the cool kids

Before I start this self-indulgent, whiny post that I encourage everyone to just skip on over –hopefully the Friday Five will be posted before anyone even has to see this–not sure why I feel the need to blog it except I’ve been trying to journal it, but that hasn’t exorcised it–I would like to apologize to the friend whose comment I am blatantly going to use as a way in. This is not about THAT, but, you know, I have to have an introduction.

I discovered today that I am not one of the “Cool Kids.” Now, this should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me. I have never been one of the “cool kids.” I never aspired to be one of the “cool kids.” I pretty much looked down on the “cool kids.” I was one of the “smart kids.” Only it turns out that even among the “smart kids,” among one of the nerdiest, geekiest groups possible, English graduate students, I’m still not one of the “cool kids.” Though I don’t know precisely who the “Cool Kids” are, I do know that I am friends, or at least very friendly acquaintances, with several of them. I’m just not one of them. There are myriad reasons for this. Since I’m not really certain who they are, I’m not even sure which of the reasons applies. I’m thinking it’s because I bonded with my mentor group and we didn’t think to dub ourselves the “Cool Kids;” I was older and went home to my cat on Friday (and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, etc.) nights; I hung out with my cousin in Indianapolis; oh, yeah, and I went home over the first summer, fell in love, spent the next year on the phone in the evenings, spent every vacation out of town, and left to get married at the end of the two-year Master’s program. That I have as many friendships as I do from those two years still kind of amazes me (as I wrote here). But there was this group of people, and I was somewhat peripheral to them, and they were very smart and very funny and they really kind of were the “Cool Kids,” at least in my mind. So it’s kind of funny that they called themselves that, even if they were doing it ironically.

I do find my own way, but it’s generally on the periphery of things.

At UCR, I really never was part of the “cool kids,” though, again, I am friends with some of them. And, again, there are reasons for that. Mostly, I was, by that point, even older and I was newly married, living in the next city over, and eager to get home to my husband. So on FB I see these photos of events to which I’m not invited–but I’m FB friends with some of the invitees–and I feel a little wistful. Whatever. And there’s that old high school conundrum–would I even want to go if I were invited? And then would I go out of a feeling that, if someone invites me I should go, or would I stay home and risk not being invited the next time. Welcome to my brain. It hurts sometimes.

There are also other things like people getting job interviews and I’m starting to feel like an also ran, even though I didn’t expect anything.

But here’s the real reason for this post, the thing I can’t seem to shake off. A month or so ago, where I was starting to feel like I was fitting in (and I do know we’re “in”), someone said to me, “Here’s an opportunity. I think it could be a good one. Think about it.” And I did think about it, and I really, really liked the idea. So I waited, as I was told, for the invitation to be given. And I was going to make myself make the phone call (a difficult thing indeed for me.) And then the invitation never came. So I kind of put it aside, not sure what had happened. But then, without anyone being aware of the earlier conversation, another person started blithely telling a group of us how she had been given this opportunity. Wow. I felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach. And I couldn’t react like that. And I am happy for her. And I can see how she’s a great candidate for the opportunity. And it’s probably better than if it were me. But I don’t really know how and why the choice was made (it was going to be a kind of open call, and then that never happened, so it was a very intentional choice and I was not the one chosen.) So I’m very happy for her, but I’m so disappointed for myself, and I don’t feel like I can even say anything because (a) it would seem (and be) petty and (b) the person who mentioned the opportunity to me might feel bad and I would never want that–it wasn’t her decision to make, though she probably had some influence on it, and when she talked to me she was just thinking out loud. And I wouldn’t want her to think she can’t do that. She may not even remember the conversation. I don’t know.

So. Whatever. But I think I needed to be able to say this somewhere, so here it is. Now it’s time to get over myself and move on.

And, for the record, a few minutes ago, I got an invitation to join the “Cool Kids.”

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3 Responses to the cool kids

  1. Leslie says:

    It’s funny, but I really think everybody feels that they’re on the outside sometimes. Well, not everybody–we all know some glittery, golden people who seem to be universally beloved–but almost everybody. I definitely felt older and more cat-inclined when I arrived in the M.A. program, and when I bonded with my group of friends it often felt like we were connected because we were ALL sort of outsiders, a band of misfits whose parents were all so damned blue-collar, a group of also-rans who couldn’t even exhale until the student loan check rolled in, and couldn’t afford to travel internationally or dress decently. But I understand that this is more upsetting when it is related to professional opportunities. We are faced with such scarcity…in a tight market, if even one opportunity comes down to networking, networking becomes a very big deal. This is bad news for me (and maybe for you, too) since it causes me literal physical pain to lobby for what I want. Anyway, I’ve been there, too, fairly recently and it’s not a good feeling…I hope it passes for both of us soon.

  2. I’m not the only one who feels this way! Funny to think that there are probably people out there who are envious of us and the opportunities that come to us, even as we were waiting/watching/hoping for other opportunities, people who are envious of our comfortable domesticity, and on and on I could go.

    Thanks for your honesty here.

  3. angela says:

    From the perspective of time it is what happened and nothing changes that. However, how you react from then on is up to you. Did your parents ever say ‘rise above it’? My mom did, a lot. More like, I expect you to take this in the best possible way and move on. Even with practice it is not easy though.

    I still agonize over whether I am doing the right thing about everything. And sometimes I just live and seems like both are pretty close.

    Once I moved to live with my dad as a kid and decided I was going to be popular. What I thought that meant I don’t know. But it cured me. I’ve never had to talk and listen like Dear Abby so much in my life. And I’m kinda tough about interpersonal stuff. Even at 14 I had a low b.s. meter and little patience with any sort of gossip or backbiting and I would just cut to the chase as I saw it. Afterwards I remember creating my own trends when I felt like it and being part of the depression club when I didn’t.

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