When you’re in middle school, you eat, breathe, and live “coolness.” Most likely, you’re not part of the “cool crowd” because that’s reserved for only a select demographic, but you want to be in that group desperately. Maybe if you buy those latest tennis shoes or cut your hair like the most notorious celebrity, they’ll notice you, and you can begin your ascent into the heavenly realm of “coolness.”
But seriously, is “coolness” really all that cool? Is it even a real thing? When you’re young and naïve, there is absolutely no question of “coolness’s” clout, but once you reach your twenties, it doesn’t quite hold up the same importance. Sure, there are still people trying to convince themselves that they have style and “swag” and fame—that is, the adult definitions of “cool”—but is it really worth all the trouble?
I recently had someone comment on one of my videos to say that I “try too hard to be funny and ‘cool’” which I thought rather interesting. At first, I just rolled my eyes: “People are mean. Get over it, Kaitlyn.” Then I realized that no one had ever made that kind of comment before. Sure, people tell me I’m ugly or stupid or “not funny,” but no one had ever claimed I was trying unsuccessfully to be “cool.” Then it became funny for me because I have never been “cool” nor would I ever try to be “cool.” I learned a long time ago that “coolness” is overrated. Not just because I wasn’t part of the “cool” crowd, but because I realized it did nothing to enrich my life.
1.) “Coolness” doesn’t make you friends.
I don’t know if it’s movies or books or just grade school folklore, but somewhere during our maturation we come to believe that if we are “cool” and “popular”” then we will have lots of friends and be happy because of it. No one likes to point out the dark half of this idea: that your “popular” friends are only worried about one thing, maintaining their own popularity. Friendships are supposed to be based on mutual interests, care, and compassion for one another. When all you care about is how “cool” you are, how can you have compassion and concern for other people? What kind of a mutual interest is that anyway? I imagine I would tire of discussing how popular I am all the time. And yet somehow, this fake friendship is so enticing to our youth and really anyone who feels like an “outsider” to society.
2.) “Coolness” doesn’t help you excel at anything.
Maybe having straight A’s on your report card isn’t your ideal goal, but striving for “coolness” takes up your time and mental real estate that might have been better utilized for your own personal growth endeavors. When you’re always worrying about your social status, how can you achieve any other goals? If your whole life’s goal is to be popular, you might excel at that, but I can’t imagine it would be too rewarding.
3.) “Coolness” doesn’t garner you a perfect romance.
If you’re the most popular girl in school then you’re guaranteed to lock lips with the most popular guy at some point. Or at least have a trail of suitors everywhere you go. But these romances are about establishing, maintaining and destroying social standings. The football team captain doesn’t date the head cheerleader because he loves her (although its within reason that he could) but because of who she is and how it will look to his friends if he’s with her and what kind of social power it will give him over his peers. Unfortunately, people use relationships to grow their “coolness” and garner popularity—from teens to celebrities—so most likely, you won’t find the love of your life by climbing the social ladder.
4.) “Coolness” doesn’t teach you to value others.
As points one and three illustrate, “coolness” uses people and then disposes of them when they’re no longer worthwhile to the cause of gaining and maintaining popularity. People just become objects, pawns in a massive, meaningless game of Life. In your quest for coolness, assigning value to your peers means comparing yourself which would then cause your own inflated image of yourself to shrink—coming back down to normal size. Essentially, if you correctly value others, you can’t lie to yourself about your own coolness.
5.) “Coolness” doesn’t build your self-esteem.
Seeking coolness is one enormous attempt at convincing yourself that you’re better than the negative version you see of yourself in your head. In my opinion, the “coolest” people are those who would scoff at the idea of being called “cool.” (Can you say “hipster?” No, really. A real “hipster” doesn’t consider themselves a hipster either.) They know who they are and are extremely confident in that identity. It doesn’t mean they are without self-doubt at times, but they are comfortable in their own skin. They don’t have to put people down or use others to make themselves feel “cool” or “popular” or worthwhile. True coolness comes from inside us, and it’s never something we have to defend.
We just are who we are. And that’s “cool” in itself.
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