Auntie SparkNotes: I'm Boring and Conventional
I recently realized that I am boring. My favorite food is pizza, my favorite ice cream is vanilla, my favorite color is pink, my favorite band is Coldplay, and my ideal vacation is a tropical beach. I also don't have anything going for me — I'm not a big nerd or geek, nor very athletic, musically talented, really funny, or anything at all. I'm just boring.
I feel like for the past seventeen years of my life I just wanted to be normal and fit in, and now I've turned out to be boring. I'm beginning to wonder why my friends, who are all very talented, even hang out with me, and I'm just all-around frightened. See, I'm kind of quiet now in high school but I'd like that to change some in college, but I'm scared if I do speak more people will realize I'm not at all interesting and stop hanging out with me. I don't know what to do, and I just feel like a loser. Please help, if you can.
Okay, let me make sure I'm getting this: like millions—even billions—of people, you like popular and accessible things... which are popular and accessible precisely because millions—even billions — of people feel the same way about them that you do. And yet, when you examine this state of affairs, you conclude that you like these things not because they are good, but because you are a boring loser.
...You haven’t by any chance been brainwashed by hipsters, have you?
Because I feel I must say this: vanilla ice cream and tropical beaches aren’t lame or dull just because everyone likes them. Because if they were lame and dull, then, duh, nobody would like them. And while there’s always something to be said for expanding your horizons and pushing beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone, there’s also something to be said for not measuring your integrity as a person of taste by how much you hate pizza and sunshine.
Which is why your problem isn't really one of conventional taste, but of self-awareness. You said it best: you spent so many years worrying about fitting in, you kinda forgot to explore the possibility of standing out... and, in doing that, missed out on getting to know yourself, your strengths, what makes you tick.
But that’s okay, because it’s never too late to start!
Which brings us to the fun part, where you try new things, eat new foods, listen to new music, and explore any and all untested paths of possible interest as defined by the inner whisperings of the essential You. Think back on the past few years: what piqued your interest? What subjects did you excel in, what stories did you engage with? What did you witness or hear or read about that made you think, “Man, I’d love to experience that”—but that you left untried out of fear, or shyness, or adherence to convention? Figure out what these things are. Do them. See what you like, what you’re good at, what makes you crave more. And repeat as needed, and for the rest of your life, because self-discovery is a journey that has many milestones but no set endpoint.
That said, does this mean you’re going to morph from Miss Conventionality to an iconoclast freakshow with a penchant for didgeridoo sonatas and anthracite pancakes? Nope! In fact, you may try new things discover that hey, you just really do love Coldplay beaches pink vanilla pizza, period. But that won’t be because you’re living life on its default settings; it’ll be because those things speak to you in a way that other things don’t. And the fact that they speak to many other people too won’t matter a smidge.
And if that happens, and if a certain subset of people think that your popular tastes make you boring and lame and un-friend-able? Then you don’t want those people as friends in the first place.
Which brings me to this: having a personality, any personality, will always result in a certain proportion of the population not liking you... and that is totally okay. Hell, it’s desirable. Because one person’s boring and unlikeable is another’s fascinating and attractive. Because nobody has the time or energy to be friends with the whole wide world, anyway. And because the more that the superficial snap-judging crowd see your personality and exclude themselves from your company, the less time you spend in the company of jerks.
Are you boring and conventional? Mostly mainstream with a side of quirk? A didgeridoo-playing pancake chef? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Related post: Auntie SparkNotes: Little Town Blues