Sunday, December 26, 2004

Last post in the Coolness series

What I learned from my Heather exercise:

1. At the age of ten, I’d given away, to Heather, the power to decide whether I’m cool or not.

In some alternate universe, Heather reacted by saying “wow, stickers! Great!” So does that mean that over there stickers are cool, and in our universe they are not? No, of course not. It just means that I still loved stickers, and Heather didn’t. To me, they were still cool. And even if all the other girls in the class didn’t feel the same way, they were still cool, to me, because I thought so. The coolness of stickers waxes and wanes when I decide it does, not when Heather decides it does.

Same thing with my Return of the Jedi cards.

And my bunny slippers.

And same thing with me, if a guy decides I’m not his type. I’m still my type. I have the power to determine my own value. And I’m going to (try to) stop giving that power away!

(Go, Different People!)

2. There are two kinds of popular girls.

Heather was a Mean Girl. She drew her power from making other people feel small, and dividing the class into “cool” people (who did things she liked) and “not cool people” (who did things like trade stickers). I’m sure she did not do this consciously, but that is the effect that she had.

Then there is the Truly Popular Girl, who draws her power from acknowledging the good of others. The TPG is the poised, confident girl who everyone thinks is their best friend, the one who is liked by the cool kids, the dweebs, the jocks, the artists, everyone, because she genuinely likes them. Instead of rolling her eyes, she’d say “hey, you guys have a great time trading stickers! Rock on! Do your thing! And when you’re done, come to my place to watch a movie, okay?” She’s the real-life feminine version of Ferris Bueller.

As Shimmy says: “No one remembers what you say to them. But they’ll always remember how you made them feel.” A Mean Girl makes people feel afraid and sad. After graduation, everyone hopes they never see her again. A Truly Popular Girl makes people feel valued for who they are. Not because she’s fawning and needy, but because she really does think they are valuable. And that is why she’s Truly Popular.

If you had a TPG or TPB in your school, please post about it. These folk should be celebrated.

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