this phase my clothes stayed large and they got a bit darker. I quickly joined other friend groups, the skaters and the emos. I would put myself at that time somewhere along the lines of skater-punk-asshole. Even then, I wanted to stand out. I painted my shoes, I painted my hoodies. I wore dark clothes and paraded around like I was hot shit.
The striving to be cool caused my grades to tank. With the home-life going down the drain, and my need to be recognized as awesome not going too well, I got super depressed.
I met the Lord sometime around then, and it was a wonderful thing. I had hope for life and people that cared about me in ways I never knew possible. As the dark thoughts and depression slowly faded, my ability to be real with people started to peek out, ever so slightly.
But high school happened. I tried to stay in touch with what the Lord wanted for me, but not without a fight. The want to be cool was still present. First couple of years of high school passed and I was pretty successful at making friends. By that point everyone knew me. They knew I was a christian dude, and that I would probably invite them to bible study, and they also knew that I was funny.
That’s about all I had going for me. My musical tastes shifted a bit, and so did my clothes. I had a job so I could finally buy things that would make me cooler. I had a car, so I could play music with the windows down (I still do this, a part of it is I really like loud music, but I still want to be cool). I got into weird trends because of pop-culture.
The only thing that ended up mattering at all from high school was the people that I built into and cared for that are still my close friends today. Everything else was useless and has flown away with the wind.
When college started it was like a whole new realm of possibilities of cool. Nobody knew me. Nobody knew my past. And none of my friends would ever see what I was up to at school. This meant total freedom. Freedom to finally live out all my stupid desires. Things that, if I was to tell anyone about, I would quickly be hit with words of advice I did not want to hear.
I wanted to be cool. This is where it hit an all time high. School was free for awhile, so that meant any money I made I could spend! I could spend money on clothes, and shoes and really whatever I wanted. I bought everything that was cool until I was almost in the red almost every paycheck.
I grew a dream of maybe being a performer. Maybe a rap artist or a DJ. I pursued both, not very seriously, but I tried.
Here and there I would feel cool. These feelings were quick to leave and I was regularly hit in the face with reality. I’m not cool.
The only thing that ever mattered was the people the Lord put in my life and opportunities to help change others lives. Why is it so damn surprising that the only thing that brought me true joy and feelings of significance in the past is the only thing that continues to do so? I’m still in school, and the temptation to want to be cool is still present.
I’ve hurt a lot of people because I want to be cool. Mocking and putting people down is something I’m skilled at. I wish I could trade it all in for the ability to love others better.
I am an outcast. In fact, if I was to embrace the fact that I’m a christian dude, and live out what the Lord wants for me, of course I would be an outcast. Christians of all time have always been outcasts. When they wanted to be more, they made huge mistakes. To not be an outcast and try to be a christian is to basically not be a christian at all. You may be a hearer, but are you a doer? You may say you are doing things in Christ’s name, but is it really something he’d approve of? You may go to church and sing the great songs, but are you really doing anything significant with what you learn?
This is all still a challenge for me, no doubt. I hope to overcome it at some point.
But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.