Being Cool

Coolness, it’s completely made up but everyone wants it. The irony: you can only achieve it when you stop wanting it.

Let’s start out by defining the term cool. Something is cool when it stands out from the normal. Something that is unique and different from the expected is seen as cool in the eyes of the people continuing to follow the normal trends. Something that breaks a trend is bound to stimulate your brain, releasing pleasure as new synapses form.

Here’s an example to clarify: the kid who acts out in class. When you are in school, there is an expectation that you behave a certain way that is most conducive to everyone learning. However, a student that decides to defy the expectation by talking back to the teacher, disrupting the class, or just acting different than the rest of the students is often seen as cool.

Let’s say you are in that class and everyday is pretty much the same. When that kid starts to talk back to the teacher, your reality is now different than your expectations so you begin forming new synapses based on what they are doing. The attention that the disruptive student claims is what makes that student cool because your day just got a little more fun.

Continuing with school, since it is where coolness is most influential, students will often try out new styles of clothes that are different than normal for the sake of standing out. There was a kid in my high school who tried wearing his pants backward in an attempt to be cool. That might sound stupid but somehow it caught on and a few other students did the same. Eventually, the backward pants became too normal and it lost its coolness. When something different is copied, we call it a fad. Fads always die because eventually the different thing is too common to be different anymore.

Coolness can sometimes be bought in the form of an expensive pair of shoes or a car. We see the expensiveness as cool because money is a valuable resource and not many people have enough to spend on pricey things. The rarity of expensive items makes them cool. Since businesses know that people aspire for coolness, it becomes a selling point for their merchandise.

Cool became institutionalized when the media and advertising companies started telling the people that something is cool just because celebrity icons use their products. In fact, celebrities are only cool because they are people who stand out from the norm; businesses want to use their coolness to sell their products to all the people aspiring to be cool.

In short, coolness is uniqueness without fear, also known as confidence. You are a unique person with a different set of DNA than everyone else in the world (unless you have an identical twin). Beyond your DNA, you are who you are because of your experiences. Combine your DNA and your experiences and you are unique among all other humans that have ever existed.

The difference between cool and uncool is the willingness to embrace your uniqueness instead of hide it. The more we try to fit in with what has been established as “cool,” the less we embrace our own inherent coolness. You are different than every other person that you have ever met and ever will meet. When you accept your differences and love yourself for them, everything you say and do becomes cool.