My life has been run by cool.

Cool is an image. Depending on the group you want to “fit” in with, you must provide a standardized image to be accepted.

I grew up with the idea that being accepted created the happiest Kevin. I was comfortable when I had a group of friends around, when what I said and did created attention, and I was somewhat unique in my group of similar boys.

The best example to describe this is the first day of elementary school, when a boy or girl sees a group of people talking, laughing, and doing something interesting or fun they want to join in and instinctually follow their human need of companionship and sharing the adventure of emotions and finding out what life has to offer. The boy or girl does what they can to get their attention and join in. They may “play” for a while with this group, but once that boy or girl does something abnormal, that group of friends will ignore them or make fun of them or something like this. The boy or girl is humiliated and may lose self-esteem if their parents or someone does not reason with the situation (if they bury it down like most people do). Over a long period of time the boy or girl goes through this enough times to realize how to avoid this negative. Avoiding a negative usually becomes a dead-end that most tend to circle with and close a door that becomes difficult to re-open. So, the boy or girl continues to figure out how to not be made fun of and eventually becomes near “perfect” at putting out this image that is socially acceptable.

I got to this point of becoming near “perfect” at putting out this image that is socially acceptable. When I did, I became skilled at learning by observing, and then copying that observation without thinking about what I was doing (because my thinking was already involved with, “he is accepted by this group of people, so if I copy him I will be accepted”).

The clothes I wore changed from

  • what my parents made me wear
  • to what stoners wear
  • to what skateboarders wear
  • to what lacrosse guys wear
  • to honestly whatever is attractive to girls.

My activities changed from

  • creating “fake movies” from my imagination
  • to drinking alcohol and smoking weed
  • to playing a sport and building muscle
  • to wanting relationships with people and do whatever is on the normal social agenda.

I was following social groups and the sidetracked obsessions that people tend to get wrapped up in. I missed the core of why I was trying to be “cool” or why I was trying to be accepted in a group of people. At the core of all of us there is an internal need to explore life, learn from our emotions and experiences, and share these things with other people.

I was stuck in a vicious circle of cool where I missed that point. I was chasing the “perfection” of cool enough that I began to realize that when I became accepted in a “group,” whichever one it was, all of us continued to have something missing and filled that void with continuing to pursue acceptance from society. We never learned from our contradictions and about our internal needs that burn inside of us. We had no idea that to create congruency and lasting happiness in our lives we needed to base our value on the inadequacies we needed to fix and master to feed our internal needs–like sharing experiences with others as two separate perspectives of the experience. We never understood that our value was coming from the people that told us we were “cool” and the fact that it became an addiction to chase for that value from others’ acceptance (since we were inadequate at creating our own value).

There is no conclusion to this…just an awareness that needs to be understood until its clear. From enough awareness, I will be able to work out a solution and replace the habit of chasing acceptance with, for example, finding internal inadequacies (inability to have a meaningful conversation) and developing them (asking better questions and listening to every word the other person offers).

This song, Roll Away Your Stone, highlights some of the voids and the internal honesty we need to discover and share with other people in our lives. Mumford & Sons have an honest sound to them. The way they are recorded is raw and how they sound live, the way they sing, Marcus Mumford alone and together as a band, is passionate, and their lyrics are honest internal struggles. I’ve come to love their entire first album and am excited to hear their second one. Here is Roll Away Your Stone by Mumford & Sons:

About Kevin Carlstead

I graduated as a hospitality and psychology student at University of Denver. I spent most of my teenage and young adult years in the hospitality industry. I am still searching for what industry suits my personality and talents so that I can feel more meaning throughout my days. My current career pursuit has me enrolled in a graduate program to become a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I was born and raised in San Diego, CA. I love music with something to it. I love life with something to it. I have made it one of my purposes in this life to integrate both of these things that I love. This blog and my own songwriting has given me the platforms to do that very thing. Thank you for reading.
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