Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why So Serious?

"Get stuck in the never-ending drama (worrying about what irrelevant people think) and you'll never get anything done."
-Seth Godin, author, marketing expert

We all need to lighten up. We take ourselves way too seriously for our own good. Half the things we freak out about don't mean shit in the long run. So it begs the question...why so serious?

I read a blog post by Seth Godin the other day that talked about high school, explaining that the "winners" (which I took to mean the popular kids) were the ones who didn't take high school too seriously. Now some might argue that the popular kids weren't the winners - the whole idea of how the nerd in high school will one day be the football captain's boss in the work world - but I disagree to an extent.

During my tenure in high school, I found myself somewhere in the middle of the nerd and the popular kid. I had one large group of friends (my posse) plus smaller pockets of friends scattered across the social spectrum - from the nerds and bandos in the AP classes to the jocks and punk rock princesses in the general - so I feel I had a pretty wide range of social interaction to give me a fair vantage point. Thus, I will conclude that the popular kids were the winners, not the nerds who buried themselves in books and got a 4.2 GPA. Why? Because the popular kids successfully lived in the moment, at least moreso in comparison to the bookworms. The popular kids, the winners, made the memories on which they can look back fondly.

A microcosm of this theory: One night I was nose deep in some 800-page, hard-bound book studying for a test in God knows what class. I got a phone call from four of my closest friends saying they were going to drive around town playing strip padiddle and wanted me to come. I respectfully declined their tempting offer, choosing a pedantic night over their joy-riding. Looking back, you know what I remember about that test? Nothing. Not the class, not the grade, not the teacher. Not even the night of studying. What could I have remembered from that night? Dave, Katie, Jacquie and Shannon half-naked in a minivan driving around North Olmsted for no other purpose than to prove to ourselves that we were alive...yep, not sure I would have forgotten that. To this day I can still tell you who was in what car seat when they pulled up to my house to coerce me into joining. I remember who was more naked than the others.

They were the winners that night. Not me.

Now I'm not saying "Don't ever study. Go out and have fun every chance you get." There just comes a time where you should say, as I often tell my students, "Fuck it." Recognize what matters in the long run.

If you find yourself overanalyzing everything, take a step back. If you find yourself a little too OCD for even the most catatonic schizophrenic, chill out and go sit in your favorite chair.

But the next time four of your best friends pull up in a minivan half naked and laughing hysterically, think about what you'll remember five years down the road...and get in the damn car!


Alivia said...

you don't even know how much i needed this blog post today....thank you jeff hirz. THANK...YOU... :)

Paul Matson said...

Said extremely well!! Just like we need to remember that the careers goals to which we aspire do not define us as people. Relationships and memories are what make us who we are.

Brilliant post. Now get in the damn car.

Jessica Donlon said...

Agree - well said. :) And even jumping off Paul's comment about the career goals - seems like high school has a few similarities to an agency office. (And as a PR-er I'm pretty hihg-strung most of the time here - completely normal outside - bringing it together is the sweetness.) Sure you want to be consistently reliable, meet deadlines, innovate new ideas, but a lot times clients want to know YOU. What music do you rock out to, how was your weekend, what do they do on their weekends... Be in the moment when listening to friends, family, and clients - just listen to people - bc people are what matters in the long run for sure :)