My first year out of college I worked with a girl we will call Sara. She was super smart, absolutely gorgeous, funny, kind, and she managed to make the cookie-cutter-college-kid apartment she shared with her fiancé look like it should be in an interior design magazine. She was also planning her wedding when we became friends, so we had many conversations on that subject. One day I asked her to tell me about her engagement – how did her fiancé propose?
She told the story, and in it was the requisite complete surprise. She had no idea! Right, I thought to myself, mentally winking at her, me too, no clue. Even though I had picked out the exact ring I wanted and dropped the HEAVIEST of heavy hints every chance I could. I was so surprised too. She said he had picked out the ring himself. Did she give him pointers on what style was her favorite? I asked.
She looked at me blankly. No, she hadn’t. They had never discussed marriage, she said again. That’s why she was so surprised. Right, I said, but you mean he hadn’t told you when he was going to propose, right? Not that you had never even talked about the possibility of marriage. No, she said slowly, as if I was making her nervous with my apparent inability to comprehend what she was so plainly telling me, they had literally never discussed marriage. She was just enjoying dating him and truly hadn’t spent any time worrying about the future.
Up until that point I thought women like her were an urban legend. Everything about her was just so … effortless. She was the woman we all pretended we were to the outside world.
Here’s the thing about effort. Its apparently uncool. We are supposed to be effortlessly skinny and beautiful. You don’t get any points for admitting you calorie count or don’t leave the house without mascara. You just have a “really fast metabolism” or “just eat healthy” and you “just woke up like this” and ugh, you look so terrible, right?
In the Cool Girl Olympics, you also need to be carefree when it comes to life and love. You would never do anything remotely close to resembling pressuring your boyfriend of eight years to finally put a goddamn ring on it. Your not one of those girls. You can hang with the guys, your cool with strip clubs and love video games and sports, you never get jealous, you just float through life on an easy, breezy, beautiful cloud of ZERO EFFORT. You never ever say stuff like “If I have to watch one more fucking Superhero movie I’m going to lose my GODDAMN MIND” or “Um, no, I am actually not “cool” with ANOTHER boys trip to Vegas” or “For the love of GOD could you throw away the empty box instead of putting it back in the pantry.” The effortless cool girl is totally raising her effortless yet perfectly manicured eyebrows at you for even thinking those things.
Pregnancy would never be an effort for a cool girl. You would be so pleasantly surprised to find out you and your husband just happened to get pregnant – you weren’t even paying attention haha! But of course it is such a happy surprise, and pregnancy is just so neat and I’m sure the cool, effortless girl only gains like 7 pounds without even trying and still runs marathons and has sex with her husband eight times a week. Just basically her boobs get really big and her skin extra glowy and her hair thick and bouncy and then in nine months she effortlessly pushes out a perfect baby in 1.5 non-medicated pushes.
This mom thing is just so fun too, look how effortless the cool girl mom is, effortlessly being Pinterest-y with her couture dressed toddlers and babies, with the Pottery Barn nurseries. Look at how she is open-mouthed laughing with her child who just made a huge mess! She doesn’t even care! This mom stuff is just so cool, amiright? When she became a mom she just got it, you know? Life just made sense all of a sudden – transitioning to being a mom was just so natural.
The cool girl either doesn’t believe in social media or has a picture perfect social media presence. She either waves off those “dramatic” things like pregnancy announcements or selfies because she just doesn’t need the attention. Or her Instagram feed is a perfect curation of casual perfectly lit portraits shot by WHO THE HELL KNOWS WHO and a cohesive color theme, usually pastels and whites. Lots of whites.
Yes, the effortless cool girl is our Alpha female.
I am not the effortless cool girl. I actually don’t really know an effortless cool girl, besides Sara who I have lost touch with over the years. And I would be willing to bet Sara maybe wasn’t effortlessly cool in EVERY area of her life, at least that’s what I tell myself so I can sleep at night. We love to hate the effortlessly cool girl while we simultaneously long to be her.
And here is what else I’ve learned: although we all secretly want to be the effortlessly cool girl – damnit if those messy real girls aren’t a hell of a lot of fun. Those messy real girls are the ones that make us sort of fall to our knees in relief, make us laugh, make us LOVE her.
I picked out my own ring. I used to get secretly resentful of “boys night” back when my husband still had them. At parties I bring my own cocktail because I hate beer and wine. I am what you would call “high maintenance” in pretty much any sense of the phrase. I would almost rather run a marathon than leave my house without makeup on. Almost, but actually not really because I have never ran an anything and have no plans to ever do so. I have to take close to 20 selfies before I find one I like enough to post. I like posting selfies. I like attention. I screamed my way through childbirth and hated every damn second. I die a little inside with every mess my daughter makes but grit my teeth and smile because I don’t want her childhood to be filled with memories of me yelling at her about the mess. She now begs to dust and wipe down tables and I am secretly patting myself on the back about that. I question my parenting constantly.
I am messy and full of effort and I am finally at peace with that. Its almost effortless how messy I am. Pretty damn cool, right?