There is such a lust for coolness inherent in our culture, or perhaps manufactured and implanted over time — this desire to be rich, famous, glamorous. To be revered, admired. To walk into a room and command attention.
The problem is we live in a society that’s always got money on the mind and so with a fetishized notion of cool, it’s easy to create commodities and then through subconscious influence make them necessary accoutrements to embody the image of cool. There’s a never-ending supply of props churned out to enhance our aura, all destined from conception to expire and make way for new ideas and accessories. And the pressure is on to keep up, which means more money for us to spend — because now that we’re cool, how could we ever possibly revert back to being uncool? We buy into the idea, and then we buy the goods. But really, it’s the idea of cool that can be most dangerous. It’s the mental element that permeates and dictates actions, thoughts, habits, and behaviors.
Nowadays, these elements — many of which can be negative — are proliferated through social media more widely and rapidly than ever before. So you can give a little something away in exchange for coolness with one click of a button or tap of a touch-screen, without even realizing it.
The allure is unyielding and ever-present — the pressure sometimes palpable. But when it comes to being cool, here are some things it’s never worth sacrificing:
1. Loyalty and friendship.
Betrayal doesn’t only take place on Shakespearean levels — it’s the little things, too. Being a loyal friend is cooler than trying to be cool, and far more rewarding. Creating a façade to hang around or be associated with people who are considered popular is a shallow pursuit that will have shallow results.
There will be moments in life when it is your sole companion — others in which it’s the tool to repair a burnt bridge. When you make mistakes, it’s your track record, your point of reference. It lets people see who you actually are, even if you showed yourself differently in a particular circumstance. It’s the North Star extension of who you are in the world, and to give it up is to lose yourself.
3. Your beliefs.
It’s one thing to be open-minded, and to allow a new perspective to change your own. It’s entirely another to relinquish your own beliefs and values because they don’t align with what’s in style. It’s a lot harder to be a real someone of substance with a grasp in the world if your thoughts are nothing but mirror images. Think critically. Your thoughts are locally produced in your mind — no factories or machines or conveyer belts full of duplicates. So treat them like diamonds, pulled from your own mental treasure trove.
4. Your own ideas of what “cool” is — your personal style and aura.
That’s the stuff that really exudes and entices. People who claim their own self without embellishment, who are utterly themselves and self-righteous in it. Look in the mirror and see yourself — you keep your own company every minute, without fail. Defend yourself. Ownership over yourself is the bossiest attire. There is no other you, so you might as well walk like your existence is one of a kind.
5. Your hard-earned money.
There are so many better ways to spend your money than on trying to achieve “cool.” Save those precious pennies. I’m not saying don’t buy something you’ve been eyeing for a while — I like new stuff as much as the next person. I’m not saying never treat yourself. But check your motives. And check your priorities. And definitely check your bank account. Then assess and move forward accordingly.
6. Your imagination.
The ability to step past the present reality and transform it into something amazing — the ability to see the potential in everything. If you limit yourself to images and ideas crafted for you, you cut off your creativity before it even has a chance to thrive.
Hold on to all of it — don’t give a drop of your loyalty, character, values, or personality to the cool-cause. If you do — learn from it and stop it. Count on that integrity to be your track record — it was a mistake, then get back to your usual. You’ll accomplish a greater coolness than you ever would have earned. See the thing is — how much cool can you really buy from a supplier that doesn’t value that very currency you provide? If the cool you strive for doesn’t value loyalty, then there’s only so much cool trading loyalty will buy. After that, you’re on your own — literally, because you turned your back on the people who watched it.