I was called hip last year by someone because I owned Nirvana’s “Unplugged” album and I knew bands hardly anybody had heard of. It scared me that while I enjoyed having my life revolve around music, I was now a hipster – a word that conjures up images of music snobs drinking from mason jars in their intentionally mismatched clothes.
I began a confusing battle with myself about the definition of “hip” and “hipster.” If you want to be hip, then you’re not a hipster. I didn’t want to be hip, so doesn’t that non-conformist attitude make me hip because I don’t care?
But if someone fits the stereotype of being a hipster, isn’t there some want for it? Are we born with these identities mapped out for us, or is it a choice? Did my environment help me choose the hipster road, or was I born with a Pixies song in my head?
And if we chose in one way or another what general identity we may fall under, doesn’t that inadvertently disqualify us from being a part of that identity?
I’m not quite sure where things went sour.
Liking artists ranging from Buddy Holly to The Police didn’t make me hip in elementary school. Being a Led Zeppelin fan didn’t make the middle school popularity contest any easier.
I haven’t changed that much, just discovered new things and added them to the pile. So I’m confused how a life-long nerd can somehow morph into a hipster.
It could all depend on who I’m asking. The label of hipster can really only be attained when someone else gives it. So all because of a couple of CDs, I’m suddenly boxed together with people who I think are much more hip than me. I went to a house party where there was a plaster bust of the host’s torso in the living room, wine in a water cooler and a makeshift rock-climbing wall in the basement – all of which I found much more hip than my interest in Civil War history or my ability to quote “The Simpsons” in any situation.
Maybe I’m only hip in a few peoples’ eyes and my usual nerdy self in others’. That, then, raises another question: How the hell do I begin to identify myself if I’m so worried about how I’m seen by certain people?
I could go all motivational-speaker here and say it doesn’t matter what others think, blah blah blah. But, when it absolutely gets down to it, there are few people who truly don’t care. Even the most confident person has to wonder, every now and then, what the hell everyone thinks about him or her.
For those of us still doing our soul searching, it would be nice if the answer was easy – if our identity fell into some general category: jock, hipster, nerd.
But the lesson, children, is there are no easy answers. I haven’t found one. At best, I’ve confused you.
Maybe it’s time I dedicated my life to confusing people enough to leave me alone and stop calling me names.