On Liking Things – Pt. 1: Like What You Like

Recently there have been certain things that I’ve been getting into that seem totally cool when I’m by myself, but when I’m around other people, I feel a little embarrassed about it and even feel like maybe I should hide the fact that I like these things. This, of course, is not the first time in my life that I have had this sort of feeling about something and I can pretty much guarantee that anyone who is reading this has also felt this way at some point. It’s like that time when I find a band that I really like and I listen to them over and over and over again while I’m by myself, going about my daily life, but then when I have a friend in my car – listening to the same music that I’ve been practically addicted to for the past few weeks – I hear it differently. I start to listen to the music with their ears. I hear it as I think they will hear it and I notice all the little things about the songs that I assume they will not like. And I don’t know whether to apologize for having such uncool tastes or start laying out my reasons for thinking the band is great. Sometimes it doesn’t even come to that decision because I avoid playing the band altogether and choose a band that I’m pretty sure my friend will think is super cool. Something that will make me seem hip and impressive. And I’m like this with lots of things: movies, books, clothes, makeup, shows, and so on and so forth.

There is always a self-consiousness when I show someone something that I like. Sometimes when I like something that I know most of my peers think is lame, I feel this strange urge to confess to them that I like this thing just to get rid of the dread that they will find out on their own in some unexpected way. That’s my get-it-out-there-as-soon-as-possible-so-we-can-all-just-get-over-it approach. Then there’s the make-sure-everyone-knows-how-much-I-know-that-this-thing-is-lame-but-I’m-going-to-like-it-anyway approach, which is dangerously close to the, currently popular, I-like-this-thing-ironically-I’m-so-cool approach. Like, what is that? Why can’t we just call it what it is? It’s a guilty pleasure. But why are we even feeling guilty about it? What’s with this pressure to only like things that are considered cool by the people around us? It’s especially absurd because a lot of the time, everyone around you has their own set of guilty pleasures and some of them might even be the SAME ones that you are trying to hide from them! It should be okay for us to like what we like and not have to pretend otherwise. Right? And why is “cool” even the goal? Maybe we should be thinking about our likes and dislikes a bit more complexly than that. Can’t I think something is kind of dumb but also kind of see the merits in it and like it just the same? And can’t I dislike something while also appreciating it and understanding why other people like it? I’m learning to respect the preferences of others even when they are so different from my own and it’s actually helping me to respect and relate to other people.

Anyway, I know it’s difficult to just stop feeling a little embarrassed when I like something that my peers think is super lame, and I probably won’t be changing in this respect any time soon. But I am going to make an effort to just like what I like without trying to pretend like I don’t or being super sheepish about it and I think you should too 🙂