There are lots of ‘cool rules’ that we will go over that are general ways of being. You can apply them to a million situations, and they will generally point you in the right direction. I think these are more valuable than advice that is too specific, like ‘how to behave at a roller rink’ or something stupid like that. You may never go to a roller rink in your life, so I had to cut that chapter. This chapter stays, and is number one, and it’s called ‘Own It’. At the time I’m writing this book, this is a phrase that’s being used a lot. Maybe overused. Maybe by using it as well, I am decreasing this book’s cool factor right off the bat, but I happen to think that it beautifully sums up a behaviour essential to achieving EVERYBODY’s cool aspirations.
Owning it refers to taking responsibility for ones thoughts, words and actions. Be who you are, and celebrate it. As humans we are all incredibly flawed. Some more than others. It’s a normal human reaction to try to camouflage, avoid, or be ashamed of these things. Nobody could fault a person for reacting this way. It’s a strong bet that most people have things in their life that they’ve said or done that they would rather not have people know about. Everybody has a few secrets. If every moment in our lives was a proud one, then I surely wouldn’t need to write this book. How you react to these situations is very important to your cool factor.
What if we just owned it? What if we embraced our flaws? Isn’t that part of what makes us who we are as individuals? Isn’t there some coolness associated with being an individual? Who’s judging us anyways? Something interesting happens when you start to own all of your unique characteristics, both good and bad. You start to realize that other people’s opinion of you doesn’t matter as much as your own opinion of yourself. You start to realize that other people can’t hurt your self-esteem unless you allow them to. There’s something empowering about admitting you’re wrong, acknowledging your weaknesses, realizing that your mistakes are learning opportunities. Trying to make people believe that you’re perfect is exhausting! It’s also (counter intuitively) no path to cool. Pretending to be something or someone you’re not is generally done for the purpose of greater acceptance. The irony is that it’s universally way cooler to just be who you are. If you want to take it up a couple of notches, go over and above just being who you are, and actually try to enjoy who you are. The by-product of that exercise is that while you’re enjoying who you are, it makes it easier for others to enjoy who you are as well.
Now I’m not here to suggest that everybody just has to start being an open book in order to be cool. There is a negative cool factor associated with over-sharing depending on the situation. I obviously can’t break down every situation and give you a ‘cool judgement’ in this book. You’ll have to figure it out on your own, but what kind of book would this be if I didn’t give you a few examples??
Be able to take a joke. Especially when the joke’s on you. This is a great one for young people, because this does get easier with experience. How you handle yourself, when people are having fun at your expense is a great indication of how cool you are. Your first instinct will generally be to have your feelings hurt. You need to get past that. In my experience, if you laugh along with the perpetrators, and are unafraid to poke fun at yourself too, it takes some or most of the sting out of the attack. When people see how well you handled it, your cool factor will increase immediately. If you’re not the type of person that can be easily handle this kind of teasing, then fake it til you make it. You can always go to a public bathroom and throw up afterwards if you want, but while people are watching, you have to be cool.
Some people take this skill a step further, and develop a self-deprecating sense of humour. Let’s not take this too far. It is very cool to be able to poke fun at yourself occasionally, but when you become the bully that is constantly making yourself a punchline in order to get a laugh, shut it down. The confidence it takes to be unaffected is what makes you cool here. You can’t try to backdoor the cool making yourself look like an idiot to show how comfortable you are with it. Take the joke, don’t make the joke. Everything in moderation.
Know how to shine! This is all about balance. I think there’s nothing wrong with being quiet and unassuming. I think it’s great when you can be awesome at something in life, or at life in general, and be humble and modest enough so the whole world doesn’t stink of your accomplishments. If you have the restraint to not rub your greatness in the uninterested faces of every single human being you come across, then you are someone to be admired.
THAT SAID, I don’t necessarily think it’s cool to downplay your achievements in life that you worked your ass off for, just to seem humble. Shine unapologetically!! If you are Superman, then the world doesn’t benefit from you running around in a Clark Kent outfit all day pushing your oversized glasses back up onto the high part of your nose. There’s nothing cool about being a great singer, and then only singing in the shower. If you are one of the chosen few who are blessed with the ability to do great things during your time on this planet, then recognize that ability, and get off your ass and do something about it. The universe wants you to succeed. After years of working to put yourself in a situation where you can succeed, you serve nobody’s best interests by making the whole thing a big secret. Own your success! It’s your job to get out there and inspire people to be courageous enough to follow a similar path. That’s cool to me. Just don’t be an arrogant asshole about it.
Share your passion! If you’re nerd, a sports fan, a groupie, an antique collector, a cigar enthusiast, someone who loves to play Bingo, or belong to any other niche category of interesting people, don’t be ashamed of your perceived weirdness. You’re not weird, you’re passionate about something that other people don’t know about. Maybe that means you need to hang out with like-minded people. Or maybe it means you should share your passion with people who have absolutely no idea how you became interested in such things.
So you’re a bug collector. I know that’s not the classic example of cool. You should have a story to tell. You should be able to articulate your passion. If I met you at a party, and found out you collected bugs, there’s a good chance that I’d be curious to know why. What do you love about it? Why is it the best hobby ever? Know the answers to these questions, and be able to sell the ‘bug life’. People may not find it interesting, but if you share your passion, they might find you interesting.
The exception to the above advice is knowing your audience. During this conversation, look for the non-verbal cues that I actually give a shit before you really drill down and give me a long-winded explanation of the Earwig’s mating habits. It’s best to keep to surface nerdiness with strangers.
Whether it’s accepting negativity, acknowledging positivity, or being passionate, you need to own these things in order for your cool factor to climb a few notches. People want to experience the real you. I’m not underestimating the courage it takes to actually be yourself, and be proud of who you are despite the fact that like most of us you are probably riddled with imperfection. It’s having that courage to step out, and be who you really are that truly makes you cool. Take responsibility for, and embrace all aspects of your being. It sounds easier than it is.