Whilst drinking a ridiculous concoction of cocktails on Friday night with one of my favourites, conversation somehow turned to our school days and the different cliques that seem to exist within every school.
Somehow, at the age of 11 you get branded with a label that sticks with you for the next seven years. Even during those first few days of year 7, the rules of who is cool and who isn’t already are being set in stone.
The kids who turn up on the first day with dyed blonde hair, orange faces and mouths as loud as the neon cases on their nokia 3310’s (ok, so now I sound like an actual dinosaur) instantly gravitate towards each other and claim a spot in the classroom to sit and talk about boys while they reapply their mascara. Meanwhile, the rest of the year are left to gawp at these ‘mature’ girls, feeling wholly inadequate after thinking they were grown up for buying a glittery lipgloss ready for their first day at big school. Although people grow up as they get further up the school these groups tend to remain the same even when everybody is 17 and wandering into the sixth form area. As groups jostle to find a space to catch up on the weekend’s gossip, the same thought runs through almost every head, “Oh no, we can’t sit on those seats, we’re not cool enough... that’s where THEY all sit” (inevitably resulting in the ‘cool’ kids happily spreading out over half of the common room whilst the other 80% of the yeargroup are packed like sardines at the other end of the room).
Where I’m trying to go with this rambling little trip back into long forgotten yesteryear, is to say that this sort of thing does not happen in real life. Anywhere.
When have you ever been in a bar and had someone say “Excuse me love, but you’re not allowed to sit here, you just aren’t cool enough”? Or, have you ever been walking down the street and had someone say “you’re really not cool enough to pull off that outfit, please go home and change”? It just doesn’t happen. And yet, I’m sure from time to time we’re all guilty of holding ourselves back from trying new things because we don’t think we’re cool enough to get away with it. And I’m fairly convinced that these anxieties begin in the classroom, and although real life is a lot different, it can still pretty difficult to shake off the whole notion of cool.
Recently, I bought myself some wayfarers after weeks and weeks of trundling back and forth to the shop trying to decide whether I was actually cool enough to pull them off. Even after finally plucking up the courage to hand over my bank card to buy my beautiful Ray Bans, it’s taken me a good few weeks to realise that nobody on the streets actually cares about what I’m wearing on my face and I’ve stopped spending forever umming and ahhing about whether to just take them off and leave them at home. There really is no law about who can and can’t wear a certain pair of glasses, I bought them so I’m damn well not going to stop myself from wearing them just because I’m worried about people thinking I can’t pull the look off. Just like I’m never going to stop myself from going to a certain bar or watching a particular band just because I think everybody else there might be a little cooler than I am. I know people who will spend an entire evening feeling completely uncomfortable being somewhere because they see everybody else as better than they are. If they really took a look around they’d soon realise that nobody is staring at them and they have as much right to a good time as anybody else there.
Don’t let a fear of other people’s perceptions put you off anything you want to do. Just live your own life how you want and don’t feel as though you need to still prescribe to a certain label that was given to you when you wandered into your first day of school with a blazer so big not even your Dad would grow into. Having confidence in being yourself and not letting unfounded worries about how other people see you take over is really what makes you cool.
Be edgy. Be a bit of a nerd. Be happy. Seriously, who’s really going to stop you?
I saw this image on facebook today and I decided it was quite appropriate for this photo haha.