I don’t know how to define “cool.” It’s not synonymous with “popular,” at least not in the sense of Heathers or Mean Girls.
There can be overlap. Cool, I think, has more to do with kindness and intelligence and talent, but most important, humility. The coolest people I know are also some of the most grounded, down-to-earth. There’s a tacit understanding of cool. If you have it, everyone knows. It’s generally agreed upon that there are a handful of exceptionally cool people in every setting. Think about it–you can name them.
I’m lucky enough to have a whole bunch of really cool people in my life. I can’t believe I know some of the people I know sometimes. My peers are future Oscar, Grammy, Tony, Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winners. I want to grow up to be like some of the adults I have the honor to watch live life. Both sets of people, and others, radiate coolness and I’m incredibly thankful I know them. This is an open letter to those people.
Dear Cool People,
I’m fascinated by you. The way you attract everyone within ten miles to your magnetic personality. The way you share your talent and take compliments well. You’re self-aware and know when to step down and take a break. You’re never afraid to do anything, or if you are, you don’t let it stop you. You do everything you set out to do well, but on the rare occasion you fail, you do so with grace and a confidence that proves you know yourself better than a mistake.
You’re optimistic and enthusiastic, and your joy for life is contagious. When trouble arrives, you’re real and raw and vulnerable, but you never let it get to you. Through it all, you’re kind and gentle and warm and people want to be around you. You laugh warmly and loudly and your smile could power the world.
You’re funny and witty and are good at using Instagram. You can wink or raise an eyebrow across a room with more poise and respect than anyone else. You look just as good dressed to the nines as you do in a t-shirt and shorts. You truly support those you love, without jealousy. You give good hugs. You sit and listen while people talk, careful not to give advice because you know we just need to talk it through. You’re responsible and punctual and always follow through. You move gracefully, confident but never arrogant. You are gracious and kind. You give grace to people. We’re still figuring things out.
You make time for those around you, especially those in your inner circle, and ask important questions. You hang out with other cool people and post artsy group photos that make everyone proud to know you. You read people instantly. You are genuinely friends with most everyone. You care about them. You know how to work with them too–what people need and when. You are quickly encouraging and empathetic and if need be, just there. You’re the first person we want to call when we are hurt, lost, or confused. You get it. You’ve been there. It’s a priority of yours to serve and love well.
If you’re a Christian, and I’ve seen you in your faith at all, I’ve most often seen a life that strives to honor God in everything. You put him first. You pray, and pray for others. You’re wise and insightful and mature enough to struggle while looking forward. Christ is such a rock in your life. That anchorage provides a totally visible stability and peace. When living sacrifice and testimony come up, I think of you. You give 110% of yourself to serving the Lord and Jesus shines so clearly through you.
If you’re not, you are respectful and answer my questions thoughtfully and never meanly, and ask me deep questions. Talking to you is a mutually beneficial learning experience; you can’t know how grateful I am.
Cool Person, I’m in awe of you. I may have told you this to your face, but I doubt it because of things I know about myself. Things like my tendency to celebritize people around me. Or that I’m starstruck by you. That, unfortunately, jealously and/or feeling unworthy of you often stop me from engaging. Or that I’m just plain old shy. There are probably some of you reading this that are on my Cool list but don’t know it because I rarely speak to you. Trust me, you’re cool.
So Cool Person, here are some things I want to say to you:
Thank you. Thank you for being my friend, if we are friends. Thanks for tolerating my awkwardness and clumsiness and total lack of cool and continuing to reach out to me, love me and pour into me. I don’t deserve it, but I’m beyond thankful for it.
You inspire me. Constantly. In all manners of ways. Your humor, your smile, your witty captions and posts and comments. Your kindness and joy. The way you treat people. The ways you step up and out and act and do hard things. How you honestly pursue growth and change and are curious. The vulnerability with which you seek the Lord. Those of you who are older than me, I love watching you be adults and learning what it looks like to be a good college student, worker, wife, parent, teacher, friend, taxpayer, whatever. You’ve taught me how to carry myself. How to command respect. How to lead well. I’m excited to grow up to become a person and meet people like you.
You guys, re-read the last few paragraphs. That is you. I try my best to surround myself with people better than myself to push me. To make myself grow. People like you make me want to work harder to be better because, because of you, I know better exists.
I’m the shy, quiet, awkward, averagely okay at everything, fumbling mess of a kid you lives on the fringes of your radar. I’m identified by my proximity to your kind. I blip every once in a while when there’s drama. I don’t really attract people. I don’t have the it factor. I’m not funny. I don’t have a cool thing I do, and even if I did, I don’t have the talent or desire to do the things you do. I write this in admiration. I often say your name with a kind of reverence, and show people your Facebook profile or Instagram and say things like, “I’m not even cool enough to know them. Look at my friend. Aren’t they so cool?! THEY’RE SO COOL!!!!!” (I kid you not. This really has happened).
Hey, I know we’re probably not close enough for it to qualify, but I’m proud of you for being awesome.
Cool Person, I hope you know how loved you are.
Cool Person, you do life so well and I’m privileged to be a part of yours.
Thanks for waving at me when you see me.