I accepted last year that I have no chill. None.
For years I wore the mask of chill, perhaps poorly, but I tried because it's what I was told to do—to be slack with expectations, accountability, and boundaries and to call it being understanding. I let friends be flaky, swallowed disappointments whole, and gave time to men who were consistent only in mixed signals.
Looking back, I'm almost embarrassed at the amount of free passes I leant to those who were committed to being indirect. I think of the friends who just couldn't give a clear "no" until the very last minute, people I've encountered who chose to ignore me until an opportune moment as a "communication strategy," the life coach I hired who constantly over promised and under delivered, men who've attempted to steer us into a situationship, and many other instances where I both shrunk myself and turned down the temperature to make sure everyone was comfortable. Everyone but me.
I woke up to my acute case of chill at a Christmas party a few Decembers ago. Under the sparkling lights and silver tinsel I was gushing to a friend over someone I was seeing. After listening, she leaned in and said "But you don't want the same thing." After the party I laid in bed and surfed the net until I found Alana Massey's piece Against Chill. It was everything I needed and fuel to stop my "cool girl" act.
The "cool girl" archetype extends far beyond dating. It's a trope both women and men are taught to adopt as a way to tuck away "messy" emotions and vulnerability. If you turn down the temperature, you can't get hurt, you're forever preserved in a state of super chill ambivalence, happily appreciating any crumbs of good treatment as if that's reward enough. After all, isn't it supremely uncool to make a big deal over something everyone else seems so chill with?
I have never been able to stop feeling my feelings, but I have wanted to and I have attempted to—especially when they have clashed with what's expected of me. But each time saw me drowning out my intuition... all in an effort to make sure no one felt bad for being a flake or for not taking responsibility for their actions (or inactions).
If you're constantly icing your thoughts as if they were a bruise to numb, then you can't hear what they are trying to tell you. The way our intelligent bodies inflame to an area to alert us of pain and sickness, our emotions will do for us, too, if we're willing to tenderly examine them instead of dulling them away to look cool. That tinge of pain or disappointment might be trying to tell you something, and no, it's not to be more chill and understanding.
From friend to business to family, it's not healthy to excuse your feelings just because the person you're dealing with hates confrontation and tells you how much they dislike disappointing people despite just having disappointed you. This can even open the door to gaslighting, where you slowly began to believe you've caused their shabby treatment of you.
A few years ago I would have cringed up while writing this, but I now see all the times I chose cool and chill over my authentic self as me fulfilling my in-born program of being a nice girl—people pleasing despite the discomfort.
My answer to chill is boundaries. The only way to trust is to trust, so by all means trust, but pair it with knowing exactly how you want to be treated and an ear actively listening for any coded language you start to use internally to justify not reacting to what your feelings are begging to react to.
Above all, and what I remind myself constantly, is that it's so easy to treat people with kindness and consideration. It's literally the first thing we learn in preschool and over Mr. Rogers' reruns. If you're tolerating less than that from anyone—including being excluded, ignored, or fed excuses on why your needs aren't as important—then examine why you're continuing to extend such understanding courtesies to them, as you are just as worthy of understanding and courtesy.
Draw your boundaries and save chill for ice cream and summertime dips in the pool. Choose warmth.