The paradox of cool

I think I’m over being cool.  And, ironically enough, I think it’s made me cooler.

Isn’t that the way of it?  The least cool thing a person can do is care too much, right? In fashion! In relationships!  Care too much – or rather, letting anyone know you care too much – is somewhat of a disaster.  Your cards are all out on the table.  Your je ne sais qois is sais quois-ed (excuse my French).

The paradox, of course, is that all of this trying-not-to-look-like-you’re-trying-too-hard business requires a ton of work, physically and mentally.  It’s the antithesis of cool, of effortless.  It’s inauthentic.  And it’s incredibly inhibiting.

Meticulously mussed hair, strategically undone buttons; I think I’m done with all of it, as a philosophy at least.  Ditto for fears of coming on too strong when it comes to making new friends, or sharing how much I miss old ones.  Letting go of those inhibitions and wearing my quirky, borderline ugly embellished sweater to work, or telling friends how much I value them whenever the inclination strikes, these are the things that feel like the most honest version of myself.

Sartorially speaking, this newfound outlook has worked wonders in the realm of personal style.  When I stopped thinking about the reception of my audience so much as I thought about having fun, I found new life in many of the pieces I had formerly cast aside.  Many things that I had purchased because I loved, but was too timid to wear, became staples re-imagined in new ways week after week. It left room for a joyful celebration of fashion, instead of forcing myself to maintain this sort of studied aloofness. Creatively speaking, it meant putting together new ensembles with artistry and playfulness.

There are so many more interesting things to be than cool.  Witty, elegant, sophisticated, smart – these are the things I find myself drawn to these days, the things I hope to embody.  Effortless, sexy, and cool, they’re all fine, evocative of a certain ethos, but they are adjectives that feel quite tired to me; I’m finding them a bit of a bore.

One of the most profound ways that this movement away from the prescribed notion of what it means to be cool has been a catalyst for change is within my relationships.  When I finally got over myself and reached out to people who inspired me to tell them so, and when I got outside of myself in order to give freely to all of my relationships with no expectation of reciprocity, friendships blossomed in ways I never could have foreseen.

So, if I have new friends, deeper friendships, and my clothes are better, doesn’t that sort of make me cooler?

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