I’ve just spent the weekend with friends, as we have been to see Florence and The Machine, which was the first time I’ve ever seen the band live. It’s left me feeling high in the clouds, totally in awe, and given me a real passion for her music once more.
And whilst I was there, dancing, moving and observing Florence perform on stage for a few hours, I couldn’t help but feel captivated and enchanted by her. I wanted to be Florence (up there) performing my work to thousands of people, for a few short moments. She’s talented, bewitching, and utterly mesmerising. But most of all — she’s effortlessly cool.
Throughout my entire life I’ve always watched cool people from afar and admired them/wanted to be like them. The cool girls at school. Cool friends I knew in my twenties. In the public arena — musicians, actors, writers. But being cool myself never, ever came naturally. No matter how hard I tried (and I did, believe me).
At school I worked hard and listened to my teachers because I was sensible and driven and wanted to get on in life. Intelligence didn’t come naturally and so in order to succeed I knew I had to keep my head down (and out of trouble). But that meant that the kind of people I hung around with were fairly sensible, straight and conservative. And let’s face it, people like that don’t usually tend to do cool things, do they?
In my twenties, at the end of a busy day working in Human Resources Management, I liked to go out, get drunk and enjoy myself. House music was my preference and those nights with my mates were a lot of fun. But wild and hedonistic? They were not. The very cool people I knew would go on weekend benders. They would be addicted to drink or drugs. They would hang out in the best nightspots with the most interesting people. They would sit up, into the small hours of Sunday morning, complaining about how they hated their stifling jobs, the ‘regime’ and the oppression that management brought upon them. Me? Well I was first into work on Monday morning, couldn’t wait to grab the next promotion opportunity and salary increase that was headed my way. I was a hamster on the corporate wheel and bloody well going for it.
I must have always had a deep-down longing to be cool though. As a young woman, when I watched the movie Grease, it was Rizzo who was the one that I wanted to be (you know, the one who looked forty-five, got knocked up, then it turned out she wasn’t after all). Because Rizzo was strong, sassy and very cool. Women admired her; she walked with swagger. However, in reality I was more like Sandra Dee…shy, awkward, said stupid things, and unpopular. A bit of a nerd.
I also remember (later on in life) when Sex and The City exploded onto our screens and how I too yearned to be like Carrie; living a City-girl life, dating sexy and complicated men, and writing her magazine column from her apartment. In reality though I was way more like Charlotte than I cared to admit…aka nice and sweet, desperate to settle down and live in an immaculate house, have lots of babies, and basically know that I’d feel complete when I found ‘The One’.
In my mid-late thirties, however, I was probably at the most uncool point in my entire life. Although I’m not sure I knew many new mothers who could remain cool when faced with zero sleep, dirty nappies, Peppa Pig as your only reference material, and fellow Mum-friends who only ever talked about leaky boobs and baby poo.
But two kids, a ten year marriage, writing a blog and turning forty all has a funny way of grounding you and making you realise exactly what’s important in life…i.e. not chasing something you aren’t, and being happy with your lot. I am incredibly happy right now and I know my own mind. So why would I now give a flying fuck about wanting to be perceived as cool?
Because what does it matter anyway?
I have also realised recently that NOT ONE of my traits lends themselves to being a cool person and nor will they ever be, so the pursuit of cool (for me) is very flawed. I’m not laid back, I am not spontaneous, I’m not a trendsetter, I am not quirky or eccentric, and wild is *not* a word that would ever be used to describe me. Me? Well, I never run out of milk, I have the same lunch nearly every day, I live in a new-build home, I shop on the high street in the same four stores, I use a Google Calendar to meticulously plan the next three months of my life, and I have a healthy savings account. I’m mainstream and I am conventional.
But do you know what? That’s SO okay. Because, despite not having been in cool gangs my entire life, or lead a cool existence, what I have done is worked very hard and had a great time along the way. And right now I have a two amazing kids, a wonderful husband, a fantastic group of mates and a modern career that I love…and so I’m happier than I ever have been.
So I’m redefining the meaning of the word ‘cool’ — in my own head — to that of someone who is happy in their own skin, confident, aware of their own mind and extremely content with their life.
I am therefore one very, very cool woman indeed.
Written by Editor, Jess Soothill