Hipster according to Apple’s oh-so-accurate Dictionary’s definition, is “a person who follows the latest trends and fashions.”
It’s funny how we brand ourselves, hipsters, punks, foodies and yuppies (and actually even more comical that I just found that definition in an actual dictionary). At least when you’re young the classification comes easy: nerds and jocks, cheerleaders and class clowns. Once you encounter the real world, you realize that those labels that seemed to eternally personify “Steve the basketball all star” were nothing more than snapshots of the lives of your peers during one or two years of time, perhaps never to be repeated. In some cases the categories remain; of course there are those girls I knew growing up who will always be overachievers and finish first. What sparks my interest lately is the variance of courses our young lives chase, and the irony in our societal categorizations from such an early age, at least where I grew up.
It’s strange thinking back to the first day entering an all-girls high school in the city of Chicago. As you walk down the hall in your shiny black shoes with no more than a half-inch heel, with soles so new they yelp in agony with every step, you gaze around at a sea of faces so unfamiliar and intimidating, wondering who might be a future friend, trying to envision yourself joining in the crowds of girls throwing their heads back in laughter and braiding each other’s hair. In a flash those years are gone, and you’re on the other side of the fence, trying your hardest not to gawk at the awkward freshmen squeaking in their new shoes and trying to go unnoticed. Your life whirls on, and through college your confidence in growing older is clouded by confusion in identity, and your values are challenged by friends, relationships, and the pressures of surviving on your own.
Once the four-year-long beautiful disaster that is American university is over (for those of us who are lucky enough to get out in four), though life should be coming full circle and the road ahead should be bright and welcoming, we are shoved off a steep cliff and slowly we swallow a baby spoonful of responsibility. Some, like children, spit it back out in utter disgust, crossing their arms and refusing to budge, well, at least for now. Some take a double dosage in stride and plummet through to the top of their industry immediately. Most wonder what will come of the next couple years, and begin wandering around in what I have dubbed a “hipster haze.” That isn’t to insist that we all want to be hipsters; on the contrary I am just intrigued by the buzz around this term.
Now since the definition is basically a cool chick or dude, it’s interesting to look across other social groups at their opinions of these so-called “hipsters.” We’ve all commented on this group at some point in time, and we all have our own opinions – hipsters are awesome, hipsters are posers, hipsters are wankers. Sure, I get what a hipster in the traditional sense is. But I am always amazed at how passionately we label ourselves even as grown, mature adults. Like our views on life, our labels simply get more sophisticated and complicated with time – instead of classifying based on clothes, we pick and choose who we are based on the caliber of food and wine preferences, our travelling experiences, musical inclinations, the places we frequent and our personal presentation.
So which category do you, or I, fall in now? I think my lesson over the past couple of years has led me to embrace the theory that ignorance is true bliss. I have been striving to throw aside all thoughts of social categories and see people for who they are. Although children will unfortunately never forego their awkward years of straggling around from group to group in a search to find themselves, I believe adults can widen their perspectives and rid ourselves of our labels. We can stop walking through our twenties in a “hipster haze,” pointing fingers at each other for our looks and preferences and realize that anything can go. That mentality opens your mind to new cultures, new “social groups” and new ways of doing things. At times I wonder if I rewound my life by six years and stepped out of this “hipster haze” who I would have met, and sometimes that thought is followed by regret.
Not sure what inspired or sparked this post, but sometimes the thoughts that just spur out of my mind are also those which help me find meaning, and that add to who I am. So please don’t judge my brain dump as I have quite rambled on this electronic journal of mine.