As we grow and evolve from year to year, our definition of cool changes with us. The things we thought were cool as kids are probably not the same things we like now. Hopefully.
When I was in seventh grade, there were two things that girls had to do to even be considered cool. Both of them involved carrying something in your back pocket. One: a hairpick. None of us had afros, so I'm unsure why these were necessary, but we used them anyway. Two: a CoverGirl compact of pressed powder. This was about the limit of make-up any of us were allowed to wear, but we carried them around proudly. Those imprints in the butt of your pants defined you. Without them, you were lame.
When we moved up to high school, coolness took on a whole new meaning. Being cool wasn't just something you could achieve by carrying something in your pocket, it was about everything you did. You had to present yourself a certain way. You wanted to fit in by dressing the part and doing the right things. So you could get some Dr. Martens, wear some babydoll shirts, part your hair down the middle (yuck), and wear your Tommy Hilfiger clothes. You could even sport a No Fear shirt if you were feeling sassy. You could stand in the breezeway by the soda machine where the upper classmen hungout (being an upper classmen automatically made you cool). You could carry your Jansport backpack and your FiveStar notebook. You could even get a pager. (No one had a cell phone when I was a teenager, except Zack on Saved by the Bell).
If you're really going for coolness points in high school, you can drive a nice car. Put in a CD player. Turn the bass up way too high. Or drive your parents awesome truck. Peel out whenever possible.
Then you can play high school sports. If you're good, everybody will know your name. My school was small, so everybody knew your name anyway, but you get the point. Being the star of the football/basketball team gets you a few coolness points. Maybe even Homecoming King or Queen.
In your early twenties being cool is a whole different thing. What makes you cool depends on who you hang out with. For some people, being cool is dressing a certain way and hanging out at bars. For others, its making your kids and home your life. Making them the best that they can be.
Later in life some people define their coolness by what others have achieved. They take credit for their children's accomplishments. When their children do well in sports or academics, they are proud and consider themselves accomplished.
At this point in my life, coolness has a new definition. Its more about what I don't do. I see plenty of examples of what not to do every time I leave my house. I see someone who looks like a total dork and I think to myself, "They look so dumb, there's no way I'll ever look that dumb." So I don't carry a fanny pack (sorry Aunt Beth, but we both know its not cool). I don't perm my hair. I don't wear shoes where my feet hang off the edge. I don't wear clothes that are too small and make me look ridiculous. Also on my don't wear list: patriotic shirts from Walmart, old lady visors, elastic waisted pants, socks that go past my ankles, "mom" jeans, blu-blocker sunglasses, socks with sandals.
I also don't clean my kids faces with my own spit. Not that I've never tried. Alana told me it was "gwoss". So being cool is a work in progress. And I think I'm reasonably cool. Jury's still out on whether my kids agree.