Think of someone you consider “cool.” Now think about what factors make you label them as such. Maybe it’s their sense of style. Maybe it’s how put together they look all the time. Maybe it’s how easy, how effortless, they make life look.
Because of social media, we live in a time when we are constantly shown the highlights of everyone’s lives. We see people post their “cool” outfits and their fun outings with their “cool” friends.
I used to be obsessed with being seen as “cool.” I wanted people to see me as the unbothered, confident and outgoing “cool girl” in their class. Being complimented was one of the only reasons I put so much energy — and so much stress — into wearing “cool” outfits every day. And it worked. I got the external validation that I craved. Yet, I was still comparing myself to other people who seemed to be doing life better than me, people who seemed so much “cooler” than I could ever be.
Why was I still so miserable even though I was doing all of the “right” things to live a fun and full life? Why didn’t I feel fulfilled? After I had achieved the “cool girl” look, why didn’t I feel cool or good about myself at all?
It was incredibly draining, putting so much energy into fitting this social expectation that I put on myself. Where did all of this pressure come from, and why did it matter so much to me?
At a certain point, the facade broke down. Despite doing all the “cool” things, I was struggling with extreme insecurities regarding my friendships, my body and my future. My everyday life didn’t feel nearly as pretty as the image I had worked so hard to paint.
It wasn’t some huge realization that changed my perspective. It was more of a slow burn of difficult life experiences and personal struggles that forced me to stop worrying about the things that don’t hold nearly as much weight as I thought they did. I was forced to take a step back.
Here’s the thing about striving to be cool: instead of doing the things you like, you do the things that society tells you you’re supposed to like. You hide away the things that others might label as “cringe-worthy” and only showcase to the world and to others what’s socially acceptable. If you’ve never had to struggle with this, you’re already ahead of the game. But if you’re like me, you’ve kept yourself from getting overly excited about that one random thing you happen to really, really love because you don’t want anyone to think you’re “weird” for liking it.
Do you want to know the secret to being cool? The secret to being cool is to fully embrace the things that make you excited about life, no matter how specific, cringey or weird anyone else might think they are.
How sad is it that we’ve been conditioned to see other people’s excitement about something we don’t understand in the way they do as cringey? I’m not going to lie, sometimes I still catch myself judging another person for their quirks or the things that they post. But is that person really doing anything wrong? Or am I just secretly jealous and projecting my insecurity onto them because I’m afraid of people judging me while being that exact judgemental person I am afraid of?
Maybe this is a hot take, but the coolest people I know are often considered the cringiest by others. Do you want to know what’s actually cringey? Judging others for liking things that are harmless and that you don’t understand. It’s time we stop making ourselves miserable in the name of coolness and start embracing all of the cringey, weird and un-cool things that actually fulfill us.