Unifying the geek and the gentleman
Obsession With Opposites
If high school has taught us anything, its the dogma that there are the "cool kids" and the "uncool kids". The cool kids play sports, have the latest fashions, drive nice cars, are popular, and look "idolistic". While the uncool kids are in band, part of some school club (e.g., chess), dress weird, are socially akward and are obnoxiously smart. For years these two archetypes have emblazoned the fabric of our social consciousness. From our own testimonies encountering these opposing pubescent forces to Hollywood's immortalization of these polarities in classic teen films such as The Breakfast Club, we've come to accept the paradigm as status quo. Despite changing trends in the criteria that defines cool and uncool, the two worlds always seem to coexist. C'est la vie, as they say. Right?
Since time immemorial, humans have had an obsession with opposites. Good versus evil. Rich versus poor. Republican versus Democrat. Man versus woman. Black versus white. Identifying the stark contrast of extremes has defined, shaped, and molded nearly every civilization since the beginning of recorded history. By identifying these extremes, we establish boundaries for society. In nearly every instance of establishing outer bounds, you realize that those bounds tend to represent a very small minority of the total population of possibilities. And, in fact, the vast majority of possibilities exist as a distribution between the bounds and represent a combination of the two extremes converged. Think of the standard deviation ("bell curve") in a typical class. You have the top performers to the right and the low performers to the left. These two diametric groups form the bounds for distribution. Yet, upon closer inspection, the sum of both top and low performers is relatively small compared to the group of moderate performers (i.e., D, C and B students). These students, like the collection of possibilities between all extremes, represents the gray (learn about Being Comfortable with the Gray).
So, with that backdrop, let's get back to the "cool" and "uncool".
For some reason, our fascination with extremes seems to undermine the significance of the majority who exist within the margins. There are a few cool kids and a few uncool kids. But what about the kids in between? They're normal. And society daily demonstrates that normal is uninteresting, boring, and typical. Think of the color gray. When was the last time you got excited about an all-gray outfit? So it is with the gray of society. We don't get excited about normal. But we do get excited about abnormal.
When looking at dichotomies, it's convenient to think of them as endpoints on a sliding scale. The more you move to the right, the more the characteristics of the right endpoint, and the less of the characteristics of the leftmost endpoint. are inherited. But what happens when you take the endpoints of the scale and bent them such that they touch, effectively making a circle? This new intersection is very nonlinear and abnormal, and that makes it interesting. It is in this convergence we find the man who is both a "geek" and a "gentleman".
Take James Bond. Is there a better representation of interesting... on earth?! The guy's a spy, drives an amazing car, wears tuxedos everywhere, is dashing, athletic, a prize-fighter, and is the object of desire for every woman he meets. Yet he's intelligent, great a chess, not arrogant or flamboyant, understands "cyberspeak", and keeps gadgets on him at all times that beep, blink, and shoot. 007 represents the convergence of both gentleman and geek. And we love it! He shows us that its OK to be both, particularly if you are highly proficient in both. But there is an essential requirement to pulling this off... you have to have "chill".
You Gots to Chill
In other words, if you're going to bend the sliding scale into a circle, the extremes should have an organic alignment. Further, your underlying "you" should be present at all times, meaning you must be able to adapt your "you" to the geeky or gentlemanly (and everything in between for that matter) circumstances organically and authentically. It's like dressing for the weather. Whether you wear shorts, boots, or a raincoat, you are still you. Your value system shouldn't change just because you have on gloves. So your "chill" is you adapting both the gentleman and geek in you to the active social situation while allowing the authenticity of your character and core values to remain constant (learn How To Become A G). This cool-geeky-tough-distinguished-intellectual, or Unconventional Gentleman, as we like to call him, can hold a conversation about either business and brandy, or pixels and platforms. And make the transition between the two worlds feel smooth and organic. To do this, you'll need to have confidence in discussing the topics, and a certain gravitas such that when talking about a topic as abstract as the Higgs Boson, you do so in a way that sounds enriching, enlightening, and authoritative.
The "chill" rule applies to fashion as well. The Unconventional Gentleman can wear a single-breasted suit with a smartwatch and it look awesome. However, the timepiece should be fashionable, not a calculator watch. This is the "chill factor", which allows you to test the limits by merging styles, that would otherwise seem to contrast, in a manner that fits organically. Same goes for eyeglasses. They should be fashionable, proportional and, most importantly, complementary to the face. From a social perspective, the functionality and practicality of glasses are nonexistent. If you wear them, they have to look good. Even smartphones have a play here. Android or iPhone is irrelevant. What matters are details like the phone's wallpaper, ringtone, and case. If you are polished, with an exemplary outfit, manicured grooming, and full-length tattoo sleeve, and your phone rings with the theme song to Big Bang Theory while in a Battlestar Galactica phone case, you may be sending mixed signals.
Navigating life becomes much easier when we accept that there is beauty between the extremes, and harmony in their unification. This acknowledgment opens the door to a multitude of possibilities that represent a mashup of the outer bounds. Its this mashup - the middle space, the boring, the gray - that allows for the 007s of the world to exist, exemplified by their maximization and endorsement of the geek and gentleman within, and how doing so allows them to work outside the margins. Proof that it is better to embrace the bounds than to be constrained by them.
From the author: While writing this, I learned of the passing of basketball great, Kobe Bryant. I'd like to tribute this writing to Mr. Bryant and his legacy. My deepest and sincerest condolences to his family and friends.
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