In Defense of Being Unchill

My best friend is from California, and early on in our friendship, I picked up a new word: chill. Obviously I had heard and used the word before in a variety of contexts, but never in the way my friend used it.

“It’s chill,” meaning: it’s fine, it’s cool, no worries, it’s all good.

“They’re chill,” meaning: they’re cool, they’re fun, they’re worth hanging out with.

I also quickly learned that never, under any circumstance, did you want yourself or your actions to be described as “unchill.” To be told that you, or what you’ve done, is unchill is the equivalent of having your parents sit you down as a child and tell you that you’ve disappointed them. If you’ve been unchill, you’ve messed up big time, and there will be much apologizing and groveling in your future to atone for whatever you’ve done.

Of course, it’s possible to do something that would legitimize such a scolding. Willfully acting cruel towards another person with the intention to hurt him or her is unchill, and that sort of behavior shouldn’t ever be tolerated. But I’ve found, not just from my best friend, but from general slang usage of the word, that being unchill doesn’t just mean being mean. More often than not, in fact, I’ve heard “unchill” used simply to mean the opposite of being chill: not cool, not fun, not worth hanging out with. To be chill means to be easygoing, someone who won’t rock the boat, to be a yes (wo)man. To be unchill means to be the opposite of those things.

Though the word unchill may have been a somewhat recent addition to my vocabulary, the concept isn’t new to me. I’ve never particularly enjoyed getting a rise out of people or instigating conflict. I’ve preferred to sit back and accommodate other people’s wishes, suppressing my emotions or opinions for the sake of not upsetting anyone else. While I couldn’t possibly count the number of times I’ve been upset over one thing or another someone did to me (or even in my general direction), but I can only think of maybe a handful of times where I’ve actually approached the person causing me grief and said, “Hey, I have feelings about this.”

I’ve been chill, because being chill is a fairly easy way to win people’s favor. When you never tell someone no and never allow your feathers to become visibly ruffled, it is, if nothing else, hard to come up with a list of reasons why people shouldn’t like you. No one likes a girl who causes drama, right? A chill girl would never cause drama, so by being chill, you automatically rise above those dramatic girls – or at least that’s what I’ve always believed.

I still believe this, to an extent. I think it’s good to maintain a level head, and I think it’s good to not cause unnecessary drama because of some minor slight you may have felt. But I’m starting to think there’s something to this unchill thing.

Over the past year, I’ve found myself wildly upset about various things, which I think is a pretty standard experience for most people over the course of a year. But instead of dealing with the problem, more often than not, I’ve chosen to quietly stew until my anger, annoyance, frustration, hurt, etc., has run its course. While this provides me with a delightfully non-confrontational way to deal with my “negative” feelings, very rarely has it actually solved the root of the problem. I get stuck in this cycle of being hurt, not telling whoever happened to upset me that I’m hurt, getting over it, and then repeating the whole thing.

But being unchill–expressing an opinion, telling someone who upset me that I’m upset and why I’m upset–has the potential to stop that cycle in its tracks. To my knowledge, no one has ever successfully read my mind up to this point in my life. The only way to expect anyone to know what I’m thinking is by telling them. Even if that means expressing an opinion. Even if that means expressing an unpopular opinion.

I think I could certainly stand to be a little more unchill, because I don’t think having feelings is a bad thing, and I don’t think you should be punished for expressing those feelings (provided you do it in a mature fashion, of course). I think it’s important to stand up for yourself, and I think being unchill is a good first step to doing just that.

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2 thoughts on “In Defense of Being Unchill

  1. I need to be more unchill too. I’m big on not “rocking the boat,” so to speak. I hate any kind of confrontation and have a bad habit of bottling it up inside of me until it all blows up. Just ask Tim haha I’ve gotten better overtime at talking about how I’m feeling when I’m upset about something which usually resolves the issue much faster and cleaner than when I work myself up so much that it comes out anyways, but I have a LONG way to go. Here’s to being unchill 😉

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