May 16th, 2015

cap, captain miss america

The Cool Kids' Table

I know a lot of the people I know on the internet are folks who were never the “cool kids” when they were younger.

And sometimes you run into people who seem resentful of this, and seem to think that now that they’re adults, it’s their turn, now they get to exclude people from things.

But one of the things I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is that sometimes the kids that the rest of us thought we the “cool kids” never considered themselves to be the “cool kids.”

There may be varying degrees of correctness in that assumption, but there’s one thing that stands out as true: adolescence is a bitch, and everyone has memories of being excluded, left out, picked on, trying to fit in, trying to impress, and often failing.

We all do. We all have a memory of an outfit we bought that we thought was SO AWESOME that other kids mocked, or a memory of that boy or girl who kissed us “on a dare” or “as a joke,” of being picked on for having big boobs or no boobs, too much or not enough facial hair, for being awkward or wearing glasses or having acne or covered in body hair and not allowed to shave yet.

And we have a memory of a group of other kids who all seemed happy and all seemed to have a sense of belonging, like some golden light was shining down on them, and how badly we wanted to be one of them, if we were one of them, all our problems would be over.

But here’s the trick: now you’re a grownup. And yeah, you’re going to run into people who like you and people who don’t. And sometimes you’re going to meet a new person and they’re going to like you. And I don’t mean in a romantic sense. I mean they’re going to want to hang out with you and listen to what you have to say and your head will be going HOLY FUCK THIS PERSON IS SO GORGEOUS AND SMART AND TALENTED WHY ARE THEY TALKING TO ME WHY IS IT ME THEY WANT TO HANG OUT WITH.

And that? That is because now you are the cool kids’ table. Who sat at that table when you were a kid doesn’t matter anymore. Now you’re assembling your own table. And you get to pick who sits at it. If someone’s a jerk to you or your friends, you don’t have to give them a seat at your table.

And you can be that person who remembers being left out and decide this is your turn to be the gatekeeper, and try to keep people away from your table because they’re not as talented or not as experienced or skilled or rich or capable or whatever. Because you do get to pick.

But you can also keep the people who are kind and care about others even if they’re not the best at every little thing, you can teach them about the things you love in common and they’ll learn, and they’ll probably teach you something in return. And that is the really fucking coolest kids’ table