Relationships

Five Words That Changed Everything

Five Words That Changed Everything

The world is filled with quotes. So many quotes. You can’t open Instagram without being assaulted by them. (I’m even guilty of posting them!) But recently, I heard a quote that straight-up changed my life…

My no-longer-secret favorite pastime is to stay home and watch old episodes of Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday. If you aren’t acquainted, this is a show in which Oprah interviews various experts on topics like spirituality and personal growth, frequently stopping to call out the “ah-ha moments” and yelling things like “THAT’S SO MAJOR.”

I like to employ this activity after particularly harrowing dates — like the time I returned from the bathroom to find my date swiping around on Tinder. After watching the show, I’ll come away feeling as if I’ve had an uplifting, motivational or otherwise educational exchange with a human being, almost like an emotional chaser. But one episode, with none other than the brilliant Brené Brown, actually changed my approach to dating.

Oprah and Brené were discussing authenticity — what it is, how to cultivate it, why it’s important — when Brené casually busted out this line:

“Cool is an emotional straightjacket.”

Clouds parted. Angels sang.

You know how sometimes you can hear the same advice presented 3,000 ways, then suddenly someone uses a certain phrasing and your whole world opens up? This was one of those moments.

Many are the times people have said things like, “Just be yourself!” or “Post what makes you happy!” or “Wear whatever makes you feel good!” Still, I would always pause before saying the thing or sharing the photo or tying the shoe, and wonder: How will it look? or What will people think? Followed closely by the question that has lurked somewhere in the back of my brain ever since the other second graders made fun of my pilgrim-like clothing: Is it cool?

The need to be cool “keeps us from moving, growing, stretching and feeling free,” Brené said, her statement necklace sparkling under the studio lighting. She went on to explain how “cool” and “authentic” are often mutually exclusive. If we’re worried about what someone else will think or whether our actions fall into some amorphous definition of what’s “cool,” we’re not sharing our most authentic selves. Without authenticity, it’s hard to truly connect with others. Without connection, our lives lack purpose and meaning.

I do not want to live inside a straightjacket, emotional or otherwise. But when I heard these words, I realized how often I had been. I was suddenly, acutely aware of how much I’d been second guessing and doubting, or else trying to say or wear or do the “right thing,” cramming myself into pretzel-like shapes to seem likable. Never was this more true than when it came to potential suitors.

So now, I am doing my best to live outside the proverbial jacket. Sometimes, this means I wear my beat-up Converse sneakers on dates. (Somewhere in New Jersey, my mom just shuddered.) Sometimes, this means I post something quirky or overly honest on Instagram. Always, this means I answer questions — from “What are you looking for in a relationship?” to “Do you want kids?” to “What is your favorite emoji?” — in the most true-to-me way possible, because I want any potential partner to know exactly who they’re dealing with (a person whose favorite emoji is the roasted bisected sweet potato), and vice versa.

“It takes courage to be awkward, goofy and silly,” says Brown. That, it turns out, is the path to connection.

I was reminded of this one night, as I was scrolling through my Instagram feed. While dodging quotes left and right, I came across another thing that changed my life:

on

THAT’S SO MAJOR, I thought.

After all, the opposite of cool… is warm. Doesn’t that sound nice?

P.S. Funny life advice from smart humans and 15 women share career tips.

  1. I just read this at work and straight up went from laughing out loud to crying (in quiet) in a matter of seconds. Your words mean so, so much. Thank you.

  2. corina says...

    I am late to this party, but while I thought I was navigating a new beginning (relationship wise) it appears it has ended long before it had begun.
    After 3 weeks of exchanging texts, we met (for the 2nd time) impromptu on a Saturday night when I was already out with some friends but decided to leave them for this so called date. It was a max 2h meet that actually left me feeling nothing. But this is not the point. The point is that the second day, when I told my sister who knew I had a major crush on him, that I met him just the other night, her first question was: and how were you dressed? were you wearing makeup? Like Oh dear Lord, God forbid he saw me just being myself, wearing jeans, t-shirt and sandals. I am tired from wearing everyday heels and suits and bodycon dresses and looking put together. Why isn’t it allowed to just be who you are?! I want him to see me for who I am, no walls, no put together scenarios, nu well thought conversation topics in advance. She was mortified to hear that I was not “my best self” while meeting him :)) Long story short, he disappeared the very next day. So maybe he didn’t like my jeans and t-shirt presentation, but that is ok. Maybe I don’t need him. Maybe I don’t need to be in a relationship that starts according to the rules I never signed up for anyway. Or maybe, just maybe (and that is not the end of the world), he’s just not that into me.

  3. Great post! I love Brenee Brown. Her book “Imperfection” took me on a journey to my authenticity. It is truly liberating not to have to try and be cool. I have to tell you that it is continuous work. Each day I blog I have to remember that I have my own way of expressing myself, it is very honest and might not always be what people want to here but it is genuine. Thank you for the reminder.

  4. Ahiga Audrey says...

    My husband left me for another girl. I felt really bad but was hoping he would come back to me. one day, I saw a post about how a lady met her husband and I decided to try this prophet who helped her because my relationship was failing. Although I never believed in spiritual work. I tried reluctantly because I was desperate, but to my greatest surprise, this prophet helped me and my relationship is perfect now as he told me that my husband now treats me like a queen, even when he had said before that he never loves me anymore. Well, if you are going through difficulties in your relationship here is the email______ dr_mack @yahoo. com,

  5. Kate says...

    This is a great post, resonating well with me. As I’ve grown up (I’m 40 next year!) i’ve Become much less worried what other people think. Especially after having kids I just haven’t got time to think about it! Just BE YOURSELF, life is too short and everyone else is also worrying what WE think! So who cares?!

  6. Kelly says...

    Thank you for this. I used to work for a publication where “cool” was one of the only banned words. The reason: it doesn’t actually mean anything. It’s a lazy descriptor. Be something besides cool! Mean SOMETHING.

  7. Lindsay says...

    This post is so timely – I just had the great privilege of seeing Brene speak live at a conference for work. She talked about this very thing, and I literally felt like her words were speaking to my soul. We only have so many years on this beautiful planet, and I want to spend them being me (and not the version of me that I think everyone else wants).

  8. Loribeth says...

    For me, the toughest thing about being authentic is sharing with people you love when things about you change. I’m a completely different person than I was 2, 5, 10 years ago and some of my favorite people aren’t comfortable with who I am now. It’s sometimes easier to just be who they think I am than to be open and risk criticism. I love the idea of being warm instead of cool, because even if I don’t have the same values that I used to, I can still be loving and inclusive to people I come in contact with. Thanks for sharing, Caroline <3

  9. Audra says...

    What a great thought! I feel like the moments that I try so hard to be “cool” end up being when I come off strangest (and not in a good way). Then I think to times when I’m really truly and honestly myself, and a friend or significant other says “you’re so weird!” with a big smile on their face. It’s always the biggest and warmest compliment because it makes it clear they like me for me.

  10. Nancy says...

    I was just telling my husband about how I was so intimidated by a new acquaintance because she is so/too cool. I never know what to say to confident, cool people that would make me cool too. I can’t be myself at all. This post is so relevant to me and will make me think so differently! I love the self I am with my closest friends and family. I want to be that self all the time and not give a crap about being cool! I also have my 20 yr high school reunion coming up and was trying to decide whether or not to go. I had recently seen a photo of some old classmates and it gave me those icky feelings of I wasn’t cool enough. Enough with that bull crap! I’m not going to waste my time there!
    And yes! So glad Caroline is back!!!!! Love everything she writes about and hope she’s here for awhile!

  11. Dana says...

    I was literally just thinking the other day about how everyone is striving to be cool but also unique and how those don’t actually work together!

  12. Alex says...

    Am a MAJOR fan of SuperSoul Sunday, and of you, Caroline! Hope you are back for the long haul. We need your words, wisdom, and honesty in our lives.

  13. Lee says...

    Own YOU. Own it like you mean it… and you will.

  14. stu pennebaker says...

    speaking of quotes that change how we think about things, “the opposite of cool is…warm” just reality high fived me in the face. thank you, caroline!

  15. Steph says...

    Speaking of “cool”, I laugh every time I hear the word. Sometimes out loud. Sometimes in my mind. But always based off of one experience. So I have two brothers. One is always bragging about himself and my other brother and I are kind of tired and over it. So one day the bragger was going on about how he dated Winona Ryder (yeah right) back in the day and the exasperated brother said in response “what do you want from me? Here’s 1000 cool points”. It just drove home the fact that to be cool means nothing ultimately. What do you get? Imaginary points at best. Haha

  16. Love this post. I’ve had this experience (hearing a thing a million times and suddenly having it click). And this is now one of those times. I’ve long known I’m not cool. I’m too easily starstruck, too earnest, too emotional, and definitely an oversharer. But I don’t think I truly came to terms with my “uncool” until this post. The last thing I need is an emotional straightjacket. Amen, sistah.

  17. Alison says...

    We have taught our kids to respond to “You’re so weird” with “Thank you so much”. Weird is great! Cool is boring!

  18. Paulina says...

    What an amazing post! I’ve just been pondering this idea as well in life when I’ve desperately tried to define my style for years until I realized that my style is simply what I like! I love how you talk about this idea of thinking “is this cool?”
    Thank you so much for writing about this!

  19. Caroline is so talented. Love reading her words!

  20. Maria says...

    I am so late to this party but just had to chime in. What a great post! And pertinent to so much more than romantic relationships. Thanks, Caroline!

  21. lydia says...

    ah this is so so so good! i’m crying on my lunch break! “the opposite of cool is warm” *tears* i’m almost 42 and i still hear the mean girls voices in my head. ENOUGH i say! and that video of oprah is everything. and and lol i LOVE brene brown. God bless her voice and wisdom!!!

  22. catherine says...

    Fantastic post Caroline! Thanks so much for sharing this. Made my day.

  23. if you perform in front people you can’t care about cool. You gotta be willing to make a fool of yourself. Take a bow…

  24. Anne says...

    Love it! At the end, dating cool guys leads to lukewarm relationships where everyone has to keep on their masks – been there, done that, and that’s a funny reminder https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpJn7y8kT-w
    And funny thing at the moment: I went to a tantra seminar for a week, way more girls than guys, and most of them beautiful skinny funny young women in their 20s. I just thought, ok, I’m out, no one will notice me here and was as introerted, quiet, silly, sad, giggly as I wanted to be, no makeup, no style and no shame for my belly fat. At the end there were two guys who told me they had fallen in love with me.
    Unforunately, onesided, I don’t feel cool enough for the tantra community (haha. Or to put it otherwise, it’s not my cup of tea.). But that really changed something in me – I can be myself, not looking, not being pretty, charming, cool, playful, distant or whatever way I’ve tried to attract guys. And there will be someone who will find me attractive, amazing, who wants to get to know me. And somehow suddenly it feels like something has changed, I’m meeting guys everywhere – when I go dancing, at a friend’s party, at the supermarket. So far not “the one” – but encounters a lot more beautiful than those excrutiating tinder dates. Stop online dating, there is so much more fun stuff to do. And everyone here would probably want to dae you Caroline, (except for the gender, sorry still not heteroflexible enough), so :)

  25. Casey says...

    The same could be said when one is trying to find new friends in an area where one has recently moved (or in my case, in an area where all my friends are Army spouses who have moved). Do I want to be cool, or do I want to be REAL? I’ll never be cool (as evidenced by my childhood lol) – I choose real. Thanks for the reminder that this is so, SO much better.

  26. Lisa says...

    Can we keep Caroline?

  27. Jennifer Zutter says...

    This is one of my favorite blog posts OF ALL TIME! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and writing about them.
    Your honest, thoughtful writing is superb and the last line about warm being the opposite of cool just got to me!
    Well done!

  28. Rue says...

    One thing I have trouble with when it comes to dating is this “how will I know?” nagging question. How will I know when to say yes to another date, and when to let go?

    I’ve struggled with feeling like a jerk for ruling people out based on food and music tastes, but I’m coming around to the idea that those are deeply important to me, because they represent my core creature comforts — the stuff my warmest, most authentic self turns to for daily sustenance.

    I’ve recently been on a few dates with two guys who both seem nice and kind. But one guy keeps picking restaurants I dislike, and even passed on a suggestion I made, in favor of the hip rooftop bar I’ve quietly but resolutely avoided going to for the two years I’ve lived in this city. Sure, I can play it cool and spend an evening there. But my truest self doesn’t exactly want to be hanging out there on the regular. Or, ever again, even? By contrast, I took the other guy to my favorite spot in town, a neighborhood place with lots of relaxed happy food vibes, and he declared it his personal Disneyland, and threatened to move in to the cafe. I think this dude’s uncool self and my uncool self will really enjoy spending time together. Whereas the first guy, it seems like our uncool selves might never have actually met, if it weren’t for our meddling dating profiles.

    • Sarah says...

      Before I got married I was a total date-a-holic. I had more terrible relationships than I care to admit. The truth is that when you find the right person, it’s an unmistakable feeling. I wasn’t head over heels in love right away. I was terrified. The butterflies were beyond pre-date jitters. I knew I had no control over loving this person, warts and all. Two and a half years later, we’re married with a baby. In a few more months, I’ll move from Toronto to Texas. He’s my best friend and we’re better together. Looking back I wish I’d just focused on being happy and fulfilled. I wouldn’t have saved myself so much angst.

    • Meg says...

      In my early twenties, I had clear ideas of qualities my life partner had to have – things that were deep and important to me, like a professional ambition that was entwined with a sense of mission for improving the world. I couldn’t imagine going through life with a man who didn’t share these qualities, until I found and fell in love with him. In the twenty-five years of a truly happy relationship/marriage since then, I’ve learned that I didn’t need to find someone with the qualities I have – because those qualities are already a huge part of my life. I needed him to be someone else, to help my world expand.

  29. Julia says...

    If we’re freeing ourselves from trying to be cool and worrying about what impression we make -that’s when we actually become cool!

    • Leah says...

      Exactly!

  30. I love this. That is all.

  31. Kat says...

    What a beautiful and reassuring post!! Thank you.

  32. Rachel says...

    Joanna, if we promise to buy more sponsored stuff, can we keep Caroline? (Pleeeeeeease.)

    • kaye says...

      hahahahahahahaha, rachel–you win the day.

    • B says...

      Bahahaha Rachel! I agree!

    • Karine says...

      Yeah! Realised how much I missed her writing!

  33. Dinah says...

    I had a similar moment when I saw a quote on my neighbor Kate’s Instagram post. She had been to a very intimate house concert I’d missed by Edna Vazquez during which Vazquez wore no shoes and said,
    “It’s ok to be awkward.”
    Kate is an incredible yoga instructor who is as tall and lovely as she is brilliant and Edna Vazquez seems like a badass, and I think a large part of their power and allure lies in the fact that they are not bound by convention or even un-convention, but are willing to take off their shoes in front of a bunch of people and just do their thing honestly. They don’t seem awkward because by accepting their awkwardness, by not getting hung up on it, they find their flow.
    https://www.instagram.com/p/BbscVDvAa7f/?taken-by=kateswarm

  34. Wow, I love this! Sometimes my husband calls me a dork (in an affectionate way) and I always feel really good about it as I know I am being my authentic “un-cool” self. And is there really anything better than that?

  35. Ellie says...

    ‘I like to employ this activity after particularly harrowing dates — like the time I returned from the bathroom to find my date swiping around on Tinder. ‘ What a particular-kind of hat this date must have been. I hope you treated yourself to something nice after this! Also, so good that you caught him on Tinder, because what if you hadn’t… The horror!

  36. Keri says...

    All the best people are a little bit weird ;)

  37. Jennifer says...

    Love this a lot. As I get older I can feel myself getting comfortable being more authentic more often, but I still struggle sometimes.

    And since everyone’s sharing their favorite quotes about the subject, I LOVE the song “Wanna Be Cool” by Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment (which includes Chance the Rapper). So many good lines (e.g., “If a cool guy’s cool in the middle of a forest, man nobody f-ing cares”) and it’s a great song to rock out to :)

    Side note: I generally have no problem with adults cursing, but it somehow felt wrong to quote a curse word in the comments in CoJ, ha!

    • Jillian says...

      Jennifer, I LOVE this song!!! Just hopped over to Spotify to listen– have loved Donnie Trumpet & Social Experiment since the first time I heard Sunday Candy (for anyone who happens to be reading this, go listen to it right now! Impossible not to smile during it, I think!) but have never heard this one before- thank you for the amazing share!!!

      I’m also laughing because I thought the *exact* same thing about cursing in COJ comments – I posted a favorite quote below and for perhaps the first time ever thought about using ***! It’s just too much of an oasis here in the comments to mar.

  38. Carol says...

    Love it….wonderful post!

  39. Julianna Farrell says...

    You changed my life when you said, ‘jogging is just skip walking’ or something like that. I’d always tried to be a ‘runner’ and boy I sucked at it. After reading aforementioned post/quote (??) I went out for a ‘jog’ that day and never looked back. —you can go as fast or as slow as you want, and if you want to walk that’s ok too—literally changed my life blah blah benefits of running etc. Thank you!

  40. gfy says...

    btw, that lead photo is incredible! Would love to find a print of that.

  41. deena says...

    Thought of this article (again) today in my yoga class when the teacher said “Are you on your side?” and she didn’t mean body position in space. What a nice gentle reminder that you can and should be your own biggest fan.

  42. Lydia says...

    I’m always having the “cool” struggle in my head. I’m not drawn to (outwardly) super-cool-perfect-everything-looks-home-etc people. But I continue to aim for that for myself?

    Beautiful wisdom and reminder. One I’ll need again and again :)

    Beautiful wisdom that I will need reminding of over and over. Really need to read some Brene Brown books!

  43. SBE says...

    I also feel this way about “pretty”

    “Pretty is an emotional straight jacket.”

    • Jennifer in KS says...

      AMEN to that!

  44. Anna Jaye says...

    Yes! Thank you so much for sharing this!

    I loved Brené Brown’s book “The Gift of Imperfection” so much. It was such a helpful read for me.

    I will hold onto these words!

  45. Lady T says...

    Pretending is a trap. If you fake your persona people might like you, but then you’re trapped pretending. If they didn’t like your faux persona who’s to say whether they might have liked the real you? What a wasted opportunity!

    In the end, I think that if you are comfortable in your own company you are less worried about “fitting in” and ironically, that confidence tends to seem ‘cool’.

  46. oprah is my guru.

  47. Emily says...

    i love this post so so so much.

    one of the things i love most about my partner is he’s never, ever made me feel like i needed to ‘cool’ to be loved and accepted. i guess all anybody really needs is to be loved and accepted as their authentic self. :)

    warm >>>> cool

    :)))))

  48. Lucy says...

    Yes to this! I often come back to Maya Angelou’s classic quote when meeting someone new: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Coming across as “cool” is at odds with this idea for me. I’m always more into new friends who are interested in the people they’re with and can hold a balanced conversation instead of trying to communicate how cool they are with every interaction.

  49. A Martin says...

    When I was single, my best friend told me about an article with dating advice. The author recommended asking these 3 questions on a date. It basically cuts right through into the realness right from th start. Initially, it takes some courage to ask but if you aren’t worried about being cool, it is a wonderful way to connect.

    1. Would you date yourself? (Hint, if they laugh and say “hell no!”….move on…quickly)
    2. What are you most proud of?
    3. What is the best compliment anyone has given you?

  50. Allison says...

    The opposite of cool is warm. Omg. Caroline, YOU are my Oprah. Don’t ever leave again!

  51. Katherine says...

    Amen, sister, Brene Brown and Oprah and Glennon Doyle are my church and now Caroline is too.

    When I met my now-husband, I was dressed up in a new dress, hair cut and blown out, and make up because my girlfriends had taking me out after I broke up with my boyfriend of nearly five years OVER THE PHONE because the coward couldn’t even come face me in person. I was trying to make myself feel better by dressing to the nines and I know I looked good, but I still felt broken, sad, and confused inside. Anyway, when I met Sam and he asked for my number, I was like sure but listen: all of this? (points to self all dressed up) isn’t me, and PS: I’m a hot mess because I’m three weeks out from a bad, but ultimately good, breakup. He said he didn’t care and stuck around with me and my friends all night. He called in the morning and took me to breakfast and I wore my “me” clothes and face: beat up converse, pull over hoodie, only mascara. Aaaaaaaand it was the best first date ever and now we’re married.

    Here’s to not pretending and being our true selves. Love this post, Caroline, and this community of warm ladies so damn much.

  52. bisbee says...

    Wonderful.

  53. Jessica says...

    readers have said this many times before but I am compelled to chime in. Caroline, I love your posts and your writing. You have such a gift.

  54. Michelle says...

    Oh my goodness. This came at the perfect time. I’m in my late 30’s and have spent my whole life worried about what people thought of me. Well I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and this past Saturday I had to shave my head. (My one-year-old became obsessed with pulling it out in clumps). I cried and cried and was sooo anxious about it for weeks after learning I would lose my hair. But then my sister shaved it and afterwards I had the hugest sense of relief. It was liberating and dare I say I felt free?! The words I kept repeating in my head were: “Omg this is me! This is me!!!” I couldn’t believe how much I literally hid behind my hair my whole life. And being bald I have never felt more vulnerable but i have to say it’s symbolic. It’s a physical transformation of me becoming more authentic, deep and more in tune with the shit that really matters.

    • A Martin says...

      Ah this took my breath away, so beautiful!! Sending you love!!

    • Rachel Cobb says...

      You are amazing. Thanks for sharing this – this really struck me in a deep way. Sending you love.

  55. Emmie says...

    A million yeses! I also harbor a secret love of Oprah-anything reruns. On a side note, isn’t it SO infuriating when people trivialize or mock Oprah? She is 100% self-made, a sexual assault survivor, Tony-award winner, and one of the richest women in the world. Who else has that list of accomplishments??

    • Kylie says...

      Amen!!

    • Yesss!!

  56. I love this. Definitely has given me something to think about. How often am I forsaking my authenticity for “coolness”? (Probably more often than I’d like to admit.)

    But my favorite part? Your last sentence: “After all, the opposite of cool… is warm. Doesn’t that sound nice?”

  57. Rebecca Smith says...

    Yes! This reminded me of a college breakup — I’d been working so hard to be the girl this guy wanted, and it felt like nothing I did ever measured up. He finally broke up with me by telling me that I “was too happy, too nice, and had too many friends.” WHAT?! I realized that his criticisms were some of the things I’m proudest of and like most about myself. How ridiculous to try to change THAT to be with some boy! My dating advice since then has been to display your true self 150% — you don’t win them all that way, but you win the right one.

  58. Laura C. says...

    Thank you, this is awesome. This is very nice. I’m a bit lost in life right now and more often than not I can’t find myself, and ‘Im trying very hard. It seems ironic to me that, fifteen years ago I was in an on-and-off relationship with a guy that I really liked, and for two years I basically had to conquer him every single day. I remember that, during those years, every time that I purchased something for me (clothes mostly) my first thought while in the fitting rooms was “will he like me with this thing on?” It took me a while to get rid of that habit when I started dating my actual husband. The ironic thing: I feel now that I was much “me” on those clothes than now. Don’t ask me, I’m a weirdo, I know.
    But, you know what? I feel a wind of change. Just a little breeze of change, and it’s warm. ;-)

  59. That’s such a fabulous quote! I think I need to start reading Brene Brown, stat.

  60. Jenn says...

    Caroline, your writing totally gives me that warm, uplifting feeling as well. Thanks for sharing another great piece that’s given me new insight into the world and how I see myself.

  61. Lindsay says...

    Yes, yes, to all of this. Love Brene so much. And this CoJ community!

    • Rae says...

      This community is amazing isn’t it? I’m so moved by Caroline’s post and I’ve now come back here three times to read the new comments.

  62. edie says...

    Caroline + Brene = wise, encouraging bliss. loved this.

  63. Victoria says...

    Yess, thank you for this post!! It’s been a much-needed reminder for me that vulnerability is key to connecting with others. I often hide my inner struggles from my friends & family, until I’ve got them under control. That way I can spin my suffering into more lighthearted anecdotes that don’t really reflect how much I was hurting. I want to share my struggles with my loved ones, but like… in a “cool” way.
    I’m only just realizing how ridiculous that sounds, but I’ve been doing it forever. It’s really hard to unlearn this tendency to always appear like I’m breezing through life, but really all it does is make me feel alone and make my loved ones feel closed out.

    • Kristy says...

      this was beautifully put and I totally feel the same way.

    • Mary says...

      I LOVE this, Victoria, especially: “I often hide my inner struggles from my friends & family, until I’ve got them under control. That way I can spin my suffering into more lighthearted anecdotes that don’t really reflect how much I was hurting. I want to share my struggles with my loved ones, but like… in a “cool” way.”

      I am one hundred percent the same way.

  64. I cannot even being to count how many times something Brene said has changed my life. Like your example, even her off handed remarks are full of wisdom and knowledge and humor.

    I can’t remember if this was in her book or in an interview, but Brene told the story of her first meeting with Oprah. During a break from filming Oprah introduced Brene to Maya Angelou, who was backstage.

    Can you imagine those three women in the same room? Talk about clouds parting and angels singing!

  65. Lauren E. says...

    I absolutely love this, and agree that when it comes to personal relationships, YOU DO YOU.

    The hard part I’m finding is doing what I love and what feels right but at the same time, trying to fit into a creative industry that ultimate decides whether I’m successful or not. Sometimes it feels like one has to be “cool” in order to be accepted into certain artistic communities – and that can be confusing when trying to be your most authentic self.

  66. dccat says...

    I can’t even express how timely this post is.

  67. So, basically: be like Brene Brown and Oprah. I dig.

  68. I’m way too old to care what other people think or to be concerned with being cool.

  69. Saz says...

    I’ve also embraced “not being cool”, and it’s one of the best things I ever did! Only a few weeks ago – prime example – dear friends of mine decided to hold a barn dance to celebrate 10 years of marriage. I knew, just KNEW, that everyone else would be in heels and “going out clothes”. And anyone who knows me, knows I’m like Bambi in heels.
    So I just decided to embrace “not cool” and went in my seen-better-days Converse, some comfy trousers and a loose shirt. And when all the other women were ripping their heels off and having to go barefoot on a rather unsavoury floor, I was throwing my moves in utter comfort. It was The Best.
    And you know? Not one single person even cared that I wasn’t dressed up. The hosts gave me hugs and were pleased to see me, and anyone else’s opinion (which no one expressed to me anyway!) matters not-a-jot.

  70. Sarah says...

    Thank you Caroline!

  71. Kenyetta Clark says...

    This article struck a chord in my introverted, awkward soul…Loved it?

  72. This couldn’t be more timely. Thank you, I needed this, so many of us needed this.

  73. Jillian says...

    Oh, Caroline — I loved this so. Thank you for sharing and writing.

    Two thoughts:
    1) My mom is, without a doubt, the coolest person I know, for many reasons, but most of all because she makes people feel full, and at home, and alive, and loved, and deeply known and heard and understood, and as though she is SO! EXCITED! to be with them, exactly how they are. One thing she has always made me feel/realize is a) “there’s nothing less cool than a person who is trying/acting/living in a way, even a bit, to be cool” and b) “nobody who is cool, really deep down cool, ever makes anyone ever feel bad about something that they like, and they never give a single thought to whether or not people will like the things that they like.” I imagine so much time spent on people (myself included) obsessing over liking ‘cool’ music and fashion and movies and things, and then realize that feeling dumb or bad about yourself for liking something that “isn’t cool” renders the person who made you feel that way automatically uncool!!!
    2) I love this post for many reasons, but it also called to mind this quote from a book I love dearly, Love Warrior.

    [in reference to her college boyfriend’s current wife] “She’ll say that one night they were in an argument and he became distant. She’d said, “what are you thinking about?” And he’s replied, “Glennon. She just didn’t give a f***.” His wife understood this to be the ultimate compliment for him to bestow upon a woman. She also understood that it was no compliment. Any woman who “doesn’t give a f***” is simply abandoning her soul to adhere to the rules. No woman on earth doesn’t give a f***–no woman is that cool–she’s just hidden her fire. Likely, it’s burning her up.”

    • Your mom sounds so wonderful and wise! I love people like that and hope to be more that way myself.
      I remember a realization as a teenager, how a friend that I thought was really cool would respond to a movie or band you liked, with ‘they’re ok,’ or the like. For one, we’re usually not a great judge of the actual talent involved, and it’s completely invalidating to someone else’s perfectly good taste. It was a picture of how she behaved the rest of the time, and though I hung on for too long, it felt like an important insight at the time to realize that kind of response was for her own sake of being cool and I didn’t have to condone it.

    • Ellen says...

      Jillian, your description of your mother really resonates with me. I am going to hold tight to these words, as I would be so blessed to have my little girls describe me in this way some day. Thank you for inspiring me!

  74. Sasha says...

    One of the things that’s happened as I’ve gotten older is I’ve just let things like *cool* go, which has been very emotionally freeing since I never seemed to ever get it right anyway. (Am I a weirdo? Where do I get all of these strange ideas?) I think sometimes cool is a stand in for socially acceptable, and the world becomes a lot more open when you let that go too. It’s fun to see that others are letting it go. Here’s to being and accepting ourselves, with all the whackadoodle quirks.

    Love this post, love COJ. I can’t think of a more accepting place.

  75. AJ says...

    Love this!

  76. Emily says...

    Brene Brown is brilliant and has changed my life. Have you watched her TedTalk on Vulnerability? If not, do it!

    • Molly K says...

      Better yet, read her book :) “Daring Greatly” is the one I’ve read so far, but I want to try her other books too. A lot of you ladies and men probably don’t need the wisdom contained therein like I needed it when I read it, but it changed so much for me. It helped me to stop shaming others (out loud or in my head). It helped me to have meaningful interactions with people despite a fear of messing up. And more. I kept notes and journal entries about what I read. Reading “Daring Greatly” was seriously life-changing for me. But then I grew up around a lot of shame and a lot of trying not to be made fun of for everything you do, or say, or are.

  77. Amy says...

    Had a very very similar epiphany 2.5 years ago when listening to Brene Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability! And what do you know, about a month later I fell in love with someone who was just as good as being vulnerable as I was trying to be.

  78. Audra says...

    Thank you so much for this post. It could not be more perfect.

  79. Rae says...

    Yes! I had this epiphany as well many years ago it has brought me only increased happiness & love in my life. I was going on a blind-date (this was just before I met my husband, close to 15 years ago). By description this guy was a great match for me: son of an artist (I’m an artist!), grew up in Paris (I love Paris!), MD-Phd candidate (I love smart people!), had lived in DC (me too!) It all seemed just right and normally I would have been quite nervous before the dinner and would have dressed to impress him with a form-fitting clothes, heels, etc.
    But I didn’t. I had just returned from a week of camping and climbing. I had sun on my face and hadn’t worn make-up for days and I liked how I looked. I looked like me – rosy and healthy and down-to-earth in my canvas jacket and jeans.
    When I arrived at the restaurant he was dressed-up, as I knew he would be. He looked handsome, fashionable, and sleek. He was also clearly underwhelmed by me. Instead of regretting my choice I felt like I had dodged a bullet. We had a great, conversation filled dinner and parted ways. If I had dressed for him I suspect I could have kept his interest for awhile but the real me was still in there – waiting to be discovered. It would have been stressful, and ultimately, I would have presented an inauthentic version of myself.

    • Oh my gosh, as someone who has also dodged a not-so-right relationship had I not been my authentic self, I got goosebumps of resonance reading this. I love that you went straight for turning up as yourself (and saved each other the time!). Yes to rosy, makeup-less cheeks and jeans :)

    • Sasha says...

      Yes to outdoor girl!! Yes to being real and being brave enough to show your real! What a great story.

  80. Nina says...

    I don’t mind the quotes. I love quotes. I could read quotes all day. I post quotes on my IG! ;)

    I’ve been studying why we do what we do and it mostly boils down to status/wanting to be accepted/survival (most suggest these are interchangeable but clearly there are varying degrees) and love. I never understood why women kept their hair the way a man wanted until I had a man who cared what my hair was like…and I cared enough to want to please him. But, especially, in dating I think we all want some mystique/coolness. I think we all cease to be cool once the clothes come off. :)

  81. Heather says...

    Has anyone else seen (and cried their eyes out to) episode four of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (Netflix reboot)? I loved the topic of the pressure to dress consistent with your sexuality, and about how coming out isn’t only about letting people know you are gay, but more broadly about the freedom of being your authentic self. The way that you dress or act should be true to you (not the way you think others expect you to dress), just as your sexuality is true to you. Well, Antoni said it better (and cuter).

    Also, I love Brene Brown. Her book, The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting (which I listened to on audible as read by Brene) gave me so much peace of mind as a parent. She advises in that book to avoid using words like “cool” and “lame” around your kids.

    • MK says...

      I’ve cried at almost every single episode! I’m so happy there will be another season.

    • Sasha says...

      Queer Eye is the best show out there right now. I cried every single episode. It’s just so good. And I don’t even like reality TV, at all, ever. My husband rolled his eyes when I told him we should watch (on my 21 yo daughter’s suggestion), and guess what? Loves it! He even wants to nominate a couple of our guy friends for the show. And he cried every single episode, at one point choking up as he said “I’m just so happy for him!”
      I love the central theme of the show: loving yourself, caring for yourself, accepting how awesome you are.

    • Jo says...

      First of all, I love Caroline’s post! So, so true. But second of all, yes, THIS SHOW. Almost every one made me tear up. And Antoni’s smile- be still, my heart! It could maybe bring about world peace if everyone looked at that smile every day. Yay to a second season!

    • Katherine says...

      Omg Queer Eye is everything. Funny story: I realized I was pregnant during the first episode because about 28 minutes in, I was hardcore ugly crying, like sobbing, snot dripping down my face weeping, and then all of a sudden I was like waaaaaaiit a minute, this is a little much, even for me (I’m a very sensitive and emotional person). So I paused the show, took a test, and low and behold, I was (am!) pregnant. It was a few days before I would have missed my period, but I’m so glad it happened this way. Can’t wait to tell my baby their presence in my life was made known by the Fab 5. :)

    • Heather says...

      @Katherine CONGRATS! Your comment made me smile so much.

  82. Kathleen says...

    That last line. Perfection.

  83. Meg says...

    Caroline, your writing is so beautiful. Thank you for these words!

  84. Anu says...

    This post’s timing… Faugh. I have been talking to my therapist about building a persona or mask, basically not showing my authentic self to everyone because they / I can’t handle it, and we were going to talk about it in my session tomorrow. 10 hours from now! Now I know what i’m going to say.

  85. Natalia says...

    The coolest people I’ve met are those who are just being themselves and not really trying to “be cool” or admired. Authenticity always wins in the end :)

  86. Kari says...

    Dang, Caroline, this is SO GOOD. Women of all ages and stages of life need to hear this! I am married, aka no longer worried about being cool on dates, but I realize I am still always concerned with being “cool!” It doesn’t go away! Such good inspiration and encouragement to be free and “warm.” xx

  87. june2 says...

    Oh wow, great to see this point highlighted here!
    I also figured out I wanted to be WARM instead of cool, and that those were the type of people I wanted in my life. It still hurt for years after though, being rejected by the ‘cool’ people, but that pain just reinforced my decision to choose warmth, love and inclusion. Years later I am mostly totally over cool and it’s tricks and now marvel at the ways I’ve seen warmth blossom in ways I never imagined, especially from the children of the 90’s who brought so much love into their school relationships with the uprising against bullying and general inclusiveness of ‘different’, etc….I see it everywhere now!

    • Rae says...

      I agree June2. I have seen a shift in school culture to embracing warmth, silliness, love, difference. Lessons are being learned!

    • Karen says...

      So beautifully said: “…I wanted to be WARM instead of cool, and those were the type of people I wanted in my life…”

      That is the perfect sentiment to raise children with as well – for helping them consider how they want to show up in the world, and what kind of people they may choose to surround themselves with – thank you for articulating this in such a concise yet rich way.

  88. Natalie says...

    “The opposite of cool is…warm” love that SO much! Here’s to more warmth and less…coolth ?

    • june2 says...

      yaaass, ha ha

    • Kenyetta C says...

      Cheers to that!!?

  89. MORE Caroline please!!!

  90. Stephanie says...

    Just the other night, I typed out a very honest paragraph to an Instagram post the other night and i didn’t mean to hit “post”, but when I did, I had so much support and “I feel the same way! You’re not alone” feedback that being honest and real is so refreshing. It’s too hard to be cool.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s amazing, stephanie!

  91. Lala says...

    Ahhh! I was on a date once and went to buy coffee, and when I sat down the guy was continuing to message someone on Tinder… It was INSANE!

    • june2 says...

      Oh god, I hope you promptly ended that date with a laugh.

  92. Victoria says...

    Just what I needed to hear today. Oprah would be proud!

  93. Kristina says...

    I love that last line! I’ll be thinking of that all day : )

    And that clip of Oprah dancing around made me cry-laugh in a such a great way. She looks so silly and carefree–it’s beautiful!

  94. Barbara says...

    Your words are beautiful and useful. Thank you!

    • Natalie says...

      Yes! You summed up how I responded to this too:)

  95. Love, love, love this, Caroline. What a great reminder. And the Oprah clip at the end is just everything. Thank you.

  96. Laura says...

    Caroline, you write so So well.
    A novel, please. Soon.

  97. Kimberly says...

    “The opposite of cool is WARM.” OMG. Amen. Thank you. And THAT is my quote for today.

    • Syd says...

      SAME. I think that I really needed to hear that.

  98. Amanda says...

    I always used to want to look “cool” for first dates (i.e. perfectly coordinated, monochromatic outfits with makeup looks requiring several contouring YouTube tutorials), until I went out with my current partner.

    I had a huge grad school deadline a few hours before our second date, and, out of necessity, I showed up to meet him directly from campus wearing some of the oldest clothes I own, no makeup, and… a backpack haha. After a great meal and conversation, when we stood up to leave, he looked me up and down and said, “you know, you dress really cool!” I actually laughed out loud. Who knew that beneath that straightjacket I was already rocking a personal brand of cool, and when I revealed it, I finally met someone who shared and appreciated my definition, no YouTube tutorials required!

    Loved this piece (and SuperSoul)!

    • L says...

      Yes! When I was single I was always trying to be sure to dress “sexy” (or at least, not un-sexy). Like my mom bought me these Teva sandals from a thrift store, but I didn’t want to wear them because I didn’t want to wear something so un-sexy, in case I ran into a cute guy, I guess. But when I started dating my man 8 years ago, it was obvious he could care less what I wore. I mean he does have his opinions, but at the root of it he always finds *me* sexy even if I’m wearing something kind of dorky.
      Side note, Caroline, you are literally the coolest anyway ;) But I totally love the sentiment of this article.

  99. Alex says...

    I remember having my 20 year old mind blow when Andre 3000 said basically this on The Love Below 15 years ago. “Baby take off your cool, I wanna see you, i wanna see you.” It only took me 10 more years until I turned 30 to actually put it into practice.
    Great reminder Caroline, Thanks!

    • patricia Ferris says...

      The Love Below is 15 years old?! I practically burned a hole in that cd….listened to it nonstop for months!

  100. MJ says...

    This reminds me of one of my all time favorite quotes from “Almost Famous” – one of my all time favorite movies. “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.” ~ Lester Bangs AKA the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman

    • Caroline Donofrio says...

      Yes! I love that quote.

    • Laura says...

      This is one of my all time favorite movies too and I also thought of this quote! Fantastic movie with great music and man does it make me miss the incredible Philip Seymour Hoffman.

  101. I adore Oprah and SuperSoul. Pro-tip: you can listen to it in podcast form now, and it’s my favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon while I’m cleaning my house.

  102. Jen says...

    I’m sorry Caroline. This post is just too *cool* :-)
    But seriously, thank you. Loved reading this!

  103. You rock, Caroline. I’m glad I’m not alone in watching old Super Soul Sundays. The best.

  104. that quote and this post and the video made my morning. MAJOR! ?

  105. Antonia says...

    Yes to all of that! For me, the beatles phrased it perfectly: “For well you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool by making his world a little colder” I don’t want to make my world colder, I want to make it warm and cozy and welcoming!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      love that line.

  106. Sarah says...

    The quote that got to me, so much that I had it written on a post-it on my wall next to my vanity for several years, was by Anais Nin: “life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” As a risk-averse person who bemoaned my lack of a love life, I took those words to heart and finally put myself out there. After a lot of online dating, I met my husband!

  107. YESSS Caroline! Thank you for this post, totally needed this today :)

  108. Em says...

    Can’t even begin to explain how much I needed this. Thank you, xo

    • Lana says...

      Same here.

    • Josie says...

      I cried when I read your last line: ” After all, the opposite of cool…is warm. Doesn’t that sound nice?” Thanks for being vulnerable and sharing! Brene has been extremely influential in my own journey of self growth. Love.

  109. Kathryn says...

    I had the same revelation when we purchased a minivan. It is extremely liberating not having to try to be cool, because a minivan is the exact opposite of cool. The opposite of cool is being yourself, which I can be now. I can listen to the worst music with the windows open, I have enough space to pick-up what I need to help build my yard, I can pick-up my nieces and nephews with carseats for all. I thinking tending to your own spirit actually makes you a much more interesting and full person, and that actually is pretty cool.

    • I absolutely love what you just said, “I thinking tending to your own spirit actually makes you a much more interesting and full person, and that actually is pretty cool.” <3

    • Lana says...

      Love this.

    • Amy says...

      F*ck yeah minivans!!! I’ve always loved minivans, ever since my parents bought their silver 1984 Toyota toaster van with the maroon velour seats!! One of my male friends from college drove a Sienna after graduation. His bros gave him so much shit but everyone loved partying with him because “Dude, do you know how many girls you can fit in this van?” (this makes him sound skeezy, but he’s not, it was insanely practical for clubbing) and so easy to get in and out of drunk.

  110. Sam says...

    Fantastic post and great writing, as usual! I’ve moved 5 times in 10 years for my husband’s job, and find these same sentiments hold true for trying to connect with other women and make friends. I’m having a hard time finding a tribe, but have really tried to be authentic, which usually leaves me walking away from an encounter feeling like a total spaz. Some people respond to it, some people just think I’m weird, but maybe the spastic feeling is just me being real, and probably not cool? Either way, great words to live by!

    • Erin says...

      Brené Brown talks about “vulnerability hangovers” – that feeling when you’ve just put yourself out there and have anxiety about it. Having a name for that feeling keeps me from spiraling into thoughts of “oh my god, did I just overshare?” :)

    • Carol says...

      Oh my god Erin, that is perfect! I had never “heard vulnerability hangover” before! I have them all the time – I constantly walk away from encounters with new people (and sometimes old friends) questioning myself and ruminating on every little thing I said or did and whether or not I made an ass of myself. Maybe having a name for it will allow me to be like “it’s just a vulnerability hangover, it’s ok”

    • Katha says...

      Oh Erin, “vulnerability hangovers” might just be my word of the day. I know this feeling so so well (a.k.a. “oh my god, did I just talk too much (about myself) again?”). And you’re right, having a name for that feeling makes it much more bearable.

    • Kara says...

      All of this! My anxiety around “vulnerability hangovers” has held me back so much in my adult life, mostly in making new friends, but sometimes in relationships with old friends, too. It’s strange because I’m most drawn to people who are super authentic to themselves yet I’m really hard on myself when I’m just being me.

      Looks like I’m off to immerse myself in all things Brene Brown…

    • Erin says...

      Carol + Katha – EXACTLY!!! So helpful to have a name for it!! <3

  111. Love this post! I grew up with the word “cool” and I have definitely been guilty of using it myself. But when you really think about it, what the hell does “cool” mean anyway? Everyone’s definition would be different and yet we all seem to be striving for some general standard of coolness. No more! Being authentic, whether that means being sarcastic, quirky or downright eccentric, is always the way to go.

    x Elise – http://www.thirtythoughtstoday.com

  112. Jessica says...

    Burning to see the roasted sweet potato used in context! Example pleeeease?!

    • patricia Ferris says...

      Ha! I thought the same thing.

  113. Siv says...

    So happy to see Caroline back on the blog! Her posts are so well written and really resonate with me!

  114. Diana McNeill says...

    The opposite of cool is warm. Yes!

  115. Mina says...

    I just love your writing Caroline, I’m so pleased you’re writing for Cup Of Jo again!

  116. Alicia says...

    I used to review college applications for a super-selective liberal arts college. This post reminds me of one of my all-time favorite personal essays, which was about one student’s campaign against the culture of “being chill” at his school. I loved that someone was striving to break his classmates out of that coolness straitjacket, leading by example and even recruiting fellow students tired of having to be so “chill” all of the time. He became my hero.

    • Someone doing that when they’re high school age is impressive. I was reaching peak insecurity when I was his age.

  117. Mina says...

    I love your writing Caroline, I’m so pleased you’re writing for cup of jo again!

  118. Abbie says...

    The end quote + video of Oprah made me cry the HAPPIEST tears.

  119. Christa says...

    So good, Caroline. Thank you for sharing this and reminding us that we are all just trying to do our best, and that caring and being human is much better than being fake. Love all of you so much!

  120. Kellie P. says...

    “After all, the opposite of cool… is warm. Doesn’t that sound nice?”

    NAILED IT.

  121. Sandra says...

    Yes…I am older and not trying to be “cool” and being more myself is something that has evolved over the years and is one of the things I like best about having more life experience under my belt. (Although I’m not saying this is something that only comes with age…some people figure this out far younger than I did).

    The only thing I’ll say is that sometimes it is good to keep some sort of a filter in the whole process, especially with dating. While you want to be yourself, it helps to be the best version of yourself. To turn the tables, it probably wouldn’t be exciting to have a date show up in say, a pair of sweatpants and an old holey t-shirt. Authentic, yes, but not so sexy.

    One of my favorite things about my early relationship with my now husband was that he was direct and honest. He called me up the day after our first date, told me it was the best first date he’d ever been on, and asked me out again. He wasn’t clingy or needy about it, just refreshingly honest after all the guys I’d dated who played games and tried to play it cool.

  122. Hi Caroline, Such a thoughtful post. Yes, cool seems to be a yardstick that so many of us seem to measure ourselves by not matter what generation we belong to. I love this saying: ” What you think of me is none of my business” :)

    Also, thought this interview with Brene (as well as her two previous ones) were wonderful. Chase Jarvis/Brene Brown: The Quest for True Belonging
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gm9JrYhF-Bk

  123. Could this be my all time favorite post?! (Though maybe it’s ironic that COJ will always be my bible for what is “cool,” and I will always consult it for that reason… I guess spotting what’s “cool” is sometimes fun to deliberate on.) But thank god this conversation is out there- I think many of my closest friends grew exhausted from chasing cool a few years ago, and we’re all a little better off (and a little more human) for it.

  124. MK says...

    “If you want to move through this world looking for evidence that you don’t belong, you will find it.”
    That’s the Brene quote that most recently hit me like a mack truck. I have anxiety that sometimes convinces me that my loved ones are mad at me, or don’t like me, or whatever. Whenever I’m having a moment like that bc a friend didn’t respond to my text or something, I think- I’m doing that thing! I’m looking for evidence that I’m unlovable. And of course that “evidence” is always there if you are looking for it. It has completely changed how I emotionally work through those moments.

    • JB says...

      Wow – thanks for this. Guilty of it too!

    • Kate says...

      Thank you for sharing this. My husband has anxiety and is frequently asking if I’m mad at him, or commenting that he thinks a friend doesn’t like him. This is my “aha” moment that helps me think about how I can have a different conversation with him the next time he brings it up!

    • Kari says...

      Wow, MK, that’s powerful. I am so guilty of doing the same thing. That’s such a helpful way to look at it.

    • Allie says...

      MK you’ve put into words what I feel on a daily basis. I will follow your lead and be more self-aware of when these feelings creep up

  125. Alicia says...

    Love this! Thank-you!

  126. that insta post of Oprah dancing gets me through the dark days. I LOVE it! Unrelated, my mother gave me a similar “aha!” moment recently. I repeat what she said to myself all the time. She was coming to dinner to meet my boyfriend for the first time. This is my first real relationship boyfriend after years of dating guys for a few weeks or months at a time before drifting apart, so it was a big big deal. He was very nervous. and I could tell she was a little nervous too. But it went really well and afterward, the two of us were talking and she said, “I just wanted to know he was nice. That’s all that matters. The rest is just extra.” And from now on whenever I’m nervous about the prospect of meeting a new person, whether it’s my boyfriend’s mom or a future sister-in-law or my friend’s girlfriend, I don’t worry about whether they’ll get my jokes or think I’m stylish or witty or whatever, I know that for the most part I should just be really nice and that’s enough.

    • Lisa says...

      Oh yes! Don’t we feel that when we meet someone new who is nice?!

    • Emma says...

      Ahhh that’s such good advice! Go mom.

      I met my guy at work when I had the flu, and one of my opening lines was, “I don’t normally throw up all the time.” So cool!

      Then on our first date, I showed up hot and sweaty in full winter cycling gear… my plan was to change before he arrived, but of course he was earlier than I was.

      With romantic situations, I’ve actually never found it too difficult to be authentic–I figure if someone is going to have sex with you, they’re going to see you as you really are so you might as well not try to deceive them beforehand. But I find it a lot harder when making new friends! Maybe I should just imagine they are going to take my clothes off soon…

  127. Laura says...

    yes! this reminds me of a time 20 or so years ago when a dear friend told me: “you need to stop dating the cool guys”. i’m now 46 and have been happily married (13 years) to a nerd. an emotionally available, sensitive, funny, caring nerd. best advice ever.
    plus…the nerds generally end up being successful.

    • Tara says...

      I was very self-critical and concerned with what other people thought in my early 20s. I spent a lot of time liking and dating bad boys, or guys that really hadn’t actually broken up with their girlfriends (as they assured me they had) partly because if those kinds of guys liked me, I *must* be cool, right?! Not so much. I grew into myself and finally let a nice guy break through and we have a wonderful life–including two boys, two dogs and a messy house. I wish I could tell my 20-something self, “You are MORE than enough!” So from this newly 50-year-old lady to ladies of every age: You are MORE than enough!

    • MaryMargaret says...

      Probably everyone in this comment section has had a no-good-for-anyone bad boy streak. Yes to sweet and kind and available and fun nerds!

  128. Lesley S says...

    Yes! This just made my day. The opposite of cool is warm – love it!

  129. E says...

    My worlds colliding when my fave uplifting blog posts about my fave uplifting show (I listen to the podcasts). So happy right now.

  130. Sarah says...

    I love this and I love you Caroline.

  131. Mary C. says...

    I want to read this to every single high-school student I know. And maybe even go back and read it to the high-school version of myself.

  132. Laura says...

    I remember one of my “aha” quotes was at the end of a long Instagram caption, also about authenticity vs being “cool.” It was, “we are most lovely when we forget to pretend.”

    • Victoria says...

      “Don’t we love our friends the most when they are lost in a moment, when control is gone? Cackling out of control, cheering out of their seats, crying at a Christmas commercial, sleeping too innocently for their foul mouth in the backseat on a roadtrip. We are most lovely when we forget to pretend.”

      Jedidiah always nails it!! I’m so glad you posted the link to this post, I remember reading it way back when but it had gotten lost in my Instagram likes

  133. Elizabeth says...

    I needed to read this more than I could possibly express. Thank you so much for sharing your words.

  134. Nora B says...

    Caroline, you are bomb. So happy you’re back. Big hugs from UT.

    • Emily says...

      So SO SOO happy to see Caroline’s posts again!!

    • Katie Larissa says...

      Is there a petition of some kind we can sign to have Cup of Jo bring Caroline back full time? Because…I will sign it.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      so would i :)

    • Emily says...

      same!! i love her writing and posts. :))

  135. Jessie H. says...

    Basically anything Brene says is gospel to me. She gets it.

  136. Brooke says...

    Loved that episode (I listen to it through podcast) so much. Brene Brown is incredible.

    I also love the wisdom of: “the opposite of cool is warm”. How freeing!

    Wanted to share another one of my favourite Brene Brown quotes that I came across one day on Facebook. She talks about her husband giving her some advice when she was feeling frustrated with someone. He said “Everyone is just doing their best”. Although this might seem obvious, I had a total A-ha moment. If we move through life considering that everyone is just doing the best they can, we become more compassionate and less frustrated with others.

    I find this quote to be most helpful when the subway breaks down on my commute or when someone rudely shoves me on a busy street. I try to think: “They’re just doing their best. Who knows what kind of a day they’re having. I’m sure that subway driver is frustrated too and they’re trying their best to get us up and running. That person is probably really late and flustered, maybe they didn’t see me”. I find this thought process really relieves any frustration or anger I might have felt and lets me move through my day with a lot more ease. Thank you Brene Brown (and her thoughtful husband)!

    • MK says...

      YES.
      I remember reading that in one of her books and I think about it ALL THE TIME, like every day. It is such a good lens to see the world through. We are all trying our best.

  137. Erin says...

    So, so good Caroline. Your best writing comes from your vulnerability and fire!

  138. Aleka says...

    Oh man, that vid of Oprah bouncing around just made my day! Thanks Caroline, I totally agree with this. My dating life totally changed around when I stopped playing the ‘cool girl’. For me that means being honest about the ‘needy’ and sometimes neurotic parts of me that threaten to sabotage a relationship when I don’t honour or communicate them. Case in point: Early on with my current boyfriend, I was honest with him that I was concerned and had questions about a previous ex that seemed very present in his life. I could have turned a blind eye and played nonchallant and feigned a ‘don’t-care’ attititude, but the fact was that I did care and had concerns. My very words to him was “I’m sorry, I just can’t be the cool girl when it comes to his, can we discuss?”, It was awkward and uncomfortable but it allowed us to actually openly discuss and clarify our expectations and worries in the moment. I let him see my immediate reactions, the jealousy, the concern, the need for reassurance. All those ‘bad’ emotions that conventional dating advice warns about. But what it did was it allowed him to rise to the occasion to address my concerns and questions. We learned a lot about each other’s needs and we found out pretty quickly that we cared enough about each other to try our best to meet the other. I think that’s the benefit of not playing it cool…by being honest about what you’re experiencing, it lets you discern quicker whether the person you’re dating has the capacity to meet you during those times of vulnerability. If they don’t, you learn to move on quicker instead of putting up a facade and being disppointed much later. In a lot of ways, it’s kinder to you, and it’s kinder to the other person to brave being authentic.

  139. Barb says...

    LOVE THIS IDEA SO MUCH. It is so true and concisely said. I love the Super Soul Sunday stuff, too, but I usually listen to it as a podcast instead of watching it as a show. Same exact content but a little easier to take with me as I’m doing chores or driving.

    • Laura says...

      Yes! Also the manic pixie dream girl, another figment of the imagination.

  140. Alison says...

    You: “After all, the opposite of cool… is warm. Doesn’t that sound nice?”

    Me: Clouds part. Angels sing.

    This whole post is so right on . Being authentic and happy with myself is something I’m learning in my 40’s and wish I had learned in my 20’s.

  141. Corinne says...

    I just watched her show with Stephen Colbert and it was so good. He said many beautiful and thoughtful things especially about his religion and loving those who seem unlovable. Of course he was funny too. I plan to watch it again with a notepad as there were some quotable moments.

  142. Maclean Nash says...

    “After all, the opposite of cool… is warm. Doesn’t that sound nice?
    Beautiful post and so true!
    I have the BIGGEST crush on Brene!

  143. Holly says...

    ‘The opposite of cool… is warm’….YES!

  144. Bianca says...

    thank you <3

  145. This writing is SO GOOD. Absolutely lovely post!