6 Reasons Being Book Smart Is WAY Better Than Being Street Smart

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Being Book Smart Is Better Than Being Street Smart

Growing in trust or growing in fear: you choose.

So many folks say, "Oh man, street smarts are what helped me succeed in the world!" But I'm here to speak up for book smarts, which so often are thought of as the lesser cousin to street smarts. I mean, is it really just the people who don't have college degrees saying street smarts are where it's at, while those more educated trumpet the benefits of more formal schooling?

I'm lucky enough to be considered both book smart and street smart. My street smarts were earned by making a living as an actress, a nude model and an exotic dancer starting when I was eighteen. I learned the ropes quickly living in New York City, and discovered how to protect myself while living in an edgy subculture.

After seven years of struggling with only my street smarts, I knew I needed something more to rely on  I needed some book smarts to round me out, so I began college in my mid-twenties.

I had been a decent student in high school, but certainly not valedictorian material. In college, that's exactly what I was. While working full-time in an office job, I devoted myself to my studies. I would accept no less than a 4.0 GPA and that mindset was what I thrived on. After graduating with my BA, I went on to earn my Master of Fine Arts degree.

These five reasons explain why being book smart is WAY better than being street smart.

1. You have self-confidence as your best accessory.

I've felt more confident in all my pursuits since I gained book smarts. I have bona fide knowledge to back me up, which makes me feel more legit and qualified for any work-related experiences, and also in general everyday situations.

Street smarts were never reliable when it came to feeling prepared and confident as I walked into unfamiliar situations. Instead of feeling like I'm building a house out of straw that could tumble at any moment, with my book smarts I feel like what I'm building has a solid foundation.

2. You don't have to worry about being disproved.

My street smarts could always be disproved by someone else who happened to be more street savvy. It was a dog-eat-dog lifestyle where I could trust no one. With book smarts, once you got it, you got it. When you have actual, verifiable knowledge to back you up, no one can come along and knock your facts on their face.

With street smarts, you feel like you're always on the defensive, but with book smarts you can relax and rely on the knowledge to do the work. I have proof of what I know now, but with my street smarts I was always being pushed around and proven wrong.

3. You have proof of your success.

I'm a more productive member of society with my education and knowledge. I can go out into the world and really make a difference as opposed to when I had only my street smarts. I had to go out and hustle to make a buck. I was never sure how long any one gravy boat was going to float.

It's a whole different playing field when I have those pieces of paper hanging on my wall to prove what I'm capable of.

4. You never stop learning.

Street smarts helped to me to survive in the moment, but book smarts will help me in the long run. Street smart living is all about teetering on the edge of a great abyss of temporary success or accidental total destruction. My book smarts, however, have given me solid, long-term knowledge that will never change.

Street smarts can only take you so far down the street, but book smarts build upon book smarts. You get smarter and smarter, enabling you to grow. And let's face it, book smart is something you can bank on, while street smart is more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants level of value.

5. You can actually have a career you enjoy.

When I had street smarts, I had jobs and had to always be ready to bounce to the next one. Now that I have book smarts, I have a career. Each successive job I've had builds on the last in terms of responsibility and wage-earning power.

Yes, there are always going to be those few lucky folks who make a million with no schooling, but the majority of successful people have a college degree paving their way.

6. You find deeper meaning in life.

Since I gained book smarts, I look for deeper meaning, and isn't that really what the point of life is all about? I make connections between things and people and ideas where, when I only had street smarts, the only connections I made were between people and whom I could hustle next.

Imagine street smarts and book smarts in cartoon form: street smarts would be a city block wearing boxing gloves, its face would sport a black eye, and it would always be on the defensive, always having to keep moving. But our cartoon book smarts is a book with glasses on, legs crossed, lounging back in a chair drinking a cup of latte. Reading, studying, absorbing, connecting.

Your choice: whom would you rather be? It's either each man for himself, or people working together, sharing ideas, learning and helping. Growing in trust or growing in fear: you choose.

Like anything in life, it's great to have a balance between two. I was lucky enough to gain my street smarts first and then build upon them with my book smarts. Now I know how to protect myself in the real world while also having a certain sense of credibility and assuredness in my value as a productive member of society.

(Of course, my street-wise self just laughed its ass off at me boasting about being a "productive member of society.")


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