Stop all this talk about finding your passion / doing what you love / doing work that gives your life meaning. If we really get down to it, we just want to hang with the cool kids.
When we were children in the playground, we looked around at the yard, figured out who’s having the most fun, and jumped in. During my time, it was basketball, dodgeball, hopscotch, kickball, pogs, digimon, and, of course, tag. It was that simple. I wanted to hang with the kid with the Lunchables. I wanted to play tag with the kid getting chased by all the girls. I wanted to be with the cool kids.
These days, the cool kids seem to be the models, the professional athletes, designers, photographers, and – who would’ve thought – even techies are cool now. So now we have all these people that are unhappy because all of the sudden, there isn’t enough space on the playground. The “cool” section has reached full capacity and, unfortunately, you were not picked. Sorry, you have to work as an accountant, a secretary, a receptionist, a waiter, or a retailer at some dead-end company. [Cool points extremely lacking.]
The reality is there isn’t enough space for all of us to hang out with the cool kids. That's why there’s all this anxiety about work-life balance, why there is an over-consumption of self-help books, and the reason why the term “FOMO” even exists. Forget passion, forget meaning, you’re just upset because you can’t hang with the cool kids.
The funny thing is the cool kids aren’t defined by the activity, it’s defined by the people. I’m sure you’ve met actors, models, photographers, and designers who really weren't that cool. So who’s to say you can’t be the coolest accountant, or the coolest waiter, or the coolest receptionist? Are you really responding to the fact that models, photographers, professional athletes, and artists are cool? Or are you reacting to the facade that the media presents to us? Speaking from personal experience – photoshoots really aren’t that exciting, movie sets aren’t any different, and I’ve met some models who really just didn’t give a fudge. How about that? You work all your life searching for the golden ticket only to find out that the chocolate factory doesn’t have any chocolate in it.
Lucky for us, unlike the playground, we’re not the only kid who wasn’t chosen to be on the team. A bunch of us have been “left out” so to speak; who’s to say we can’t band together and start our own club of “Cool Kids”? At the end of the day, it’s not even about being cool. It is, however, about being comfortable with who you are wherever you are. That’s an entirely different type of cool in itself.
We just want to hang with the cool kids. But who’s to say you’re not already a cool kid?
by Jason Lam