What does it mean to be cool? We spend our entire lives searching for the meaning of the blasted word, and striving to be labelled with it ourselves. You see it everywhere: toddlers in the playground refusing to play with one another because their doll isn’t wearing the latest accessory, teenagers grouping off into Mean-Girls-style cliques with cries of “SHE DOESN’T EVEN GO HERE!”, and even people in the business world sectioning off the office geek for dribbling coffee down their blouse.
After leaving high school I celebrated the inevitability of a level playing field at university – surely the pettiness of hormone-fuelled fifteen year olds couldn’t translate to the intelligent, mature students of St. Andrews? And though I have found that there is still an archetypal consideration of ‘cool’ in this insular little circle of Fife, I do think that we are ignoring the blaringly obvious fact that, to the majority of people here, being uncool is actually pretty cool.
Okay, it’s true: the beautiful, wealthy, model types do exist, and they float around our streets like untouchable wisps of glorious smoke being puffed into our inferior faces. And of course there is the omnipotent beacon of cool that is the Student’s Association, whose positions are filled with painfully ambitious and gifted humans that we all fan girl over regularly. I’ve met/accidentally stumbled upon a number of these people, and found myself feeling distinctly subpar in comparison. And yet – Heaven behold! – most of them were just nice and normal. Yes, normal.
So why are we all so hung up on the word cool? A lot of people we think are awesome are actually secretly clumsy/awkward/nerdy, but that is exactly what is so refreshing about them. The newest St Andrews craze of Yik Yak certainly confirms the fact that most of us are totally useless, and yet we only seem to engage with this anonymously on social media. A friend tipsily told me that she thought I was “sooooo cool” this semester, and I actually snorted red wine out of my nose (proving the exact opposite of what she was suggesting). This led me to wonder whether we spend so much time worrying about the definition of being cool, that we don’t realise that our quirkiness is actually what brings about hilariously fabulous friendships in the Bubble.
And so St Andreans, I say embrace your inner dorkiness, because most of us are in the same boat and it’s not all that bad. In fact, it’s pretty cool.