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Who Defines 'Cool' Anyway?

I have a distinct memory of getting into an argument with my older brother. I don’t remember how it started, but it ended with him saying, “there’s always someone cooler than you.” My little heart pouted. Naturally, when we both ran to Mom, my brother protested that he was just singing the 2003 Ben Folds song “Always Someone Cooler Than You.” Well, he technically wasn’t wrong.

Recently, I’ve been giving more thought to “cool” after a conversation I had with a friend. I was telling him about someone I had befriended who was just so cool. I told him that I wasn’t sure I was “cool enough” to be friends with this person.

Shortly after the words left my mouth, I began to wonder who defines “cool” anyway. When Merriam Webster didn’t list the informal “cool” until seven definitions down, I, with hesitancy, turned to the ever enlightening Urban Dictionary.

This is what I found there.

“A cool person to me is being real. Being themselves and not caring how other people view what they say or do. When I say you're cool, that's what I mean. Today too many people are concerned how others view them. Posting pictures on social media sites of themselves on vacation or where they are eating dinner that particular evening. **** that. Do things for yourself and for YOU to enjoy it, not to show everyone else what you're doing.”

Cool doesn’t default to adventure. Or to a high paying job. Or to a high school social hierarchy.

Cool is the person who is spending a lot of quiet time and reflection trying to figure out who they want to be. Cool is the one who works a standard 9-5 job that they really enjoy and lives for the weekend at home with their partner. Cool is spending all your free time at the library or the skate park or the temple. Cool is being outspoken in a crowded room or sitting on the sidelines. Cool is dancing and laughing and exploring and sitting and reflecting and meditating and jumping and racing and swimming and praying and loving and waiting.

Cool is you.

And we get to define it however we want. So I choose to see “cool” in every new person I meet and in the heart of every old friend I am blessed to know. And I’m choosing to include myself there.

Love always,


^Thanks, Merriam Webster

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