Exene Cervenka is a writer, visual artist and punk rock pioneer. The
OC transplant is the lead singer for X, the Knitters and Original
Sinners. If you want to ask the legendary vocalist for advice–on your
love life, politics, your musical career–send an email to
I've spent most of my teenage life, especially the high-school years, being picked on for being tall, scrawny and uncoordinated. Despite having a solid group of friends throughout my freshman and sophomore years, I've always felt like an outsider whom most kids only acknowledge when they need answers to a chemistry exam. For the past year and a half, though, I've been almost fanatically dedicated to improving my station in life by working out, getting involved with hobbies outdoors, and meeting girls. There's no way to say why the transition came so suddenly; I think something snapped in my brain, telling me I didn't want to be ignored the rest of my life.
My group of friends doesn't really see it that way. More and more, I've
stopped hanging out with a lot of them, either because I'm busy, or they
act awkward around me at school, or they don't return my calls on
weekends. These guys have known me most of my life; they even supported
me when I first started making these changes, but now that I'm actually
getting results, I feel as though they think I'm becoming too
self-absorbed or I've just moved on.
In reality, when I'm not with friends I've made while rock climbing
(my favorite thing) or swimming, I spend a lot of time alone. I want to
reconnect with my old friends and explain why I've decided to change my
habits and outward appearance in a way that doesn't make them feel bad
for who they are or make me look like a narcissistic prick. I want to
get them all together for a meeting soon and talk about the issues we've
been having; any idea on how I can explain my situation to them?
You are very considerate of your longtime friends. Their feelings about you have changed as you have changed. No one needs to apologize for growing up or moving on or being true to oneself. You don't have to explain or try to make them more like you, either. Just live your life and stay in touch with them. You are going to meet hundreds and hundreds of people as you go through life. Some will drift away or you'll drift away; it's just the way it is.