A Calmer you, by Sonal Kalra: So you think you’re cool, huh?
Read on if you think you are cool. Surely read, though, if you wish you were cooler.Updated: Aug 02, 2020 09:22 IST
I am not a big fan of being cool. It could well be a case of sour grapes because I’ve never managed to look or behave ‘cool’ in the popular sense, but it’s also because I really don’t know what people mean when they call someone or something cool. A person is cool, and so is a pair of torn, distressed jeans. And then some people are perceived to be cool because they are wearing torn, distressed jeans. Whatever the criteria, they are mostly, and sadly, to do with how a person dresses up, or looks, in general. And also how different from others does he look or behave.
In college, I had a professor who always met with compliments on how utterly cool he was. Because he would turn up to teach every morning wearing a kurta and denims that were crumpled enough to have easily come out of a horse’s mouth, after he had chewed on them for two hours. Non-stop. Yes, he looked different and was thus perceived to be more creative than others who would stick to convention, and always had this aura of ‘cool’ around him. I secretly sympathised with him. It must be damn tough to always be under pressure to live up to the image, and on top of it, not have an iron at home.
Over the years, I feel the definition of cool is getting more and more misplaced. Being rebellious, some think, is cool. They may be right, depending on what they are rebelling against. Being disrespectful for the heck of it, I’m sorry, doesn’t cut much ice.
I’ve seen young people respond inappropriately to seniors or teachers, and get away with it in the garb of being cool. The other day, a young guy at work preferred giving a smart-alecky reply to a senior who had pointed out a folly. He got the laughs and a ‘cool’ tag alright, but, I would any day prefer a plain sorry, even if it means being thought of as fuddy-duddy. Because it may be out of fashion, but ‘what you say’, and whether you mean it, will always be more important than ‘how you say’ it. A lot of you, especially students, keep asking me for tips on how to be the cool one in a group of friends. It’s very easy to advise things like flaunt trendy clothes, speak fluently, be in good shape etc... but then you already know these things. And I hope that some of you also realise that these things can at best make you seem cool at a superficial level. Much like the medicine for common cold, it can only make you feel better for a short while by suppressing the outwardly symptoms.
What you have inside, is what matters. Here’s what I want to advise, instead.
1.Don’t try too hard: We are all wired differently, for a reason. We mess up with our original circuit way too much. Getting influenced by those who impress you is fairly natural, but the moment you start applying their definition of cool to yourself, you run the risk of getting yourself into a rut. By the way, do you know that the formal dictionary has only one meaning of ‘cool’? And that is: moderately cold.
This only means that you are free to define the slang ‘cool’ in the manner you like. For me, having good manners is being cool. For you, having six-pack abs may be cool... whatever it is, the definition has to be your own, and suiting your own sensibilities. Try too hard to fit into someone else’s criteria, and you may turn into a basket case. Now that’s never cool.
2. Have a sense of humour: A good sense of humour, especially the ability to laugh at yourself, single-handedly beats wearing all luxury labels in the world. Whiners and sob champions can only get sympathy, that too for a while, but never adulation. If you can make others laugh — remember it’s different from laughing at others — you are cool. Torn denims or not!
3. Not being cool doesn’t necessarily make you uncool: This is most important... especially because a lot of us tend to develop an inferiority complex when we see others who may be smarter or cooler than we are. Well, good for them, but that doesn’t make you any less. It’s always one or two people in a group who tend to be the natural centres of attention. Nothing wrong with that, as long as they don’t start treating others like lesser beings. Stop competing with them. More importantly, stop trying to be like them. Even if you turn yourself into their clone, you’d still remain a clone, right? Be yourself, without any tension of competition, and watch the magic. Human beings are also like fingerprints... all unique in some sense. Focus on identifying the uniqueness in yourself, and make sure it doesn’t get lost in your efforts to be outwardly cool. And by the way, do you know that a lot of people tend to say,“Wow, that’s so cool,” when they see someone doing something very stupid. I’m not saying it, research is.
You can now also listen to Sonal Kalra’s podcast #TensionNot