The Cool Kids Club: Real, Myth, or Mindset? Asking For a Friend.

And Haven’t We Felt This Same Way

Is there really a Cool Kids Club that follows us throughout life? Do we really have to live high school all over again as adults? Can we be in that elusive Cool Club some years, months, days and not others? Should we care? Generally speaking, that club does frequently appear in schools, businesses, churches, clubs, and it rears its ugly head on social media as well. What exactly is it? How do we guide kids through the social maze in order to survive? Should we spend any time helping students through this? And actually, students may have a better handle on this than we adults do. Social media and the internet have opened doors to fashion and culture, good and bad, for us that students may navigate better than many adults. In fact, if you ask your own children about the Cool Kids Club, as Denis Sheeran did, you may discover that they have never heard of it. That then begs the question, do we adults really understand it ourselves?

Sure In Our Hearts, But Afraid Just The Same

Yes, I asked a lot of questions in my opening paragraph. This issue isn’t about schools really. It’s about people. It’s about a mindset. Okay, I gave away the answer a little early, and I didn’t let you figure it out on your own. My bad.

As kids, we start young, seeing a few kids playing and wishing we were over there playing with them. The thing is, some of us know that in most cases, all you have to do is walk over to them and join in. No waiting to be asked. No thought to acceptance. Just the desire to play and do what they’re doing. It’s simple, until we complicate it. We humans have a lot of insecurities, anxieties, or hangups that can prevent us from walking over and joining in the fun.

There’s only six of us in the office; 3 men, 3 ladies, and two sets are married. The other two are cousins. We’re all one clique. Our crews are all in the field, spread out in small groups all over the country. Pretty laid back, but we’re all good at our tasks, and we’re a lean, efficient group for sure.-Lisa Lemons, Project Administrator, Wireless Horizon, Inc., St. Louis area

There is also the family dynamic to consider. Any time a group has family members in it, that section of the group will always be or seem closer to each other than to the rest of the group. Childhood friendships or length of friendship can work the same way. Does that have to be a problem? No. Again, it’s the mindset.

To Say I Can’t Stay One Minute More

At school, we place a very high value on students collaboration, because we see it as a necessary skill to survive in the world. How will our students be hired if they cannot collaborate with others? On any given day, we can observe adults who still haven’t figured out how to work together with their peers and others who are highly successful. There are a lot of emotions that can be tightly coiled within this topic. Why? Let’s go back to it being a mindset idea.  I talked with various people about the Cool Kids Club when preparing to write this post, getting a variety of perspectives that all came back to the Cool Kids Club being in our heads, a mindset. This, ladies and gentlemen, we need to shift within ourselves and help guide our students through the shift as well.

Oh my goodness. I don’t think it’s a kid thing. I think it’s a people thing. We put ourselves in hierarchies — or we convince ourselves someone else has. They are all over Twitter too, and they’re definitely in schools — teachers and students.–Matt Miller, author of Ditch That Textbook and co-author of Ditch That Homework

You Might Think That It’s Hopeless

Sometimes we try too hard when we are out of our comfort zones. Go back to the little kids on the playground playing. If you aren’t present when the fun, the play starts up, then you may feel left out and on the sidelines. To join in requires putting ourselves out there, and that is easier for some than others, but a necessity nonetheless. Imagine a new kid arriving and watching, wishing he could join in the fun. Lurking. Personal insecurities or lack of knowledge of how to proceed could be the cause of his reluctance. The kids who are playing aren’t always aware of the lurkers because they are involved in the play, the fun. Often there is no malice or thought given towards the lurkers. The fun has a tendency to dominate the moment. The problem begins when we attribute the malice or uncaring onto those kids playing and having fun. Admittedly, sometimes there is malice or uncaring, but we also are guilty of projecting it onto those Cool Kids more frequently than warranted.

The “cool kids club” does exist both metaphorically and literally throughout our lives. What’s interesting is our individual viewpoint of the club and of what’s “cool.” When we’re young, the things that other kids have are cool, so we want them to be cool like those kids in the club. As we grow to teenagers and young adults it’s not the things that are cool, but the type of personality or style a person has that’s cool, so we often change to become a part of that cool kids club. It’s not til we’re adults that we realize that what we love most, what we’re passionate about most, what drives us to excel the most, is the thing that will bring us to a place where all the real people in our “cool kids club” exist. Metaphorically, the club is the search for deeper identity. Literally, the club is those who share your real identity and thrive together. You’ve been searching for the “cool kids club” for a long time, not knowing that it’s been searching for you, too.–Denis Sheeran, Author of Instant Relevance and soon to be released Hacking Mathematics: Ten Problems That Need Solving

Beyond Our Control; But That’s Not Necessarily So

So if you are lurking, as a student or an adult, seeing individuals having fun or doing things you wish you were involved in, join them. Doing reconnaissance is fine, but don’t forget the objective is to join them. Sometimes asking to be included, in some groups or situations, is the wrong tactic (on the playground especially). Kids on the playground tend to know this instinctively. They see a need in the game and they just fill it. Asking permission sometimes works against us because it implies the hierarchy Matt referred to, and then you give the group an opportunity to say no. That can happen sometimes anyway, but you won’t know that until you try. See a need the group has and fill it. Don’t spend too much time watching the game film that you forget to get in the game.

The cool kids club will always exist because like attracts like. There will always be nexus groups that gravitate towards each other and then perceived as cool because of their likeness. It is a social phenomenon. But when adults are actively reflective they can intentionally be inclusive and break social barriers!-Rebecca Coda, co-author of Escaping the School Leader’s Dunk Tank: How to Prevail When Others Want to See You Drown

Can’t You See There’s a Chance

Now’s the time to re-examine your viewpoint of the Cool Kids Club. As Denis so eloquently stated, that Club really exists to surround ourselves with individuals who are passionate about, love, and desire to excel in the same things we are passionate about, want to excel in, and love. Once you find the group of people who fill that need for you, the Cool Kids Club is your club. Cool is a very subjective adjective (I can say that…English Teacher).  You decide what it means.  Develop the mindset that whichever Club you are in is the Cool Kids Club. Embrace your passions. Stop worrying about what that group over there is doing or saying. They have their own passions and areas they want to excel in, and it is okay that they aren’t the same as your Club’s. It is okay that there are differences.

Of course I’m in the Cool Kids Club. It has all the Cool Kids in the school in it, which really is everybody but maybe one weird kid. Weird kids aren’t in the Club. Wait, that’s not true. Weird kids are cool too. It’s kind of hard to define.–Ryan Steinbrink, 6th grade

For The Daring Young Soul

It’s different for adults, some might say. But is it? Remember, this is a people problem. It is a mindset dilemma. Adults can definitely have more anxiety, insecurities, and awareness of being introverts, extroverts, and all things in between. After all, we’ve had our whole lives to experience social settings, awkwardness, and to accrue positive and negative experiences. However, it still comes down to a mindset shift for many of us.

I think it is natural to constantly compare ourselves to others. As leaders, though, our jobs are really to break down barriers that would ever keep staff (students and parents) from feeling like they don’t belong.  Sometimes people can put others into groups unfairly as an excuse…kind of the “it’s easy for you, you’re creative” example from  (Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess) if that makes sense. –Beth Houf, co-author of Lead Like A Pirate

And I Believe If We Learn From The Past

Whether or not you consider yourself a leader, and whether or not you believe you are in the Cool Kids Club, we can all do as Beth suggests. We can look outside our group at play and see if there are lurkers who want to join in on the fun but aren’t sure how. We can validate their passions and drive, create opportunities for them to help the Club work efficiently as Lisa’s group does. It isn’t US vs. Them. It Us finding our voice, passions, drive, and meaning, as Denis so beautifully expressed, because we joined Them. Kudos to all who have found their own tribe or Club. It is a great feeling, but for those who haven’t yet discovered this, we can be aware of that and invite them to join us until they either realize they belong in our Club (whatever that is) or they do find their own Club. It is something everyone has to discover and decide for themselves.

Does the “cool club” exist in adulthood? Yes. I believe so. I think we would be lying to ourselves to say we didn’t at one point in time compare ourselves to another. It is part of being a REAL human. It is also a blessing and a curse. If we strive to better ourselves, we often seek to discover our mistakes and tweak them, but do we not look at the patterns of others who have succeeded or might be in the “adult-world cool club”? Most likely that has happened a time or two for some of us. What is cool? The definition varies from person to person; it’s so subjective. No matter the description, continually comparing ourselves to others is paralyzing. It is a set up for disaster. However, in the end, I believe people need to be REAL–true to our own identity. We might look at the patterns of others that seem “cool” or successful, but we must allow our own creativity to shine. We must tap into the unique combinations of our talents and strengths, cool or not cool, and embrace them! OWN them. Then, it is imperative that we foster this principle in those you serve. Be original. Be R.E.A.L. Be YOU!–Tara M. Martin, Future author of R.E.A.L. the Heartbeat of Education, release date-Summer 2018

We’d Find Keys to Unlock Every Door

So whether you are comfortably in a group of people who have the same views, interests, and goals as you do or whether you feel isolated and left out, start tomorrow with the mindset shift that whatever you are doing or learning, it is cool. You be you. As Tara says, be REAL. If you are into it, then it is COOL. Find that Club that fits your needs, and then help it grow. Look for the lurkers. Coax them into your Club (I’d say with food, but they may have been taught to not take food from strangers). Encourage the passions, interests, and drive of those that are in your Club and those who are not. We’re all on the same team, after all.

Headings are partial song lyrics from Haven’t We Been Here Before by Styx.

3 thoughts on “The Cool Kids Club: Real, Myth, or Mindset? Asking For a Friend.

  1. Laura, I love that you even added your own child’s voice to this post! I just finished reading REAL FRIENDS by Shannon Hale (quick graphic novel), and it’s all about the cool club. I remember some of those awkward growing up years, and I’m sure we have one or more cool clubs at my own school – but they’re good at mingling! ;D

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Joy! My son always has a unique view, so I just had to ask, and then I just had to use! At my school, their probably is a cool kids club, but they don’t all hang out together. They have their own groups, which is as it should be. Funny that adults have bigger problems with this than most kids.


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