I quasi-watched a two-hour special on CNBC last night called something like “20 Under 20.” It basically followed young people who were vying for one of 20 spots in Peter Thiel’s startup fellowship program. Some of these kids were still in high school. It was insane how smart and focused these young people were. What was I doing when I was 17 years old? Shoot, not thinking about the problems in the world and devising innovative solutions.
A number of the contestants were in college and talked about feeling so passionate about their project that they would consider dropping out of school to see if they could make it happen. Years ago, this would be unheard of: who drops out of college except losers? Who would risk their future on today’s whim? Then people like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg made it so fashionable to drop out of school and create multi-million (billion?) dollar companies and it became such the thing to do.
The junction of youth and passion and invention and urgency exists nowhere as much as here in Silicon Valley. It doesn’t hit any other industry and region as much as it does here. It makes me feel funny. Though I’m pretty tech savvy, have a strong history of having worked in this industry and am relatively young, I feel kind of washed up. I mean– I’m unemployed and really struggling to find a job so definitely not feeling particularly positive about myself or my life these days. But I feel like, I dunno– maybe there’s nothing that I can provide that a boisterous 25 year old couldn’t do and do more cheaply. It’s such a weird feeling to have when so young.
It hasn’t helped that some of the jobs I’ve applied for have been filled by people a number of years younger than me. For example, I interviewed for a social platform-y kind of company in April 2011. Now, I feel a little annoyed to begin with that I even applied for the role. The job description wasn’t very clear and it wasn’t until I got to the onsite interviews (they paid for my flight so thank you for that) that it became clear that the role was totally user acquisition. Had it stated that in the job description, I don’t know that I would have applied (since that isn’t really my forte). A whole year later, my friend applied for the same role and her complaint was the same: that the description lacked clarity on the actual expectations of the role. At any rate, I had to pitch ideas and they were looking for some experience (as per the job description) and then a full year later, they ended up hiring two team members, I believe, and both were like 24 and had never had previous experience in that particular field. Now, I will concede that I don’t know. I don’t know what they knew, did, presented, were. They could have been (must have been?) phenomenal. But part of me thinks that my years of experience probably don’t mean anything in the face of vibrant youth– that the company would rather start from scratch with two whippersnappers than deal with an old (experienced) fuddy-duddy like me.
I talked to a career counselor earlier this week and she said that I had a negative script running through my head and that I’m trying to diagnose rejection (using generalizations) instead of just brushing them off and forging ahead. And I would agree with her. I am projecting a lot of insecurity onto situations and probably making myself more crazy than I am normally. So basically, I need to knock it off. But it’s hard b/c even if it’s not always true, it seems like it’s true at least some of the time.
So that’s it from me. Not older. More mature. Yeah. Yeah.