Cool Then, Cool Now

Growing up, I tried a lot of activities. Two that I want to specifically focus on are Jr. ROTC and Boy Scouts. Why?Because I quit both of them.

Why did I quit? Because I didn’t think they were “cool.” Yep. I quit Jr. ROTC because I did not want to wear the uniforms to school. I thought they were stupid and that it would hurt my chances of being “cool.” Same with Boy Scouts. In fact, I didn’t just quit. I made fun of people who were a part of these programs. I thought they were losers.

What did I do instead? I did what was “cool”… drugs, drinking, partying . . . living the dream. To be honest, while I was in high school, I was living the dream. I had a blast and did whatever I wanted to. As a teenager, I thought I had the coolest life ever! Until I graduated and real life started to happen…

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I graduated with a 1.6 GPA, was drinking and doing drugs all the time, and had no ambition to do anything with my life. Most of my friends moved on to 4-year colleges. That was not an option for me. In fact, because of the life I chose to live in high school, I had very few options.

If you know my story, you know that it was at that point in my life that God intervened and I turned my life around. Had God not intervened, I would probably still be doing the same thing . . . following what is “cool” according to culture.

Now when I see people who are still following what is “cool” according to our culture, my heart breaks. They have no idea how amazing their lives could be if they would stop living their lives trying to “be cool” and started being intentional with their lives.

Want to know what I think is cool now? Living for God. Making a difference. Living with character and integrity. Having a vision for your life. Being responsible, serving, getting the opportunity have meaningful work, and getting to experience the world.

Looking back, I wish I would have stuck with Jr. ROTC or Boy Scouts.  These programs are designed to teach leadership, character development, discipline, service, and more. They also enable you to have some pretty cool experiences.

The coolest people live their lives on purpose and do not care what anyone else thinks of them.

I doubt any of the kids I made fun of that were in those programs cared about anything I said. In fact, they were probably making fun of me for being a “loser” who did drugs, partied, etc. I’m certain that at this point in their lives they aren’t looking back thinking, “Man! I really wish Doug Smith thought I was cooler when I was in Jr. ROTC in high school… I should have never joined that stupid program.” Instead, I’m looking back and wishing I had been more like them!

I wish I had spent less time trying to be cool and spent more time learning how to live on purpose. I can’t go back and change the past, but I can decide to live on purpose today. That’s cool. 

Question: Are you still spending your life trying to be cool according to culture or are you learning to live on purpose? How you answer that question will make all the difference in the world when it comes to the quality of your life and happiness.

Live on purpose. It’s the cool thing to do. 


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One Response

  1. I definitely agree with you. But even now, as I live my life for God and have a family, I’m constantly chasing ambition. It’s a different type of “cool” I chase. I think, inside me, much like other people, I seek selfish fame through my writing and photography, rather than humbly reminding myself that those are services intended for others. Writing is a service to the reader. Photography is a service to the model and client. “Husbands serve your wife,” comes to mind. Thanks for the post.

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