What’s Your Cooler Self Up To?

What if the person you might have been, given a few different choices in school, job, partner or lifestyle, is out there right now, living your once-potential life?

What if s/he is WAY COOLER than you are?

That’s the question posed by Eric Puchner in this thought-provoking article from, of all places, GQ. (What’s even weirder is that the friend who sent me this article is the kind of guy who doesn’t even know what GQ stands for.)


After polling all his friends to see what line of work they think his cooler self might be in, the author ends up tracking down a musician named Kyle Field. They meet. Eric is rather hoping Kyle will be something of a jerk, a loser, a washout.

He’s not. He is–darn it all–really cool. Here he is, singing a duet with Feist, which is what drew Eric to him. (Eric’s a daddy, and his little daughter adores Feist’s “1234” song on Sesame Street.)

Even as this song got stuck in my head, the article got me thinking. What might my doppelganger be up to, if I had one? And…am I okay thinking about this?

I didn’t use to be. I can distinctly remember times in years past when I slammed that door in my imagination, the one that showed me a more fulfilling career, a more admirable lifestyle, photo albums filled with more thrilling adventures than I was destined for.

Wow–she MUST be cool.Wow--she MUST be cool.

After all, if my doppelganger’s so cool–what am I? If she’s off working in Haiti with Partners in Health and all I’m doing is teaching public school in the U.S., well, doesn’t that make me kind of…safe? Conventional? Boring?

Paul Farmer, founder of Partners in Health

Paul Farmer, founder of Partners in Health

What if I start second-guessing the choices that brought me to this life? What if I start questioning if what I do is really as much as I could be doing? Sounds like a whole lot of self-doubt rattling around behind that door. So–nope. Not gonna open that one.

So I was delighted, after finishing this article and discussing it with my friend, to find myself  flinging that door wide open without even thinking about it. Because, that woman working in Haiti? That’s who I saw, right off. And she didn’t threaten my sense of self one little bit. I was happy for her, working her hard job without the comforts of family, but she was happy for me right back, including my choice to walk away from my 20-year teaching career to write and bake. My cool, admirable, brave doppelganger smiled at me.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a clearer signal that I’ve arrived at a good, healthy stage in my life. Who knew GQ could have reassured me so?

What about you? Ever think about who your cooler self might be and what s/he might be up to? Or do you not like to think about it? Why or why not? Let us hear!

6 thoughts on “What’s Your Cooler Self Up To?

  1. What a great question to ask yourself Gretchen. That said, you could come up with a plethora of different answers that might trample over the actual road you’ve taken. I think at some point in our life, we all are forced to take a look at ourselves. One can only hope that we like who we see. Then there comes a time when we reach a certain age in which we feel more secure in who we are. Especially if we’ve done the work to make those improvements that we know will make us into a better person. Would I like to have lived another life? Nah. 🙂

  2. That is a good feeling, isn’t it? I expect when it isn’t a good feeling, that’s when we prevent ourselves from thinking about it–true for me, anyway. Thanks for stopping by, Karen!

  3. I love the questions this post provokes in us. Very cool to think about it and wonder what if . . .
    How neat that you met your doppleganger! I think we kind of meet bits of our dopplegangers or our cooler selves (or our darker selves) in many of the stories we write! Fun post, Gretchen.

  4. Great post, Gretchen. I have contemplated this (even have a blog posting coming soon) and sure, there are things in my past I would do differently if given a chance, but only if I could end up where I am now. However cool my doppleganger is, she couldn’t possibly be more content with her life than I am.

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