Lately I’ve had this feeling that I’ve been trying to understand: I don’t feel very cool. It’s really weird, because “being cool” is something I haven’t thought about since High School. In fact, I had almost started to think that “being cool” wasn’t something adults had to deal with, unless you’re a Kardashian or whoever else is cool now. See? I’m not even cool enough to know who’s cool now.
I bet I’m not the only one that has felt this way, and the weird part is that I haven’t really felt this way in a while. I had a pretty healthy self-image in High School and college, but there were always those moments where I felt like I didn’t fit in, or other people were better than me. Someone else got a phone call to go somewhere, but my phone never rang.
Ultimately, I think these feelings come from two different lies I’ve told myself. The lie that I need to be important, and the lie that I’m not good enough.
I Need to Feel Important
The desire to be “cool” in High School is really a matter of feeling important. We want people to think we’re a somebody and not a nobody. Fitting in and measuring yourself against others in the social hierarchy of High School really boils down to feeling accepted. Are there other people that care about me? Are there other people that care about me enough to pursue a relationship with me? I need people to care about me because that is what makes me valuable.
A big mitigating factor in this equation has been getting married. When you get married, and you commit the rest of your life to someone, that makes you feel really darn cool. My wife loves and accepts me so much that she wanted to marry me. It’s hard to walk around and doubt whether anyone values you, because you’re already in the strongest relationship two humans can have. Our marriage is as strong as it has ever been though, so where is this perceived deficiency of relationship coming from?
I think one factor has been the idea that I need to feel important. When I’m putting “being important” up on a pedestal, and it seems like people aren’t taking notice, then that has poked some holes in my ego. I’ve made the thoughts of others a little too important. I care what others think, but that shouldn’t be what drives me or gives my life meaning. My relationship with Christ should give me all the meaning that I need, and I should have healthy expectations of myself and others.
So when I say I don’t “feel cool,” maybe what I’m really saying is, “I wish people thought about me more. I wish people thought I was important.”
I’m Not Good Enough
As we see other people posting about what they’re doing on social media, or when other people don’t seem to be as interested in pursuing relationships with us, it can make us feel like we’re not good enough. This is how I feel after the “I’m not important enough” bubble has been burst.
I think this is another lie though. Not only should I not be pursuing “importance” in the minds of others, I shouldn’t assume I’m not good enough when my own self-imposed ego goals aren’t met. Of course we should all be striving to be better people, and work on whatever shortcomings we have, but relationships are complicated.
Am I even making room in my life for other people? That’s hard to do when you’re married and have kids and work. A huge chunk of our time is already committed to something, so pursuing friendships is automatically moved down the list of priorities. If I want to pursue friendships, then I have to make that a priority in my own life.
Not Appreciating What I Have
When surveying the land of friendships and seeing what others have or what they’re doing, it’s easy to get jealous. It’s like getting jealous over what people drive or where they live. We forget about the things we do have.
I have some amazing friendships that I should be far more grateful for than I am. I’m definitely “cool” to those people in the sense that they accept me, and want a relationship with me. But instead of seeing the investment those people make in me, I focus on the people that aren’t investing in me, and that’s not fair to anyone. It’s not fair to the friendships I do have. It’s not fair to myself to think that if I had just one more friend, my ego would be satisfied.
I want healthy friendships that enrich my life, and I want to be a good friend that makes their life better too. That means I need some healthy expectations, and a little more conviction that it’s not all about me.