I want to talk about being “cool” vs. being “weird.” Which one is better??

Gotcha! That’s a trick question. Being cool and being weird are the same thing.

A few years ago, I wrote about the new-wave definition of “cool girl,” with women like Mindy Kaling, Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone, and Zooey Deschanel leading the way. None of these women became “cool” by trying to fit into a mainstream look or behavior. They became “cool” by being weird.

emma stone

There’s nothing inherently wrong with being “mainstream.” I’m mainstream in many ways, and totally comfortable with that. I like my skinny jeans and blow-dried hair and the occasional piece of Stella & Dot jewelry. It only becomes a problem if you think being mainstream is “better” than walking to the beat of your own drum…which I do a lot, too, for the record. I mean…have you read this blog? No? Welcome! Have a look around!

Recently, I saw someone (managing a blog is all about being super allusive when talking about specific people and events…) post something on social media that called a few individuals I know and love “weird AF.” (AF stands for “As Funyuns,” obviously.) As delicious as Funyuns are, it’s clear that the person who posted this did not realize that “weird” is actually a good thing. His/her understanding of the world seemingly hasn’t developed to the point of recognizing that just because certain people aren’t mainstream in their appearances or hobbies, doesn’t mean they’re any less awesome.

I was [obviously] pretty upset when I read those words about people I love, sadly realizing that we still live in a world where grown adults put one another down based on society’s ego and money-driven definition of “cool.” High schoolers losing sight of the bigger picture is one thing, but adults? I just can’t handle that.

I have nothing against dressing trendy or enjoying popular T.V. shows or adopting modern slang. If you like to contour your face with makeup or use a wand curler or wear white converses, do it. I’m actually on the hunt for a nice pair of white sneakers, myself. But take a look at the side-by-side pictures below, and gauge your reaction– if you immediately think one of these girls is “better” or more worthy of your friendship than the other based on mainstream vs. alternative appearances, you need to check yourself:

mainstream v alternative

I actually think the outfit on the right is super cute, but I think you get the gist as to which is a more “popular” or trendy look.

I don’t care if someone’s hair is bright red, purple, orange, mousey brown, has a perm from 1980s, or is frizzier than Hermione Granger’s hair as a first year. I don’t care if they wear pocketless flare jeans from 2001. I don’t care if they enjoy anime, listen only to screamo music, or have a room full of science fiction posters. I don’t care if their humor isn’t the “lovably awkward and real” humor that has now become popular because Jennifer Lawrence’s personality became a trend in and of itself. Being the “right kind” of weird is like an art these days! Sheesh. (Don’t get me wrong, I love JLaw.)

Look me in the eye. Right now. Stare at my pupils as I tell you this: Those things I just mentioned do not matter. They do not make someone uncool. They do not mean you can’t find anything in common with that person. They do not make that person an acceptable target for petty ridicule. Because– newsflash– there is no such thing as “an acceptable target for petty ridicule.”

The people I know who were called “weird AF” in the aforementioned social media post are the kindest people I know. They don’t care about trendy fashion, nor are they overtly outgoing people who are immediately comfortable around strangers. Nonetheless, they are some of the most hilarious, easy-going, and loving people I’ve ever met. To me, they are perfectly weird because they’re unabashedly true to themselves, and don’t get caught up in behaving the way they think they’re “supposed” to act. If anything, they’re way cooler than people who revolve their choices around society’s impossible standards.

I’ve said this a million times on this blog, but everybody’s weird. Some of us might be a little more comfortable living in the mainstream world, but please remember that being mainstream is just a preference, not a form of hierarchy. I promise you that even the most fashionable, beautiful, witty, and popular people in the world are big ole freaks when they’re alone. And if someone isn’t weird, they’re boring, and probably trying too hard to live for the approval of others.

I hate feeling like I’m a somewhat mainstream girl “standing up” for “weirdos,” because you know what? Alternative-types really don’t need that sort of validation, or someone to come running to their defense. Being weird is freeing, so they’re doing just fine. If anything, I felt compelled to write this blog post as a reality check for anyone who might be a little swept up in the high school version of “cool.” I promise that your life will be a whole lot more fulfilling if you take a leaf out of those weirdos’ book.

Marching to the beat of your own drum is always the way to go, not only because you are gaining confidence from the beauty of your own individuality, but you’re able to define “fun” in whatever way you’re naturally inclined to enjoy life. You’re free to like what you like, and will therefore enjoy life so much more! Trying to mold yourself into a cookie cutter sense of “self” is no “self” at all…and is certainly the fastest way to dim your inner light that was meant to shine. Not to mention, you won’t build as many true, deep, and lasting friendships.

I actually hope someone calls me weird AF, too (and maybe some people already do), because it would be a sign that I’m doing a good job maintaining my individuality. And being an individual is cool. With that, I’m off to listen to the musical theatre station on Pandora while I paint a canvas and post more pictures on Instagram than what’s considered the “chill” amount. Bring on the Funyuns!

funyun