Being Cool is the Fonz’s Job

“Thanks for letting me have friends over. I always feel happy after spending time with them,” Hannah said as we drove away from her friends’ house. We had just wrapped up a sleepover with Hannah’s silly twin sister friends, Trista and Jenna*.

“I’m glad you had fun,” I said.

“Kids at school are always trying to act older than they are. They’re afraid of not looking cool,” she told me. “But with Trista and Jenna, we don’t care if we look silly, we just have fun and act our age without worrying what we look like. I just want to be a kid while I’m a kid.”

Impressive observations for a 13-year-old.

I told her that it was good that she realized that and was making a conscious decision to let herself be vulnerable. “Lots of people have fear of being judged so they spend a lot of time editing themselves. Brené Brown calls ‘cool’ an emotional straightjacket. You care less what people think as you get older, but some adults still wear the straightjacket.“

“Yeah,” she agreed. “It’s a bummer.”

And it is a bummer. Because cool is overrated. And pretending to be someone else is exhausting. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

*Not their real names


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