Recently, I was accused by a (once) close friend of ‘trying to be cool’. He said that I had woken up one morning and decided I wanted to be a hippy (in order to be cool) and that’s where all this environmental stuff comes from – a desire to be seen as cool.
At first, I defended myself vehemently (read: we got into a blazing row) with the usual non-conformist arguments; I don’t do things because other people will find them cool; I think for myself etc, AND THEN, I realised that he was right. (Okay, I realised about five hours, a train ride and one in-depth chat with trusted person later).
During the past few years, I have met more cool people than I care to count. I’ve been surrounded by folk who care about others, people who think deeply about their actions and the consequences, some who care about the environment. Their way of life, and their style, has affected me deeply. I had a vegetarian boyfriend. I went vegetarian. Around the time I went vegan, I met three others from all across the country who encouraged me, shared recipes and food with me and discussed politics. All these people are incredibly cool. My housemate in third year would get changed throughout the day, adding or removing layers for function or aesthetics. She inspired me to mix it up with my clothing and not be afraid to dress like a bag lady. Reading Gala Darling practically changed my life as I took more responsibility for my life, due to her influence. Gala Darling and my housemate? Coolest. Ever.
I would love to be like my old housemate – totally comfortable in her own skin and her interests, doing whatever she wanted without guilt. I was really impressed, and influenced, when my ex talked about vegetarianism and politics. I wanted to know more about the world so I could sound, well, knowledgeable.
I made conscious efforts to emulate these people who I find cool. I learnt more about the world (and went vegan when I discovered all the environmental shit that goes down through agribusiness) so I could discuss politics and such with my ex. I started layering my clothing more, mixing up different colours and patterns and experimenting with wearing skirts ( I used to only ever wear jeans and a t-shirt, standard.) and now I’m not afraid to wear a flouncy dress and wings to Wagamama’s (something Emma would never have done, coz she’s not into wings). I began to get over my past and take responsibility for my actions, rather than blaming my upbringing for my depressive nature thanks to Gala Darling’s life aesthetic.
Does that mean I woke up one morning and decided that I wanted to be cool? I’m not sure. Did I allow a whole bunch of amazing people to influence me, taking on their inspiration and sifting through what I wanted to do, learn about and dress like? Is that the same as ‘trying to be cool’?
With each of these aspects (veganism, fashion, conscious living) I feel as though I have moved beyond the original influences and have made them a part of who I am now…but that’s the question, I suppose. How do we define who we are, if we’re not ‘allowed’ to be influenced by people we think are ‘cool?’