I wasn’t cool in high school

Published 10:00 pm Monday, August 11, 2014

We seniors tend to reminisce, maybe thinking back to our high school days, when what mattered was being known as a “cool cat.” I recently reflected on my high school years, and while I was accepted and pretty well-liked, I don’t recall ever being referred to as “cool.” It turns out that may have been a good thing.
A recent article in the journal of Child Development, reported a study done at the University of Virginia that found, “Teens who tried to act cool in early adolescence were more likely than their peers who didn’t act cool to experience a range of problems in early adulthood.”
When I was a teen, in the 1950’s, acting “cool” was, well, “cool.” And “cool” is still often idolized in teen magazines, on TV and in movies. Remember 1955 and James Dean in “Rebel Without a Cause?” Because he was cool, I started carrying a pack of Camel cigarettes in my rolled up T-shirt sleeve with my too scrawny arms, also trying to look “cool” and knowing that if my parents caught me they’d either kill me or ground me until I was 18.
Teenage girls of my generation had their “cool” role models, like Annette Funicello, playing opposite Frankie Avalon in the 1963 movie Beach Party. Today’s teens may think that it’s “cool” to look and act like Miley Cyrus, or for guys, Justin Bieber, but this current research study indicates that trying to act older than your actual age as a teen may actually have some interesting and unexpected consequences later in life.
The researchers followed 184-teens of different races and diverse ethnical backgrounds from different areas around the country for 10-years, from age 13 to 23, collecting information from the teens from their peers, parents and directly from the teens themselves. They found that “Teens who were romantically involved at an early age, engaged in delinquent activity, and placed a premium on hanging out with physically attractive peers were thought to be popular by their peers at age 13. But over time, this sentiment faded: By 22, those once-cool teens were rated by their peers as being less competent in managing social relationships. They were also more likely to have had significant problems with alcohol and drugs, and to have engaged in criminal activities, according to the study.
“These previously cool teens appeared less competent – socially and otherwise – than their less cool peers by the time they reached young adulthood.”
So what I realized after reading this study, is that while being a bit nerdy or geeky as a teen, then and now may seem to the teenager going through it to be an eternal hell with no chance of “coolness,” perhaps as parents and grandparents we might suggest they just give it another 10-years, and “…just be yourself,” because there’s a very good chance that how you may turn out will be…well, very “cool.

Ron Kauffman is a Consultant & Expert on Issues of Aging, Medicare & Obamacare. His consulting practice serves clients in Henderson, Polk & Brevard Counties. He is the author of Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer Disease, available as a Kindle book on Amazon.com. His podcasts can be heard weekly at www.seniorliflestyles.ne. Contact him at (828) 696-9799 or by email at: drron561@gmail,com.

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