So I recently watched this pretty popular commencement speech (which led into a book by the way also titled You Are Not Special) and it was both satisfying and stimulating. You can find the speech at the bottom of this article.
The speaker, David McCullough Jr., made a point about doing things to actually experience them not to say you did them, and that of course got me thinking.
I know I am almost obsessed with figuring out ways to leverage my experiences and make them resume worthy. I want every learning experience that I have to translate into “I’m an adult who can be trusted with important things”. When I travel alone, I want to promote that. When I take up jobs that my conservative family has deemed as dangerous for young girls, I post that as a badge of honor across my social media that I delivered pizzas into the wee hours of the night in people’s pitch black backyards and dog-guarded basements.
To me, everything I do brings me closer to knowing my own limits and lack thereof. How I get a potential employer to be interested in those situations is beyond me though. Of course I think it’s important that my interviewer knows I have courage and I’ll do what it takes to get the job done, even if the process is somewhat unorthodox – not illegal though. Never illegal. Most interviewers don’t exactly see how delivering pizzas relates to a desk job though.
Whether it’s because things like food service and retail businesses are widely under-appreciated or critical “coming-into-your-own” moments like solo traveling are as abundant as drops of water in the sea, these moments that are a big deal to our personal growth just don’t seem come off the same when we talk about our professional development.
When something doesn’t matter immediately, that doesn’t mean it won’t ever matter. It may be years before the right company understands how retreating to work on a remote ranch for a few months relates to their business. Meg Jay, PH.D & author of The Defining Decade, was known as the girl who did Outward Bound at her first job after her four-year stint with them. That’s what made her stick out. We all want to know how we can turn our amazing adventures that shaped so much of our perspectives into something that gives us a mark that the competition can’t touch, just like Meg. But Meg did Outward Bound because she knew it appealed to who she was, not because she knew six years down the line she’d get a job off of it.
Meg, just like David McCullough Jr., is an advocate for doing things because they appeal to who you are and not because that’s what you “should” be doing. It’s okay to do things that have an impact on you without a clear way of making them appeal to others. If you’re doing the things you are passionate about, then when you talk about the things you are passionate about it will make sense to the people who matter to you, the people you work with and will ultimately work for. You won’t be spinning anything. You’ll be honest.