I Wasn’t as Cool as I Thought I Was

This issue is all about our favorite things, and like most people, my favorite things have significantly changed over the span of my life. While my devotion to all things Pocahontas still stands, I’ve had many embarrassing favorite things, and because I’m a Scorpio and it’s in my astrological nature to be obsessive, those favorite things were never just “things”- they were a lifestyle.

I’d like to point out that I’m digging deep, deep, deep into the dark recesses of my brain (and the internet) to compile this complete, unabridged guide to my awkward teen years. The second hand embarrassment I feel for 12 year old me cannot be described.

In the seventh grade, my best friend was “in lurve” with a boy with spiky cherry red hair. He listened to GWAR and AC/DC and wore ripped jeans and black band shirts. Because I’m such a good friend, in an act of divine sisterhood, I stood with her throughout her angst-driven 7th grade year and supported her obsession. Together, we dug through the dark depths of “classic rock” and transformed ourselves from country bumpkins/top 40 listeners to 80’s hair band experts. I’d blog on my xanga about how awesome and totally under appreciated “real” music was. My bio stated that I loved “AC/DC, Korn, Kiss, Bon Jovi && all that good stuff!” No blog entry was complete without “musik=mi lyfe” stuck somewhere on the page, usually surrounded by sappy quotes written by thirteen year old girls on the internet about feeling lost and alone and invisible.  When I broke up with my boyfriend, I sat in my room and cried to “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” for two days before blasting Joan Jett to get over it. I started drinking coffee (a habit that has yet to go away) and I developed insane bowling skills because spending my weekends at the bowling alley was so uncool, it was cool. Individualism FTW.

Around eighth grade, my best friend moved out of the hair band stage and became more “normal”. I didn’t. I got swept up into the neon land of leg warmers called the 1980s and declared it my home for a solid year. If Poison didn’t want me, then by god, I was going to memorize “99 Luftballons” in German and nobody was going to stop me. I idolized Molly Ringwald and her various onscreen counterparts, even though I faced internal conflict when I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to be The Princess or The Basket Case in The Breakfast Club of my life. At the highest point of my obsession, I knew more about the decade than my own mom and could list off VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of the 80’s like nobody’s business. Still to this day, I think that “Don’t Stop Believing” was robbed (it didn’t even make the top ten!). I raided my mom’s closet for bright tights and cut off sweatshirts. I even started crimping my hair because I wanted poof and strived towards maximum volume. Eventually, somewhere between my 17458th listen of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and a trip to Europe, I decided that living in the past was too much work for me, and I proceeded to hand in the metaphorical leg warmers.

Then came high school. I trolled myspace searching for “unknown” bands that none of those posers in my high school would have ever heard of. This was the year I discovered band merch, street teams and pop punk. I went to my first Metro Station and Simple Plan concerts and Trace Cyrus spit on me. I thought it was the happiest day of my life. I can still feel the bruises from being slammed against the front-row gate during Simple Plan’s beautiful and totally life-changing rendition of “Welcome To My Life”. (It was like Pierre was speaking to my soul. He understood. He got me). I got fire engine red highlights in my hair (in my defense it was an accident) and stole my ex-boyfriend’s beanie because now I was a scene kid. I’d color my hair with highlighters and draw fake tattoos on myself in hopes that one day they’d become real. I’d stare longingly at pictures of nose piercings and industrials, thinking to myself, “When I’m 18, this is going to happen.” I’m 20 now and the closest I’ve come to a nose ring was getting my cartilage pierced for $50 by a Russian mobster on the Wildwood Boardwalk. During these years, I thought Pete Wentz’s eyeliner was the key to unlocking my soul, and my iPod flourished with Cute Is What We Aim For and other pop-punk bands from the midwest that all proceeded to sound the same.

I think around the eleventh grade I actually began to evolve into a real human being who learned to keep her obsessive and crazy nature in check. By that point, I was over the scene phase (even though I still longed for a nose piercing), knew the words to all my 80s favorites, and occasionally pulled out the dingy band t-shirts and dirty Chuck Taylors just for shits and giggles. It may have taken years to get to the point of total and utter acceptance of my life choices, but I got there eventually.

No matter how much we may hate it, everyone has let their favorite things define them. Whether it be AC/DC or Fall Out Boy, Star Trek or Harry Potter, it doesn’t matter. We’ve all trekked down that dark and lonely road, willingly or not. Favorite things shape us, make us, and break us and the entire world would just be a much better place if we could all accept the fact that at one point in our lives, we made terrible, terrible decisions and let it go. Nobody is going to judge you because of your favorite band in seventh grade or a terrible hairstyle choice you made your freshman year in high school. It’s time we all learn to stop holding grudges against our past selves and move on with our lives. We are constantly evolving and that’s what’s super awesome about the human nature. Sometimes those evolutions can be less than stellar, but it’s what makes us who we are. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so why the hell should you expect me to completely have my shit together? It may be hard to believe, but I didn’t pop out of the womb this awesome.

There’s a little piece of me in all of you. Don’t deny it. Awkward teen years are a common bond that link every person on this planet together. So let us share our stories and bond over times long forgotten (or times we long to forget) and then take a deep breath and let it roll right off our shoulders and never think about it again until we’re having our mid-life crises and attending weekly therapy sessions.

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