Cool kids make crappy friends.
I’ve learned many surprising things as I’ve grown older.
It turns out that I like Chinese food, I appreciate long, hot baths, and Prairie Home Companion really is delightful.
But perhaps the most surprising things I’ve learned have been about friendship, and how your adult friendships directly impact your overall sense of happiness — in ways that your younger self could never really understand.
To put it plainly, when you become a grown-up, you quickly realize that your “cool friends” are AWFUL. Just awful.
They’re literally the worst people ever.
Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t have interesting friends or friends you admire. It’s wonderful to have friends that you respect and revere. That’s important. You want to have a group of peers that you lovingly describe with every amazing adjective in the book. However, the word “cool” should be a red flag.
If you have friends that you’d primarily describe with the word “cool,” that speaks to a deficiency in your relationship.
When I was younger, I wanted cool friends so badly. I wanted to have friends that were musicians and artists. I wanted friends that hooked up all the time and had awesome cars. I wanted friends that I could live vicariously through.
I coveted their coolness, which made me overlook so many other horrible things about them.
Because “cool” friends, far too often, are deeply aware that they’re cool. They know what you’re doing. They know why you look at them with such admiration in their eyes and they feed off that.
In reality, their coolness makes you ignore the fact that they’re shallow, immature, self-centered, obnoxious, humorless — they use that “cool” adjective to obscure all of the other descriptive words that really define what they’re truly like.
In high school and college, I spent way too much time trying to curry favor with the cool kids.
I drove them everywhere. I helped them set up for their shitty coffee-house performances. I told them how much I loved their tacky, uninspired art.
And, in return, they gave me nothing.
They never called to invite me to a movie. They never helped me move. They never asked how my day was.
I was a part of their social circle, but they always regarded themselves as the circle’s center. They were the fixed point that the rest of circle revolved around. And they weren’t wrong.
But, eventually, as I grew older, I realized that orbiting around a dead, lifeless sun — a sun that gives nothing, but takes everything — simply isn’t worth it. Even if the sun has awesome tattoos and gets free concert tickets from his cousin.
So, as I started to mature, I began noticing what it was about other people that really made me happy. I liked people who were unpretentious, who had empathy, who were self-deprecating. THOSE were the people I wanted to be friends with.
Maybe they weren’t as exciting on the surface. Maybe they worked at a bank rather than working at a gallery. Maybe they studied at a state university rather than spending their college years backpacking abroad.
But my “uncool” friends were funny and kind and honest and they reciprocated. Our friendships were mutually beneficial, not just comically one-sided, and, ultimately, they were so much more rewarding.
Now I have no patience for cool friends.
If you expect me to come to your opening, but can’t sit still while I talk about my kid for five minutes, I don’t need you in my life.
You’re not making me happy. You’re not improving my life. You’re looking for an audience rather than a friend.
And I can do better than that. We all can. So, if you have friends in your life that are more “cool” than anything else, do yourself a favor and trade up. Because there are much better adjectives out there and you deserve a better class of friends.