I started playing “cool girl” in high school and kept it up through most of my 20s. I never wanted to be too girly or too needy, always in control (especially of my emotions), rarely a mess, together, responsible, unattached, independent, “I’m fine”, doesn’t give a fuck if you like me or not-type. Some of that range and expression was natural, but the cool-girl-exterior and hot-mess-interior was definitely not.
I mastered pretending not to care while slowly dying inside. In fact, I got so good at it I had multiple boyfriends tell me they didn’t feel emotionally connected to me, didn’t feel like I was offering any vulnerability, and couldn’t read emotion on my face (because I wasn’t showing any).
It came as a shock.
I FELT vulnerable all the time, so I thought I was being vulnerable with other people. I was an open book on an intellectual level, which I thought meant I was vulnerable. But talking about feelings is not the same as revealing emotions. My face and body language weren’t reflecting what was happening for me internally.
It took me years of practice to start to reveal emotions in real time, in a congruent way that other people understood. The reward was…
I stopped feeling so alone,
dissolved a shit ton of shame,
chose better friends and partners,
and got out of a lot of draining codependent dynamics where people benefited from me not having any inconvenient emotions or needs.
It dramatically changed how accepted, loved, supported, and connected I felt to myself and other people.
Some signs you’re playing the cool girl:
- You never let people see the messy behind-the-scenes
- You want to look put together, but never like you’re trying
- They don’t call or text and you pretend like you don’t care, even though you can’t stop thinking about it
- People comment that they can’t tell what you’re feeling
- You smile when you’re sad or angry
- It’s hard to admit you’re struggling or to ask for help
- You’re easily embarrassed
- You obsess about what you’re going to wear
- When dating, you’re the chill, easy-going, doesn’t have any needs type
- You rarely let yourself cry in front of others
- It’s hard to admit to your insecurities, even to yourself
- Being unprepared leads to panic
- You secretly worry a lot about making mistakes
- Priding yourself on using logic rather than getting emotional
- You pick up hobbies or activities you don’t love for the image it portrays (sports, drinking beer, taste in music)
- You lie about beauty enhancements and pretend everything is natural
- When someone says something hurtful, you don’t speak up
This is an exhausting way to live. It robs you of authentic connection to yourself and other people. In your attempt to be accepted and protect yourself from hurt, you lose a chance at the thing you actually want– love. People can’t love you in a way that feels fulfilling when you don’t reveal the truth of how you really feel, what you need, or what you like and dislike.
What’s actually cool?
Authenticity. Revealing your heart. Caring about the things that matter and giving fewer fcks about the things that don’t.
Are you desiring to show up more authentically in your life? To soften the protective shell and allow more pleasure and heart-based connection in?
I have a map for this one.
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