Ever since I first realized that I have the power to observe other humans, I’ve always been fascinated with “cool girls.” When I was under the age of five, any person over the age of five generally fell into the cool girl category. If you were older than me, you passed the test without actually having to take the test or meet any sort of demanding, five-year-old qualifications. If you were older than me, wore makeup, and drove a car, you were too cool for my child brain to even register.
Sadly, I have gotten older (growing up is hard, right?) and my definition of “cool girl” has broadened in ways that five-year-old me would not have been prepared for. Now, I can spot a cool girl from miles away and she no longer need be above the age of five. I’m like a cool girl scientist. A coolologist? (We can work on the name.) She’s the type of girl who dyes her hair at a moment’s notice. She has piercings, tattoos, and has rebelled in ways that are reminiscent of a John Hughes’ movie. She dresses like no one else, wearing clothes from stores that smell of incense and teen angst. This girl looks and acts like she’s about to become an artist’s muse at any moment. She sneaks out at night. The rules don’t factor in to any of her plans, but, somehow, she knows how to break them and act out in all her cool girl glory.
I focus on all of these physical, materialistic, and outwardly cool girl traits for a reason. I do so because these physical manifestations speak of something that these girls possess on the inside: confidence. It takes confidence to dress, dye, primp, pierce, and strut in a way that causes you to stand out. I would know. I am terrified to do all of those things. I am terrified to rebel because I don’t know what will happen and because I am petrified of the all-powerful “unknown.”
In other words, what I have always appreciated about these cool girls is what I lack in myself. I have terrible anxiety. And Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I’m awkward. I have a weird way of looking at the world. I’m not good in large crowds. I try way too hard. I only have my ears pierced because I am afraid of greater commitment in the field of bodily additions. Sometimes, I have trouble leaving my house because the world seems like one big haunted house. I don’t know who I am yet. After many years in this body, I’m still trying to figure it all out – how it works, why it does the things it does, why my brain thinks the way that it thinks. I care too much about others and what they think of me. I am not confident. I am not a cool girl.
I hope some of you readers can relate to any (or all?) of the mumbo jumbo above because I’m about to answer a question that I hope will apply to all of us that don’t feel like cool girls.
Is there hope for the people who feel like they are as far from cool as one can get on the thermometer of life? (I know this wording sounds cheesy, but I’m keeping it because it creates an interesting visual.)
Personally, as a pessimistic person, I feel that there is hope… but that it’s going to be a lot of work. There are going to be many steps involved that cannot be solved with hair dye, new clothes, combat boots, cigarettes, or anything else that involves currency. You know how it takes the Grinch the whole entire movie for his heart to grow three sizes? It’s going to be like that, but minus the holiday spirit and stuff. Becoming a cool girl is, in a few words, about learning to love yourself, which means learning to understand yourself, which means learning to accept the way that your body/brain works, which means… Okay, I lied about it only being a few words.
Step 1: Take risks.
I think that playing it safe can be a terrible way to live because it means that you are not exploring. And when you’re not exploring the world, you’re not exploring yourself. You don’t have to buy a ticket to some exotic location or drop some major cash on a vacation. Taking risks is, instead, all about going outside of your comfort zone and doing things that scare you. Break the rules (but don’t hurt anyone because that’s just not cool). Go skinny-dipping. Tell someone how you truly feel about them. Get in the car and just drive. Do karaoke. Carve wooden sculptures and sell them online. It doesn’t have to be big or grand, it just has to be different from what you would normally do.
What have I, personally, done to accomplish this step? Well… what I am doing right now. Posting my personal, heartfelt writing online scares the crap out of me. It’s almost as if I am taking my heart, pressing it within the sleek folds of a scanner, and allowing the whole world to pick it apart once it’s transformed into a live online creation. My writing is personal. It is raw and real. It is who I am. And putting myself out there in this worldwide-web way is the biggest risk I have ever taken.
Step 2: Re-define “cool.”
I will be the first to admit that my definition of cool is pretty lame. I mean, I might as well be playing in a Disney Channel Original Movie or something. Changing our definitions of “cool” is essential if we ever want to see ourselves as such. Especially because our current definitions don’t even come close to the person that we are (example: my definition). Being cool shouldn’t be something that is set in stone. It should be about an idea or a way of being. Cool should mean living your life in a way that corresponds with what makes you feel happy, passionate, weird in a good way, daring, and excited to wake up in the morning (if you can achieve this, please contact me with details). If that involves dying your eyebrows bright pink, right on. If that involves spontaneously cutting your hair into bangs and a bob (I am talking about myself here, people), rock on! (No regrets so far on the hair front.) If that involves dressing in only jeans and t-shirt, that’s cool, too. As long as you’re living your life, that should be synonymous with being cool.
Step 3: Treat yo’ self like royalty.
This is my way of saying that you should treat yourself better. I don’t think I’m cool and that’s a problem. If you don’t think you’re cool, that is also a problem. It means that there is a lack of a love connection going on with that person staring back at us in the mirror. What do you love about yourself? Focus on that and build up from there. For instance, I love the fact that I can walk because it means that I can go places. (It’s all about the little things, right?) Just think, there’s someone out there right now that wishes they had what we have, which is the perfect cause for celebrating what makes us unique/beautiful/awesome/human/COOL.
As I am writing this, I feel a weight lifted off of my shoulders. It feels cool to announce that I am not cool. Even though I am sitting here, in bed, in my pajamas, sipping on ginger ale because I spent all of yesterday puking in a garbage can, I still feel a tad bit cooler than I did pre-writing. And if that doesn’t say something about being cool, then I don’t know what does.