Are You Guilty Of Acting Cool?

I have developed a massive headache writing this post because I hate the word cool, coolness, coolish and every other variation of it so much.

When I was younger I had no doubt that coolness wins the ladies’ heart. Therefore I thought I’d be more appealing if I acted like Brad Pitt in Fight Club or David Duchovny in Californication.

The reality however was quite humbling. Most down to earth, authentic people I met didn’t want to have anything to do with a 18 year old boy who had to play cool in order to hide his insecurities.

The good news is, it wasn’t just me.

Fake coolness is an epidemic

Nowadays more than ever people seem to have an inner urge to act cooler than they actually are. Especially around individuals they want to impress – like potential sexual partners or people they admire. And it’s totally understandable.

Society tells us all the time that coolness wins. Just look at every action movie, or rap music video or successful athlete. Piles of cash, stylish clothes, beautiful women, exclusive clubs, helicopter rides – the list goes on and on.

But is coolness maybe just a concept designed to lure people into spending money? Are we just trying to be cool because someone else wants us to?

Acting cool does not equal cool

There are two types of coolness: being naturally cool and acting cool. The former is a positive trait that stems from life experiences. It can’t be faked or bought and there is no shortcut to it. Naturally cool people don’t try to be cool – they just are. People who act cool on the other hand try to look better than they actually are by imitating actors, musicians and others who fit their definition of cool. But their premise is flawed. Let’s compare a man who exudes natural coolness with a guy who acts cool to illustrate my point.

Naturally cool manMan who acts cool
Speaks his mindSays what he thinks will make him look good
Goes his own way no matter whatGoes the way he thinks his role model would take
Doesn’t care what others think of himWants to impress with his coolness
Is extremely confidentIs confident people like him better if he isn’t himself
Has a personality that has been shaped by living life to the fullestHas an immature personality that is hidden behind layers of fake behavior
As you can see, acting cool is pretty much the opposite of what the person doing it wants to achieve. Guys think no one can look through the game they play but in reality everyone does – at least on a subconscious level. Humans, especially women, are incredibly good in sensing incongruencies in a person’s behavior. Most people won’t be able to spot what exactly is off but their gut feeling will make them feel uneasy in the presence of these people.

Accepting yourself is the solution

The source of fake coolness is an inner doubt in your own greatness – a lack of self-acceptance.

Self-acceptance usually starts to set in when people give up. When you have done anything you can to impress others but don’t see the results you hoped for, you come to the point when you tell yourself “Fuck it, from now on I’ll just be me and who doesn’t like it can kiss my ass”. That’s what needs to happen but you can also actively make steps towards loving yourself.

I love you

Get in front of a mirror, look at yourself and say to yourself “I love you”. Yeah,  I know it sounds cheesy but it works and that’s all that matters to me.

There are lots of things we can’t change, like our height, bone structure or skin color. (with certain unfortunate exceptions) But those are none of our concern.

Improve what you can and learn to love (or at least accept) what you can’t. Just like it doesn’t make sense to dwell about the past, there is also no point in putting yourself down just because you aren’t 6 feet tall. It’s just the way it is and it doesn’t matter anyway. What make you unique is not your height or the color of your skin. It’s what goes on inside your head that matters. Trust me, a man who accepts himself fully but also constantly improves, is rarer than a 6-foot tall guy with sixpack abs and dreamy eyes.

You are a work in progress. Always remember that.

It is OK

In another post, I write about the three magic words to get rid of anxiety. They are “It is ok”. Those words are perfect for letting go of the need to act cool.

For example: You are at a party and everyone wears suit and tie but you just wear jeans, T-shirt, and a blazer – it’s ok. You aren’t hurting anyone with it. It’s not as if people poked out their eyes just because you wouldn’t dress “correctly”.

Whenever you feel uncool or embarrassed just tell yourself “it is ok” and enjoy the relief. It sounds too simple to be true but this little exercise is a game-changer!

Accepting yourself fully and living according to your own values – instead of the values of others – is the only way you can ever become naturally cool. And even if it should turn out you are not the next Steve McQueen, “it’s ok”, because you don’t care about being cool anymore.

“If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation.”

– Jiddu Krishnamurti