It’s Monday morning, the worst day of the week. As you make your way through the school entrance and look around, those new pair of shoes or a new phone or a new “popular” item that everyone has. A voice inside your head goes, “Man, that’s cool.” You hear about a party or concert that happened over the weekend and how awesome it was. “Wish I could have been there.”

The term “cool” is part of our daily vocabulary, though it has changed over the years and has a wide range of meanings and uses. It used to be a way to tag people as calm, confident individuals, while the word now coins people and things as popular. There is a natural want that people have: to be accepted. The pressure to be accepted can be seen in many facets of life. Society is the ever constant supplier of this pressure to be something you’re not. The label “cool” is a goal people strive for and want—but for what? Cool is whatever you want it to be.

According to the New Yorker article “The Coolhunt” there is a theory of cool, which is “a real but unknowable property.” It is also compared to “good” because it can only be sought after, not fully achieved. The article outlines three characteristics that define cool:

-The act of discovering what’s cool is what causes cool to move on;

-Cool cannot be manufactured, only observed;

-Cool can only be observed by those who are themselves cool.

The world full of people who resemble you and like the same things as you. For example, music brings people together—that memorable beat or amazing solo. Sports, books, collecting, gaming—it’s your own type of cool.

High school is a time when people figure out themselves and what they like to do. However, these four years do not decide your future or the kind of person you will be later in your life. This is just a stepping stone and this stone can be a bit slippery, but it’s important to be balanced with enjoying your life to the fullest while being yourself.

The dictionary may have a definition of cool, but it can’t define my cool, or yours, or anyone else’s. Society can’t define it either. It can’t touch your coolness. So the next time you walk into school, just be yourself. The shoes you wear and the car you drive make no difference unless they are cool to you. Like my dad once said, “The coolest people during and after high school are the ones who are themselves.”