During my freshman year of college, I worked at a popular book store in both the coffee shop part of the store and on the sales floor. This store was located in a suburban area and was frequented by a lot of frenzied mothers and other students like myself. One thing that I noticed in my tenure at this store was that even as adults, women exhibited a tendency to buy things just because they were cool.
On more than one occasion, I would serve a double-tall latte to a woman who obviously despised the flavor of coffee – as demonstrated by the ten packets of sugar she would subsequently pour into her cup. This was back in 1998-1999 when ‘Friends’ and its Central Perk coffee shop were all the rage. As a college student with a pretty busy schedule, I too was guilty of drinking espresso despite the fact that I didn’t like it. I grew to love it, but that’s a whole other story.
There were also several occasions in which women in this store would purchase books simply because they were on Oprah’s book club list. I am all for promoting literacy, so yay Oprah! Although I find it a bit upsetting that people would attempt to read something just because Oprah thinks that it’s cool rather than reading it because they have an interest in the subject matter or the author. Once a book landed on the Oprah list, it would inevitably sell out instantly. As an avid reader, I would normally find this to be a good thing. But I had a lot of trouble believing that women who would routinely walk out of the store with romance novels and gossip rags were interested in reading a story about a man with a schizophrenic twin who cut off his own hand.
In middle school and in high school, it’s completely normal to feign interest in things just because your friends like it. After all, it’s during these formative years that we try on different parts of our personality to figure out what works and what doesn’t. By adulthood, however, we should have a lot of that figured out. It surprises me how many full-grown, capable women still do things because their friends or their significant other thinks it’s cool. I once had a friend in her early 30s who pretended to be into existentialist poetry because a guy that she was into liked it. In reality, this girl was more fond of Perez Hilton than Donald H. Rumsfeld.
I couldn’t understand why she would feign interest in something just to impress a guy. Isn’t the point of dating to find someone who complements your personality and accepts you the way you are? If you aren’t presenting that person with your genuine self, then there isn’t really any reason to keep dating, is there? There is nothing wrong with picking up a new hobby from your significant other. I once dated a guy who was very much into football. I am an avid sports fan, but have never paid much attention to the pigskin, but after watching a few games with him, I started getting into it and found myself truly enjoying the game. The relationship has since fizzled, but I still love Sunday afternoons in the fall.
Liking things to please others isn’t strictly relegated to men, however. Even as adults, we can still pretend to like things just because our friends do. I think that this phenomenon carries over from childhood when you risked being rejected by your peer group for not going along with what they were interested in. As adults, there is no need to behave this way. It’s time to be confident enough to admit that you like what you like and hang out with people who love you anyway. Personally, I am a fashion-obsessed, ‘Walking Dead’ loving, horror movie buff who also likes football, the beach, shopping, sports and a ton of other stuff. (Hmmm – I did not intend for that to sound so online dating profile.) Some of my friends openly mock me for jamming out to One Direction in the car, but you know what? I don’t care. It’s my car, and I will listen to British boy bands if I want to.
Rather than trying to conform your personality to what is new and trendy, make new and trendy work for you. Wouldn’t you rather have genuine friendships with people that you can connect with than friendships based on feigned interests? This isn’t high school anymore. There are lots of people out there to be friends with. Go out and start mingling…as yourself.
Alaina Brandenburger is a Colorado native and a pretty well rounded person. She enjoys people watching, sports, fashion and all things pop culture. A lifelong writer, Alaina likes to share her opinions with others and hopes that they are entertained. She is currently drifting through life observing, musing and enjoying the ride. You can read more of her work here, and follow her on Twitter.