Admit it, we all want to be cool. Most of us are waist-deep in the rat race to be cool. Now, I’m not talking Ferris Bueller cool—none of this “too cool for school” jazz here. I’m talking about a maturation in the state of cool. Again, cool doesn’t mean you’re trendy, hip and popular. In this particular case, cool means collected, secure and intentional. It doesn’t matter if you drive a BMW, drink at Starbucks or carry an iPod. As we approach a new year, it’s important to realize the new concept of cool.
[Don’t Sweat It—Stay Collected]
I recall a class presentation I had to give in fourth grade. It was about dolphins and their amazing ability to communicate using sonar—too bad my nerves got the best of me. See, I had everything prepared. I had taken permanent residence in the D section of the public library and I had color coordinated index cards to boot. There was one thing I forgot to bring: my composure.
The presentation started out okay, but after peering out into my audience of prepubescent critics, I felt like William Hung on American Idol. My words came out stuttered and sweat started forming in areas abnormal for a 9-year-old kid. After finishing my five-minute presentation I was greeted with applause that felt forced and sympathetic. I scurried back to my seat, completely embarrassed. However, my humiliation receded because Walker Candelario was next. We were close buds, and I knew for a fact he didn’t do any preparation for his speech on waves. In fact, he didn’t even have notecards to help him out. I forgot to factor in one thing: Walker was cool.
Sure, he was making stuff up as he went, but man did he look good doing it. He looked everyone in the eye, made swooshing, wave-like noises with his mouth, and even had the class do the wave. Walker didn’t teach me one scientific fact about waves, but he did teach me the benefit of staying collected. Now, I’m not saying you can get through life acting like Zack Morris—trust me, not everyone is as naïve as Mr. Belding—but I am pointing out that being collected gets you heard. Of course it helps to actually have something significant to say, but 90 percent (my own estimate) of your delivery is based on presentation. You want proof: hello, have you already forgotten the debates.
[Who’s Your Daddy—Stay Secure]
I hated parent-teacher meetings. It was a time for kids to show off their moms and dads. No doubt I love my parents, but they worked at a dry cleaning factory. I was always afraid of what my fellow classmates would think after hearing my dad (in broken English of course) say, “I steam pants.” It always bugged me to hear other dads say in gloating fashion, “I am a doctor. I save lives.” Or “I am a lawyer. I send bad people to jail.”
However, I noticed something about my parents that I’ll never forget. They had no shame. Sure they were limited by their English, and yes, dry cleaning may not be the most sought after occupation, but they were secure in who they were. Every day that my dad woke up to go to work, he whistled out the door knowing that he was providing for his family.
Maybe your body doesn’t measure up. Maybe you’re not as witty as the guy next to you. Heck, maybe you work at a dry cleaners. Whatever your circumstance may be, only one person controls your confidence level, and that’s you. Being secure let’s people know that there’s something more than bones that keep you upright. Find your security in the constant, namely, Christ. Knowing who your Daddy is makes a world of difference. Greet the world with the security you find in an everlasting love.
[Where’s Your Map—Stay the Course]
If there’s one thing about cool folk, it’s the fact that they’re always going places. There’s intention behind a cool person’s decision. They just don’t order salad because everyone else does; they order salad because they have a diet plan they’re on. Cool people don’t just go to work because that’s what everyone does when they get older. No, cool people go to work because there’s something driving them.
Make sure you have a map. Maps can’t point out roadwork along the way or changes in the weather, but they have destination. There’s a reason why you’re on interstate 80; you’re going somewhere. Think about it. All the people you admire or consider high on the cool factor seem to be living a life of intention. Whether they’re motivated by family or a passionate vision, there’s a course they’re on. A map may look different to different people. Whether it’s done through writing in a journal, praying every morning or keeping a set of goals posted in your car, it’s important you have markers to keep you on the course.
We all want to be cool. Remember, you don’t have to shop at the right places or own the new gadgets to be cool. Being cool is quite simple: stay calm, be secure in who you are and live a life of meaning.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that, because the world needs people who have come alive.” —Harold Whitman
[Won Kim is currently trying to stay the course. His wife thinks he’s very cool. Currently his map reads: how to be a good father without freaking out.]
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