I just want to be loved, be liked, be accepted, “be cool.”
I swear, this has been a pursuit for my entire life. “Being Cool– The NeverEnding Quest.”
More like “Being Cool– The NeverSatisfying Quest.”
Heck, let’s be honest– that’s sometimes why I write stuff on here. There’s this special plug-in I got recently called “Site Stats” that lets me know how many people have been coming to EvanWeppler.com. Before I got the plug-in, I was pretty down about the feedback I got from people– which was zero. I hardly ever got comments, messages, or affirmation, and thus I assumed no one was reading. But this plug-in was a curse and a blessing. Because I can see that despite getting no comments (of course, I have almost disabled that option anyway), plenty of people visit the site. But it’s also a curse, because now I can quantify my worth in clicks and visitors.
Ahhh– isn’t life a monster sometimes? It’s like a Gremlin from the movie Gremlins. At times it’s cute and nice and you feed it your time and efforts and attention– and then it gets ugly and messes you up! You put too much effort into work and your social life suffers. You care too much about what one person thinks of you and when they ignore you, everything falls apart. Life sucks sometimes.
But it’s The NeverEnding Quest. We want to be cool, be popular, be liked, be loved. And that’s not a bad thing, in itself. We were made to be loved. Loved by God and loved by each other. But we seek to fill in our emptiness with things that don’t satisfy– Site Stats and gossip and “attempts at coolness.”
I had a whole bunch of those attempts growing up. Fifth grade was a monster of a year. I ditched a group of friends that I’d been close with for a while for the “more popular” kids. Not “the popular” kids. I couldn’t fit in with Mark and JJ and the others. But I sure could move up in the social sphere (and yes, these spheres exist all through life.) These new friends weren’t bad– but what I did to my old friends was.
This was also the year that I had an immense crush on a girl (one of many.) I swear, I could read to you from my journal some of my thoughts from fifth grade and we would laugh and laugh– but at the time, it was life or death. I even hung a sign up on the door of my bedroom, a sign that said “My Name is Evan Depressed Weppler.” (Who’d have thunk it that I’d encounter true depression later in life?)
Around this time, media was real important to me as well. I watched “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and Sabrina said her boyfriend Harvey was “dreamy” because he had long sideburns– so what did I do? I grew out the hair in my sideburns– though this was futile, because I had not yet hit puberty and I had no facial hair. So what did I do? I had my barber leave the hair the grew along my sideburns– the hair from my head, that is. So I had these weird, long wisps of hair growing down my face– not sideburns, just weirdness. I wanted to be cool like Harvey, cool enough to get the girl.
Not sure it worked.
I also watched a Disney movie called “Genius” that year– it was about a boy named Charlie Boyle (great geek name) who pretended to be another kid named Chaz (great jock name) and became popular, cool, and got the girl. I remember crying into my journal, wishing I could be cool like Chaz, wishing that I wasn’t such a mess.
I could go on and on.
Talk about my feelings of low self-worth after seeing the movie “Casper Meets Wendy” (starring the young Hilary Duff) and knowing that no girl like that would ever like me.
Talk about my pursuits through middle school, high school, and college to be popular, be liked, “be cool.”
But what’s the point? We all have these stories. We all have had experiences where we’ve felt low and worthless and stupid. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy the TV show “Glee” so much– though it’s terrible and terribly unreal, it often gives the “losers” comeuppance and shows the unloved finding love. It’s a show about the human condition– with a few Journey songs thrown in.
I wish I could say that things are fine now, that I learned my lesson, that I am completely secure in my own skin today. But that’s not the truth. Sometimes I wear a mask and sometimes I let people see me in my poor estate. Sometimes life is a monster. But there are a few things that have helped me over the years.
The Blessed Outcasts
I have to say, without Trent, Shala, Sam, Lisa, and JD (and a few others), I wouldn’t be where I am today. These were my dear friends in seventh and eighth grade. They helped me open up and be myself and be weird. We weren’t perfect, by any means. We all still wanted to be liked and accepted, but we had each other’s backs. And I’m still good friends with some of them today.
There were also role models, school friends, and leaders who helped me feel accepted– or at least settle into the state of being weird.
And then in high school, though I had a few different groups that helped me find myself, it was my lunch group that helped me feel loved. We all felt like outcasts (whether or not we were… sometimes perception is stronger than reality). We would sit at the table at the far end of the cafeteria, and anyone was welcome. We were all weirdos and loved each other for our weirdness. I felt safe in that group, and though time has gone by, some of us are still close.
(You can even see us embarrass ourselves in this YouTube video.)
It comes down to the people in your life- my family, my friends, they made the difference. Perhaps this isn’t what John was writing about in his letter, but this truth remains: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 John 4:8, NIV). The love that you receive from one person can cover up the hate, rejection, teasing, pain, and ignorance of a thousand. Victor Hugo, in Les Miserables, also put it this way: “To love another person is to see the face of God.” So what has helped me in this pursuit for coolness are people that have redirected my efforts, who have told me “You don’t have to try to be cool– you already are.” People that stuck with me through the good times and the bad times. People that didn’t try to fix me– trust me, I was already trying to fix myself– but just wanted to be with me. And I learned that I had to do that for other people– accept them for who they are, speak truth into their lives, and just be with them. That old maxim does hold true: “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” So often we go around searching for someone to be our best friend, when the people we really needed were there all along.
First, thank you to Staja Moschetta for introducing me to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This test gave me insight into my personality, helped me see why I often felt so weird and different from everyone. My type, INFJ, is the rarest of all 16 types– only 1% of the population is INFJ. And no, that doesn’t make me special or “cool” in my weirdness, but it’s nice to understand why I often feel on the outs. After all, “Knowledge is Power!”
As I entered college, we had to take the StrengthsFinder assesment, and my top five strengths were posted on the door of my dorm room all year. At times, I didn’t feel like they really reflected my identity, but I could see how they played out in my life. I do value Connectedness and Responsibility. I do have strong Belief and enjoy Input and Context. Finding out things that made me unique and strong in my own way helped me feel comfortable with who I was.
Finally in grad school, we took the Enneagram test. Though I’ve taken it a few times and gotten a variety of results (I really need to take it with a professional officially), I often end up being Type 9. Facts like these aren’t comforting, but they help me understand myself more: “We have sometimes called the Nine the crown of the Enneagram because it is at the top of the symbol and because it seems to include the whole of it.” “However, what they generally do not have is a sense of really inhabiting themselves—a strong sense of their own identity. Being a separate self, an individual who must assert herself against others, is terrifying to Nines. They would rather melt into someone else or quietly follow their idyllic daydreams.” “They are usually creative, optimistic, and supportive, but can also be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace.” This test helped me see the dangers and weaknesses of my personality– and how I need Christ. I need him to be the source of my identity, not the opinions of others or even my own uniqueness– I need to find stability and peace in my relationship with God and who He has made me to be.
That is why I have been working towards this icur (In Christ You Are) project. I could give you my pitch here and now, and you can read about it here and here and here. But the truth of the matter is this– we have to find our identity in Christ. Everything else in life– friends, family, environment, occupation, hobbies– they all change. Only God remains the same. When we are lost in love with God, we find ourselves, because only He truly matters.
His voice is the only voice that matters. That’s why we must find people and other tools that echo His voice. As Zephaniah says, He is constantly singing over us a song of love. And this is what He says:
You are loved.
By the blood of Jesus, you are redeemed.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
You are beautiful.
You are made to be a reflection of Christ.
You are created for good works.
You are cool.
Well, maybe God doesn’t say that last phrase. Because in the end, cool doesn’t matter. A simple definition shows its vain futility- “cool = fashionably attractive or impressive.” Fashion comes and goes. Attractiveness comes and goes. Impressions come and go. Only God remains. And His voice, His favor, His love is all that matters.
In Christ, you are you– and He is zealous for you.
So in the end, it doesn’t matter if I get a bunch of views on my website. I will still set out on this NeverEnding Quest time and time again– that’s what happens when we doubt and fear and get lost. We think everyone else has it all together– but we’re all lost, we’re all broken, we all need Christ.
In the end, I hope I can always arrive back at this truth: Doesn’t matter if I’m cool. I’m loved– and that’s all that matters.
(But I would still like it if you read my posts! Thanks!)