As most of you know, I recently relocated to Los Angeles, CA, from Dearborn, MI. And, when you have a relocation of that magnitude, you’re likely to have more free time than friends to spend it with. Needless to say, Captain Kev-merica and I were excited when my sister and her big-hearted significant other moved here as well. We have friends! Hooray! You know what that means: we finally have another couple to play beanbag toss with!
Ah, yes. Nowadays, the four of us can likely be found at Plummer Park in West Hollywood, approximately three times a week, playing a rousing game or two of beanbag toss (affectionately known to us as Bagz. With a z). And when we’re done, we usually get froyo. While the rest of young Hollywood is out there performing drunk karaoke, throwing bongs out of their windows, and generally just tasting the sweet taste of rebellion, my Midwestern cohorts and I are lugging our homemade Bagz game to a park and gaining a reputation for being those weird kids that do that.
One day we had a particularly large crowd gathered to watch us as we played; and, beginning to feel like a social experiment, my sister leaned over to me and whispered, “Kirsten, will we ever be cool?” I looked around. (Note: that day, she and her boyfriend were wearing their matching “MSU’s Capital Green A Cappella” zip-ups as only two nerds in love could). The answer to the question–or at least the one she wanted to hear–was looking grim.
You have to understand that, for most of my adolescent life, I have had an unhealthy obsession with achieving that very status. Cool. Like Danny Zuko cool, or Jessica Rabbit cool. (Is it telling that the best two examples I could come up with are a musical theatre and cartoon character?) When you’re cool, you’re a trendsetter. When you’re cool, people are drawn to you. When you’re cool, you get to sit at a lunch table with the cute captain of the soccer team who resembles a modern day Zack Morris because he too is cool. It’s the highest degree of social ranking within a high school eco system, and believe me when I say I would have sold my soul for such a status if given the chance.
That being said, I was so not cool. I was rather the president of choir and the drama club, considered receiving an A- an epic failure, and was more often than not the wet blanket putting out any rebellious act I was [practically never] involved with. Sure enough, however, high school passed, college life re-defined my personal social standards, and my unhealthy obsession with becoming Danny Zuko/Jessica Rabbit faded.
Or did it? Fast-forward to my 20-something self, playing Bagz in a park in West Hollywood, on display as if I were the main attraction at the dork zoo (yes, I just said dork zoo. Case in point).
As I stumble into adulthood, insecurities of this nature are more prominent than I’d like to admit. Sometimes life seems a negotiation between who I am and who I think I need to be for other people’s sake. And boy do I ever have anxiety from this ridiculous, self-inflicted pressure to be liked. “But Kirsten, why do you care so much about what other people think?” you’re probably asking your computer screen (because I’m sure most of you talk to this blog as if we were having a conversation. We’re that close). To which I say to you, “it beats me!” (Oh, and how are you, by the way?) I suppose if I had to guess why I do silly things like that, it would hearken back to my days of obsessing over my ranking on the popularity scale. At least in high school I was actually working toward a goal: an invitation to a dance, or, you know, a boy to just look in my general direction at all. But, now what? What does “being cool” get me in real life?
Right about the time my sister presented me with her loaded question, I hit a three-point toss and animatedly did some sort of celebratory jig to no music at all. And when I say animatedly, I certainly mean it. She laughed. I wish I could tell you that this was an intentionally touching awwww moment, wherein I taught my littler sister the importance of just being herself, but that’s not exactly the case. The truth is I started doing a jig because that quirky stuff just sorta happens naturally. Especially when people are staring. That’s just me. I’m never going to be cool. I’m dorky, and kooky, and it’s nearly impossible for me to stand still. But that’s okay, because in the grand scheme of things, I’m more likely to get an invite to the big dance if the world knows I can move (okay, now you can let out that awwww. Or gag. Whichever feels more natural).
As the summer comes to a close, we’re more committed to Bagz than ever–happily playing jester to our usual slew of spectators. In fact, I barely even notice them anymore. Let ‘em stare! Nowadays, the sole person at that park capable of rattling my quirky cage happens to be a toddler, resembling a tiny, female Joffrey Baratheon. Clearly I only worry about what she thinks because I have no intention of ending up like Ned Stark. And I think that’s fair.