When you just can’t chill

I first came across the phrase ‘Net Zero Chill’ in this wild-agreement-inducing Alana Massey essay against chill.

It was resonance at first sight, and it stuck. It became my Twitter bio for a while, then my Medium handle — and has been my go-to response when somebody demands to know why I have ‘no chill’. Thank you, Alana (and Black Twitter, who gave us the precursor, ‘no chill’.)

We live in the times when being ‘chill’ is a great thing, and is actively encouraged. I’m not here to debate the merits of being chill or unchill. Everybody knows that like everything ever argued on the Internet, it’s a debate that goes nowhere.

I’m here to make a quick list of how being utterly unable to chill looks like:

  1. You hear “calm down” and its variants a lot.
  2. You repeatedly remind yourself (and get reminded) that no puppies and small children will die if you chill.
  3. You have a lot of trouble ‘chilling’. You don’t even know what chilling really means. Chilling probably makes you anxious about all the other things you could be doing instead. When you do chill, you question if you are, in fact, chilling.
  4. You remind yourself that you need to chill. Multiple times, every single day.
  5. You spend a lot of time worrying (and then comforting yourself) about things that will probably never happen or are inevitable.
  6. Your conversations with yourself include damage control for things that haven’t gotten damaged yet.
  7. You want to live in a book or a movie and are frequently annoyed at the real world not being said book or movie.
  8. You have a plan for everything. You have a plan for being impulsive.
  9. You’re looking at this list and wondering if everything is okay with yourself. (It probably is, chill.)
  10. You use a lot of quantifiers.
  11. You have trouble identifying with large swathes of the Internet.
  12. You find yourself debating if people actually mean what they say.
  13. You’re convinced you’re ill-equipped to be an adult.
  14. Your Net Zero Chill frequently gets labeled as ‘deep’, ‘profound’, ‘mature’ or ‘self-indulgent’. People have no chill.
  15. You frequently wish you had more chill.
  16. Your net zero chill gets shit done and saves a lot of chill backsides.