11/11/2014 01:20 pm ET Updated Jan 11, 2015

The Elusive Art of Being Cool: How We Define It and Why It's Stupid

The question teens will always ask themselves is, "Am I cool?" While we can't put into words exactly what the definition of cool is, we know it when we see it.

Kids everywhere agonize over whether the clothes they buy, the music they listen to and the activities they take part in are cool or not. Flare jeans or board shorts? Avril Lavigne or Nickelback? Ultimate frisbee team or needlepoint club?

We're constantly worrying about how people will perceive us, in our appearance and actions, but never stop to consider why we care so much. Why do we care so much about what these people think?

What's "cool" is constantly changing to go along with our constantly changing lives. We are a fickle generation, persistently looking for new things to be excited about and obsess over. Anyone remember Webkinz, Silly Bandz or Livestrong bracelets? And above all, Crocs? When we look at these things now, we realize how unbelievably dorky they were, but with the approval of a large group of people, they were "totally awesome!" These things were only cool because other people said they were. The entire system of coolness is based on approval from groups of people we consider more "totally awesome" than we are. For example, there's no way I would have thought Tamagotchis were cool unless my friend's worldly older sister had told me so. And right she was, those things were bitchin'.

The point is we shouldn't let anyone dictate what we like because our coolness compasses, like our moral compasses, come from within. Do what you love and don't let anyone tell you it's lame.

(Unless what you love is listening to Nickelback because Nickelback is super lame. Forty-year-old men in leather bracelets are just not cool.)

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