Most of us can remember a time in our life when we desperately longed to be part of the "in" crowd, sitting at the cool kids' table. Maybe some of you got there. I never did. I don't know about the rest of you rejects, but it wasn't always easy to accept my lower social standing and I coped with it in any number of ways. One of my favorites was to outflank the cool kids and try to be too cool for the cool.
I'm 36 years old and ashamed to admit I worried about social acceptance and conformity a lot more and a lot longer than I should have and I haven't completely eradicated it from my mind, even now. As a result, yeah, I still sometimes reach for some of those crutches when I sense I've fallen short.
I know what you're thinking and you're right. It's scary to think I could have any consideration for getting along with people and still act the way I do. It's scarier still to think what I'd be like if I truly didn't give a shit.
Getting back on track, though, I've seen the error of my way and tried to step out of that kind of shallow, sheltered thinking. I'm trying to learn to better accept me for me and not worry about what one group or another is going to think. I'm trying to find the right balance that allows me to navigate the world in harmony with the voices in my head and the people around me. It's a work in progress.
One step in that direction? I went out and bought the new Vampire Weekend record today. I started to hear some hype about the record from certain corners of the web and blogosphere and got my hackles up, thinking this was another one of those bands you're "supposed" to like. My kneejerk reaction was to not like them without hearing them, making myself cooler than the cool kids. I realized that was a legally retarded and criminally lazy way to approach music. Why deny myself something I might like because of trendiness. Maybe the music is actually good. Wouldn't that be horrible? To buy a CD and later have to admit I liked it? Oh, God, give me a bullet.
So I overcame myself and went and bought the album and I've listened to it all the way through once and started to pick through some of the individual tracks. It's not love at first listen but I'm not ready to cast it aside as a waste of time and money. "California English" has a cute mix of organic and synthetic sounds creating polyrhythms and the use of voice-as-instrument is clever and effective, which is a simplified explanation of the formula used over the course of the record.
Wherever I wind up regarding Vampire Weekend, today was a victory for me. I took one small step forward towards a better version of me and it only cost $10.