I am twenty-four years old. I’d like to consider myself part of the “indie” community, however, all of my clothes are from Forever21 and I very rarely find “statement pieces” when I go thrifting (I’m really bad at thrifting, for that matter. I feel claustrophobic and I never find anything in my size, but that’s a different story for a different day). Though I’d like to say image doesn’t mean that much to me, I would be lying if I said I’d be fine with someone confusing me for the type of girl who watches the Kardashians religiously and really likes baking cupcakes.
So why am I wasting my weekends watching Justin Timberlake videos?
When I was in the second grade, my best friend, Layne, and I went to the mall and bought matching baby-blue tear-away pants, a la Justin in “Tearin’ Up My Heart.” At 10, I had a Justin Timberlake marionette, to which I would sing “This I Promise You” in the comfort of my bedroom. Hell, I have listened to NSYNC’s first two albums (three if we’re counting their Christmas hits) so many times that I can still recite every lyric. Okay, maybe I was a fan girl.
But then junior high rolled around and I discovered eyeliner, dive bar shows, and pop-punk. Suffice it to say, Justin’s ramen noodle hair just wasn’t doin’ it for me anymore. Sure, I LOVED “Cry Me a River” and I always responded to the call-and-return part of “Seniorita,” at school dances, but at the end of the day, I much preferred dudes who wore tattered skinny jeans and had hair so greasy that it effortlessly molded into a mohawk when prompted.
But my adoption of this new image didn’t stop me from having one of my “preppy” friends secretly burn me a copy of “FutureSex/LoveSounds,” which I secretly listened to incessantly, sandwiched between a screamo version of “My Sharona” and The Sound of Animals Fighting (the band- not to be confused with the literal interpretation of Michael Vick’s feuding, rancorous pit bulls – too soon?).
Years passed and Justin left the spotlight. There was no reason to debate my feelings for him because he was out of sight, out of mind… and then he came back, sexier than ever.
My main concern is that I’m becoming one of those Twilight moms, or worse, the kind of girl who’s SUPER into Disney sing-a-longs. I’ve always cringed at the thought of them – those people who are so boring that they just eat up whatever they’re handed– never thinking twice or taking a second to explore other options, but living safely in a cycle of nostalgia and slowly but surely, becoming so dated that their interests are no longer age appropriate.
I fear that my rekindled love of JT symbolizes my falling out with the indie community- a sign that I’m just too old, too uncool to keep up with their fast-paced nature.
Is it time to give in to popular culture? Is it because I finally lack enough free time to browse the web in search of “the next big thing?” Am I just settling for Justin because television programmers and Miller Lite ads are throwing his music in my face? Am I going to spend the rest of my life cuddling with my cats, living in the past?
I genuinely like JT’s new single and the other tracks that I’ve heard from “The 20/20 Experience” so far. It’s catchy, it’s well-evolved – it even has a sequel – but there’s still that voice in the back of my mind, saying, “Abbie, come on, you’re not a child anymore.”
But then I watch him perform – this guy, whose career I’ve been watching for almost twenty years – and I see how much he loves it, how good he is at it because he loves it. I still firmly stand by my opinion that “Dick in a Box” isn’t all that it’s hyped up to be, but I’ve always enjoyed watching Justin perform on SNL and other late night television programs because he gives 100% to his sketches, which is what makes a solid performer. And I think, I hope, that’s why he’s so fascinating to me: he’s a success story. He’s a celebrity who hasn’t self-destructed or completely sabotaged his career and he’s still smiling because he’s doing what makes him happiest.
So instead of worrying about what my peers might think of my teeny-bopping, maybe I should take a page from JT’s book, throw away the notions of who I should be, and just enjoy who I am and what makes me happy.
Welcome back, baby.
A.J. Scott is a contributing editor. She is also a Cleveland native and a Chicagoan at heart. A.J. is currently exploring New York City and trying not to get lost every time she steps onto the subway. She enjoys making her cats dance and eating anything made out of chocolate. Tweet her @abbienamestnik