Earlier this year, in the midst of what seemed like a perpetual de-cluttering, I saw some clothes which reminded me of my younger days (Not that I feel less young now.). I changed my style so often, struggling to fit in and trying every possible way to get noticed. I remember denying being a nerd after making it to the honor’s list consistently. Even though I was never athletic, but I still tried out for the badminton team. I was not the best, but at least I could tell people I was a varsity player. After all, having one of those varsity jackets elevates you to the hierarchy of coolness . I couldn’t sing and dance, but I joined cliques who made it possible for me (well, except for singing). I took to the stage and experienced the encouraging cheers of a crowd. That’s cool. I didn’t have a knack for the arts, but I enrolled in a photography class. I had an exhibit of my black and white photographs, and my parents liked it. That should count. The truth is, I have done numerous things to be liked and accepted. I am certain many have done the same.
It is this nostalgic experience that allowed me to reimagine the days when a younger version of myself was struggling to discover and develop my very own identity. It was a difficult journey, a rollercoaster-like ride. I didn’t want to be like everyone else, but I was eager to be cool more than being popular.
Determining being cool as being the girl or boy next door, the captain of your team or a cheerleader, among others, are cliché stories. They are not necessarily the secret paths to cool. What I have surprisingly learned from the clothing industry of Forever21, for instance, is the power of challenging the norm without letting society dictate you what is prescribed. The favorite street style approved and budget friendly teen retail, that also makes dressing up experiential, emphasizes on uniqueness as opposed to uniformity, striking a balance between comfort and trendiness, without losing the cool factor. It also promotes a diverse definition of being cool, without being restrictive, and consequently breaking free from all forms of categorization. When you enter their store, you can be whoever you want; and leave, just as cool as you can be.
Forever21 lets you define what is cool with their endless variety of looks. It’s never about doing things for the sake of appearing cool, nor of fitting in—it’s about standing out in a crowd with the choices you make.
It encourages you to embrace the real you, your quirkiness and most importantly to be comfortable with your own skin. It screams the importance of being the best in your chosen interest.
Finally, it doesn’t allow you to fear missing out. In fact, it drives confidence in order for you to be cool in your own way.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to fit in or to become famous. At the same time, we should be cautious not to lose ourselves in the journey. On our road to coolness, there will be risks of losing our real identity. You don’t need to give up what you are comfortable with for the purpose of being trendy. Don’t succumb to uniformity while looking for uniqueness either. Learning how to balance what we desire and considering its trade-offs are one of the keys to being cool.
Looks from Forever21