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What is "chill"?

When I hear “chill” used to describe other people — “Oh, she’s super chill”; “Oh yeah, he’s pretty chill” — I immediately conjure an image in my mind. Chill gals study a little, work a little, play a little, and make the dudes feel comfortable about themselves. Chill dudes crack open Natty Lights, make out on dance floors, and get "sick" internships.

To me, the whole meaning of "chill" is just about as wildly elusive as it is frustratingly exclusive.

For Rebecca Alifimoff, "chill" seems to represent a sort of blasé affectation reduced to snippy texts and go-with-the-flow vibes. For me, "chill" was probably the reason why I was cut from a couple clubs and societies. While rushing, I learned that I was cut from one society because an upperclassman complained I was "too extra." I wonder: did "too extra" mean I was not "chill"?

In any case, I know what my personality amounts to: like Alifimoff, I also talk too loudly. I scream when others chuckle, wear sunglasses on top of my glasses, don gold sequin bootie shorts, and casually send racy snapchats. I’m never going to refer to a beer as "a cold one" and I absolutely won’t watch the NBA because I hate sports.

In April, I was invited to a diversity event in New York where I met someone who, later in May, affectionately told me something along the lines of: "Hey Anders, you’ll find the balance — between your personality, and the need to deaden yourself inside."

I thanked her for her advice, and thought about it.

Here’s my take on “chill.” At Penn, this whole "deadening yourself" with placid smiles and mildly network-y “hahas” is done for me. “Chill” is a ballooning umbrella word that just perpetuates toxic bro activity and pressures people to deflate and compress their bodies into little boxes of compliance. I’m over it, and I’ll take a good bet that most minority communities are over it, too.

ANDERS ZHOU is a Wharton freshman from California studying economics. His email address is andersz@wharton.upenn.edu. 

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