When I was little, I was told that the world favors people who are willing to try. “Take a chance, because you never know if this will end up being your breaking point” was what had always been said to me every time I took a step back in fear. I have been brought up thinking that it is never too late to start exploring–a belief I strongly root for, and which I am sad to discover is not really the truth.
The entry requirements for many things, from club memberships to university programs, from internships to part-time jobs, are becoming more and more demanding. Nowadays, you can barely find anything without much prior experience and/or knowledge. Now, I obviously am not suggesting that prior experience and/or knowledge should never be an important factor to consider; it certainly would be irresponsible and unreasonable to hire brain surgeons who have never studied neurology or investment bankers with no understanding of financial dealings. However, when I see high school clubs asking for leadership experience and internship opportunities with a long list of technical-skill requirements, my faith in the belief that “it is never too late” surely does not strengthen.
Reflecting upon the many interviews I have been in at only nineteen years old, I have been rejected at least 90% of the time if I answer “I have never done anything like this before. I would like to give it a shot and see if it could work for me” to the question “Why do you want this position?”, even though the answer is honest. Most people look for an extended list of similar experiences in the past, followed by elaborate paragraphs explaining my passion in the area. I will admit that I have wrecked my brains to make far-fetched experiences seem relevant and feigned strong interest in areas I had not developed passion for but was interested in exploring. The unfortunate reality is that this strategy worked, that by not being too brutally honest, I have often been saved from eliminations.
I think it safe to say that the world does not welcome those who would like to try something new as much as it claims. I would like to think that society hopes to give everyone a chance, but there is some hidden obstacle so immensely difficult to overcome that it fails to do as it wishes. That obstacle is our lack of courage and trust. The systems we have built and the procedures we have developed have woven a life so comfortable and dear for us to lose; there is too much at stake if we venture into the unknown and take a risk. And so we try to play it safe by shrinking our selection pool and only entrusting those who we know with certainty know what to do.
By doing so, we have lapsed into the habit of expecting resources to be ready for us to utilize. Becoming used to staying within our comfort zones without encouragement to expand into uncharted territory and unaccustomed to train someone from scratch are all dangerous trends; they will prevent us from taking big steps and making more revolutionary discoveries in the future if we have lost the patience and bravery to invest in someone / something new. This needs to change. Let us start by lowering the bar and taking a step back, so that more of us can take a step forward, and have the opportunity to try.