Not cool is the new cool

By Christian Gallen

March 4 2015

As an Attitude presenter there are a couple of things that are impossible for me to escape from. The first is being recognised in public places as ‘that guy that talks about puberty’ and the second is constantly being asked if I have the latest app. “bro do you play Crossy Road, Flappy Bird, Candy Crush, 2048, Piano Tiles, Angry Birds, Temple Run, Google maps?.” And all I can think is, Google maps is not a game and that it is tough to keep up with the latest coolest thing.

Our generation spends so much time, money and stress on having the right stuff and wearing the right stuff. For some of us deciding what to wear is the most important choice we make every day.

The longer I have been alive the more I have notice how pointless it is to try and be cool. It’s not about the clothes; it’s the person wearing the clothes that makes them cool. If I busted my dad wearing a snap back, basketball singlet and rolled up chino’s I wouldn’t think my dad had “mad swag”. I would vomit in my mouth a little bit. Seriously, I mean the whole idea of trying really hard to be cool is really not cool.

A few years ago it was mufti day at my school and I was going through my white-boy break-dancing hip hop phase… as you do (if you don’t know what I mean, think LMFAO meets Jersey Shore). I must have tried on a dozen different outfits the night before until I settled on what I thought was the perfect/most outrageous mufti day combo I could put together. I’m talking about a highlighter yellow PVC rain jacket and white tear-away track suit pants. I wore a good selection of sweat bands. I even rolled up one leg of my pants. I rocked a gold chain. I looked amazing.

The problem was when I rolled up to school I quickly realised how stupid I actually looked. It was so obvious that I had tried too hard to look cool that day, and it was just unnatural. Everyone was uncomfortable. Luckily my friend thought that I was trying to be funny and complimented me on my hilarious costume. So I just went along with that. Haha, look at how funny I am with my ridiculous clothes… haha I am so funny. I felt like a muppet. But not a cool muppet, not like Kermit. There is something so cringy about trying too hard.

Now don’t get me wrong, it feels good to look good. And we should put some effort into choosing what we wear. In fact there is a saying, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have”. This is true unless you do your paper round dressed as the milk man. That is confusing. Can you imagine the chaos you could potentially cause your neighborhood? Everybody will be like “Why is my milk an Ezibuy catalog?” I’m just saying I don’t recommend turning up to your after school job in a full sniper Ghillie camo suit. The point is it reminds us to look sharp because being presentable is an asset.

The real problem is that sometimes we can get so stressed about looking cool that it controls our lives. We can worry so much about not having the right clothes or haircut or headphones that we think less of ourselves. We end up believing that if only we had those Beats by Dre’s then we would be happier.  If you want to be happy I think you should start with yourself, not your wardrobe.

Life is not a fashion show. I mean if it was, then there is no way that some of our politicians should be leading the country. If you are surrounded by people who only like you because of how you look you are going to find life stressful. If you hang out with people who might think you are cool until you pull out your mum’s old Nokia brick phone then you will always struggle to be happy. At Attitude we believe that the happiest people are the ones who have found something they are passionate about. Take athletes for example, they stroll around in Skins. Skins aren’t that cool. It’s like you are wearing a rash top for your legs. But they don’t care because they are doing something they love.

My challenge to you is next time you have an opportunity to wear mufti at school don’t wear your best gears. In fact put together the most ridiculous get-up you can from all those ugly old-school clothes you have lying around and rock that outfit like a boss. Do it, you won’t. Does the thought of doing this make you nervous and sweaty in areas you didn’t know could produce sweat?

Maybe you just love fashion and looking good and there is nothing wrong with that. But for so many young people our clothes and our styles define who we are. Don’t let that happen. It’s the man that makes the suit, not the suit that makes the man. And it’s the lady that makes the flower-print jeggings, not the jeggings that make the lady.

Honestly, there is nothing cooler than confidence. Imagine if you could wear that hand-me-down outfit with the self assurance that you are OK not matter what anyone else thinks. That, my friend, is cool. You can totally do it too. Remind yourself that it’s more important how you feel about yourself than how any of those judgmental losers feel about you. Trust me on this, people don’t actually think about you nearly as much as you think they think about you.

Macklemore says this “$50 on a T-shirt you are getting tricked by a business.” I think what he is getting at is the fact that the people who don’t need to try to be cool are usually the coolest..


Christian Gallen

Christian Gallen joined the Attitude team in July 2009 after completing a BA in Te Reo Maori. Christian’s performance and speaking ability has been honed through his involvement in various bands and speaking engagements.

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