Derek Sivers

Life is like high school

2000-06-01

When you’re in high school, it’s all about popularity, cliques, and being cool.

When you go to college, the focus shifts to academic achievement.

Many people get out of college thinking the world will be like that — like the harder you work, the more you’ll be rewarded. But it’s not.

Life is like high school. It’s all about how you come across, how social you are, what scene you’re in, being likeable, and being cool.

But you can make this work in your favor.

You can be your idealized self.

You can be where things are happening.

You can attend cool events, and invite people to join you.

You can practice your social skills and be the kind of person that people like to help.

You can approach this strategically, as if you were a new kid going to a new school, with a goal to be popular. It sounds shallow, but it works.

Be who they want to be. In your role as a musician, it’s actually considerate!

It’d be easier to put in no effort and be normal. Show up wearing whatever, take a normal photo, and be a regular person.

But people want someone to look up to. Someone who’s not of their normal boring world. Someone who’s being who they wish they could be, if they had the courage.

It takes some extra effort to look and act cool instead of normal, but it’s considerate and part of your art.

Look back at artists like Andy Warhol or Miles Davis, who were not only great at their art, but also knew how to play their image — to be cool.