Robert Tamayo

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How Easy it is to Sell Out

It's easier to sell out than you think. You might have already done it. I know I have...in the past.

Selling Out


Selling out typically means supporting a view you wouldn't normally be bothered with supporting, or adopting a style that you wouldn't normally adopt, and doing so with the intention of gaining more money, fame, or success.

Bands are accused of selling out when they start making hits. Maybe some bands just get better? Or maybe they have changed and grown and their musical tastes are different now? That might be the case, sure. But selling out is usually when a band goes against one of its founding principles with the publicly-perceived intention of making more money. 

Sugar Ray used to be a metal band, apparently. No one heard of them until they "sold out." One of the original guitarists left the band before they got famous, simply because he didn't want to sell out.

Purely business-minded people might think he made the wrong choice. But I think he made the right one. He didn't want money or fame; he wanted to make heavy music. He was set on that goal, not on the goal of making millions and having hit singles on the radio. His choice to not sell out had nothing to do with money -- it had to do with focusing on his own, personal goal, which was bigger and more important to him than money.

When I Sold Out


I "sold out" in the 6th Grade.

The school was having an essay contest for AVID, some kind of reading program or whatever. I was young, but I was really enjoying writing at the time. I knew I could write well, but I also knew that my essay wouldn't be noticed unless it had some reason to be noticed.

That's when I had my idea: I would write about some environmental issue, since environmentalism was the new big thing at the time.

I decided to focus on the littering problem at school. I wrote about how the school used to be beautiful, but by the end of the school year, litter was everywhere. The school was now ugly, a hideous distortion of its former self. 

I wrote about how litter was a problem for not just the school, but the world. The earth itself was suffering from humans trashing it, filling its valleys with cans and its oceans with bottles. I wrote about how we as humans had to come together and fix this problem, not just for our sake but the world's.

Now, I said I sold out. But I actually do think litter is a problem. I do think it makes streets ugly and can destroy the beauty of the world.

So if I believe the things I said, then how did I sell out?

I sold out because I embellished my views and made them fit the environmentalist zeitgeist. I morphed my views about beauty, aesthetics, and the importance of taking care of nature into something resembling the popular "go green" movement of the time. I had written a piece with these views knowing that they would be seen favorably by the judges.

And they were. I won the contest. I didn't get the first place prize, but I won an award in a contest that took place across the entire city.

The Lesson I Learned


It's very easy to sell out. I didn't realize it at the time, but I had indeed sold out. It wasn't something that went completely against my nature, but it was something that I did that changed my perceived views to match what I thought others wanted to hear.

There may have been times in your life when you sold out. Maybe you didn't. Either way, it's important for all of us to examine our beliefs and stick to them. Don't do something you wouldn't normally do just for the money or status.

One Final Note


One final note: I wrote my essay about how trashed the school had become by the end of the school year. There really was a lot of litter. Kids had been throwing their trash on the ground all year. At the school, we only had one janitor. I always wondered why he seemed to hold a grudge against me....

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