Kozo Hattori finds comfort in being a nerd.
In high school, I was that guy who “discovered” all the popular bands before they became popular. I was into U2, Duran Duran, and Tears for Fears before the rest of America knew there was music in the UK.
When I became a teacher, my mission was to be the coolest teacher on campus. I listened to all the newest music, quoted from the latest YouTube videos, and limo-tinted the windows on my Acura TSX.
Well, after 48 years of chasing after the elusive aura of coolness, I’m done. Here are 5 reasons I’m through being cool.
Being cool costs money. Since I’ve given up being cool, I no longer strive to make 200k per year to afford a house where I can plug in a newly purchased Tesla Model S. I shop at Old Navy rather than Banana Republic because I don’t care what my jeans look like as long as they keep me warm.
My lack of needing to be cool takes a lot of pressure off my sons. They no longer need to score four goals every soccer game to make up for the fact that I rode the bench as a varsity senior before they were born. I don’t worry about whether my sons are gay or straight, Christian or Buddhist, Republican or Democrat. I just love them for who they are whether that is cool or not.
Being cool is measured by the views of others. The coolest people in society are not the ones who think they are cool, but the ones who everyone else thinks are cool. Living a life catering to the opinions of others can be exhausting. It is so much easier being my authentic self.
I had the opportunity to interview the former CEO of Juniper Networks, Scott Kriens, on his work with authenticity. Kriens defined authenticity as “when someone is sharing what they believe as opposed to what they want you to believe.” Not caring what others think liberates me to be who I truly am.
When I stopped competing with others about who was cooler, I started really connecting with them. I listen to what they say rather than wait for an opportunity to display my superior wit and wisdom.
I also stopped competing with my wife on who was the better parent, driver, arguer, or breadwinner and began to appreciate her presence, support, and goofiness.
It is a lot easier to love myself when I don’t have to be cool. I don’t find myself thinking, “You idiot. What on earth were you thinking when you said that in front of all those people?” Or “I can’t believe you still don’t know how to dance. You look ridiculous doing the Breakfast Club dance to Pharrell.”
I’ve realized that this is who I am. I may not be cool, but I love being the Prius driving, Old Navy clad, obscure stay at home dad playing wall ball with my sons after school.
How have you escaped from the cult of coolness? I will respond to all comments and questions.