How to be Cool
Originally published on 1-26-11
When I was 9, I wrote as part of a school assignment, if I could change one thing I would change my body. And that was before People Magazine told me I was supposed to look like Jennifer Lopez. At age 12, I was 5’3 wearing a bra size that made my parents sweat every time I walked out the door and a size 7 ½ shoe. Maybe it was all the hormones I was ingesting with my daily glass of milk, or maybe just good reproductive Mexican genes. Whatever the case, I felt insecure and awkward, and the entire situation felt like a cosmic joke.
Years passed and I realized, it wasn’t only my body I was uncomfortable with, but I didn’t know how to dress, act in social situations with peers, or even what music to listen to. I seriously wanted to be part of the cool crowd and as a consequence I was highly impressionable and had fickle preferences.
Through my high school and college years I tried to be the BEST SOMEONE else I could be.
#01: High school party. Yes, I am wearing real leather Mom pants, smoking a cigarette. I didn’t even know how to inhale! But all the cool kids were doing it, so I hopped on the lung cancer bus.
#02: College Party. I was a freshman in college, at a fraternity party no less! (Not my style at all!) A sorority girl in one of my classes had bangs, and I thought getting bangs would up my coolness quotient. So off to Supercuts I went. Supercuts! The result was more like mini wings than bangs.
#03: College Formal. My hand adorned with acrylic nails. They just aren’t my style. And ANOTHER cigarette! At this point I knew how to inhale, but was still VERY much trying to be cool.
#04: College Formal. I had low self esteem and thought, the more cleavage the better. If I show more cleavage, more people will think I’m pretty. WRONG!
#05: UT Graduation. Let’s focus on my eyebrows. Clearly I let them grow wild, in an attempt to look like Brooke Shields. Let’s ignore the fact that she’s a statuesque beauty, and I am 5‘3. In my mind I was one step closer to coolness.
At the end of this charade I was exhausted because NO ONE can succeed at being someone else.
Eventually I learned, the coolest people aren’t cool because they try to fit in, they’re cool and people gravitate towards them because they have an unabashed sense of self. Cool: Frank Sinatra Not Cool: Jessica Simpson. Cool: Natalie Portman. Not Cool: Terrell Owens.
When you’re working so diligently try to be someone else, you forgo all the marvelous, authentic possibilities and connections all around you. What works for others, may not work for you, you have your own version of cool - you have to be ok with that. Bring your own personal best to the table and you’ll hit your stride.