What the hell is “cool” anyways?

By Suhani Suneja, Blog Staff

Last Friday I felt failed and miserable. I couldn’t accomplish my mission.  It was the first moment I’d had to breathe in a long time, and I found myself watching Gilmore Girls for the millionth time. Despite knowing that this show brings me peace and joy, I found myself aching and feeling ashamed of myself. “Another Thursday/Friday that you’re staying in and not going out. You’re such a loser,” I constantly internalized without even realizing.  In my head, despite it being one evening, I had truly failed in my social life. I’m someone who has always cared deeply about my grades, and in my head I gave myself an F for the day. 

After coming to this conclusion about myself, I decided to take the obvious next step: Look for evidence, but only evidence that supported this one theory (I’m sorry to all of my science professors). See, this is why she declined your invitation to hang out with you. She said she was busy, but really you reek of your mundanely stupid life and insufferable attitude.  

Everyone is going to know that you didn’t go out. Everybody. And they’ll know that you’re a loser, just like you were in High School. 

Every Friday of High School, I would go home and watch Netflix or occasionally hang out with my small group of friends. I would be filled with the deepest envy every time I’d see the so-called “popular” or “cool” kids at the time on Instagram with cute costumes on at weekly parties that I was never invited to. I wished so badly for the social redemption of saying I was going to a suburban house party just to feel visible to people I no longer remember to think about. 

Fast forward to last Friday evening, which I dared to spend relaxing after a long week of 14-hour-days. After telling myself the whole evening how uncool I was, I realized that, despite being a 19-year old in college, I sounded like an actual Mean Girls character. Even in this different social environment, I had taken the definition given to me by 16 year olds that never cared about me and continued to run with it. And I thought, you keep referring to yourself as cool or not cool. But what is the very definition of cool? If you tried to make a dictionary definition, or tried to explain it to a child, what would you say?  

I searched my brain for a true answer and couldn’t find one. I had held myself and only myself to such a restrictive binary. Then, when I thought back to who in my life I actually think of as cool or interesting or people I admire, it’s people that are so authentically themselves and own it with confidence. I don’t behave the way they do, but I thrive off their energy. 

Then it appeared to me that, by my new definition of cool, I fit the category too. I use my own funky fictional vocabulary, often adding a suffix “sies” to random words, like saying “byesies” or “coolsies” to my friends. I go out when I want and continue binge-watching or cathartically writing when I don’t. I wear colorful eyeliner around the house when no one is around. I follow celebrity drama for constant entertainment. I feel deep emotions and express them with vulnerability. I drink coffee and go on long walks. I am simultaneously as odd and as basic as I want to be. I may not know who I am yet, but I follow my heart— and in my normal stubborn fashion, refuse to follow anyone else’s standards. I love you for it, I say to myself. 

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