Meritocracy (HA Day 10)

I am a firm believer in the idea of a meritocracy. A world where people are valued by their accomplishments. And as much as I would like to think that that world is possible, I have no idea about how that would now come about. At this point and time, it competence is simply what gets you in the door. And sometimes, it isn’t even enough to do that much. We live in a world where it is almost more important who you know than what you know. And I have no idea how that can change. Or even if it will change. I’ll be the first to admit that I have benefited from the happenstance of knowing the right person in an incredible number of ways. Even some of the things that I have gained off of my own achievements have a certain degree of knowing the right person. I got into Venture for America based off of my own achievements, but I wouldn’t be at the Downtown Project if it weren’t for a couple of serendipitous collisions.

I’m not under the delusion that competence is everything, but I do think that the element of knowing the right people puts certain people at a disadvantage. And that bugs the crap out of me. It is one of those things that I can’t change, but I guess it boils back down to what I do with the opportunities that I gain. Do I take them and exploit them for personal gain, or do I do what I can to create opportunities for myself and others. Thankfully VFA already told me what to do.

Experience of the day:
Hearing Al Franken speak. His talk didn’t start on time, he was not prepared (aka he was told he was giving a presentation an hour before he did), and he was rushed. But it was great to hear a politician speak frankly about his own experiences, his lack of expertise, and laugh at himself in the process. One thing he did touch on was how his experience with writing for SNL was valuable because it gave him a different way of thinking. Group think can often be a huge trap and I think DC is a perfect example of it.

What I’m thankful for:
1) My health. I might weigh a few more pounds than I would like (which I am working on changing), but by and large, I am healthy. And that is something so many people either take for granted or can’t say about themselves.
2) My employment. Maybe it was a bit arrogant of me, but I don’t think that I ever considered the possibility of being unemployed. Not only am I employed, in so many ways, I might have stumbled upon my dream job without even realizing it.
3) My family. I’ll be the first to admit that I often take my family for granted. And I really shouldn’t. Still not sure how to change that, but maybe it will change over time. But I do have two amazing parents and two awesome siblings. I’m not even going to try and do the tallies for my extended family because for Indians the line between friends and family is often blurry, if existent at all, but I am really lucky to have that kind of connectivity.
4) My opportunities. Not too many people can say that they have had the chance to work on something truly unique. I’m doing two things that are, being a part of the Inaugural class of Venture for America Fellows and working for the Downtown Project. Yes, this is similar to number 2, but it is different.
5) My fellow Fellows (NC and VFA). I’ve had great experiences of the last four years with Fellows in different contexts, and they have been great to the point that I am determined to find a group of Fellows where ever I go from this point onward.
6) Sort of related to the above, but sometimes distinct, my friends. As much as I say that I would be perfectly happy to go live in a cave by myself for a year (I still maintain I would be!), I have been incredibly fortunate to find myself in contact with the motley mixture of humanity that is my friend group. I don’t know if there is any common characteristic that is common for all of them, and I kind of like it that way.
7) Having the resources and opportunities to travel. Life would be a lot more boring with out them.
8) Having a place to stay in Las Vegas. There aren’t too many options in Downtown right now, and I’m glad to be in the nicest affordable one.
9) Mangoes. Right now, I have fresh mangoes, mango lemonade, mango juice, and mango pulp in my fridge. No shame.
10) Watermelon. I seriously ate about slightly less than a quarter of a large watermelon for dinner. Don’t judge.
11) The internet. I hate it sometimes because of how much of a time suck people allow it to be, but at the same time, it does so many wonderful things. I think of the great power/great responsibility quote.
12) Great teachers. I haven’t really thought about it before, but I have had some pretty amazing teachers over the course of my life, not just the ones that I have had in high school and in college. The value of a great teacher cannot be underestimated and is often undervalued.
13) Having the resources to move my life across the country. Not many people can do that.
14) New people to have good conversations with. I still consider myself an introvert. But I do love getting to know new people Now if only I were better with names…
15) The US Men’s National team finally beating Mexico in Mexico. Now if only I had been able to see that game.
16) Community dinners. Something so much fun about bringing together a group of people for a collaborative dinner and good conversation
17) My mobility. Having a car. But also having the ability to walk and take it for granted. For some people, getting around is a lot more difficult.
18) Smartphone! Finally got one on Saturday. I haven’t become a total addict, and hopefully I won’t. But it is so nice to have greater access to everything. Despite the fact that Siri doesn’t like me and my network access is sometimes a bit wonky.
19) New experiences. I hope they never stop.
20) Coffee. Caffeine doesn’t effect me (unfortunately) but I do love having coffee in the morning time.
21) Optimism. I might be young and naive, but I am endlessly optimistic, (despite being a self-professed cynical optimist, and yes I know that is contradictory).
22) Grocery shopping. Maybe a weird thing to put on the list, but access to fresh food is something that a lot of people I know take for granted. Even if a distressing number don’t take advantage of that.
23) Frisbee! So happy I managed to find people to play with in Las Vegas.
24) Old movies with no special effects that are still amazing.
25) Random acts of kindness from strangers.
26) Work days that start late because the entire company was out until midnight on a Sunday night.
27) Dancing on top of the Dancetronauts mobile with some good friends.
28) The views in Las Vegas. It is a great feeling to be able to look around and see the sky everywhere and to be surrounded by mountains.
29) Waging war with the social construct that is awkwardness. Makes life much easier for me.
30) Having conversations with strangers and finding ridiculous amounts of things in common.


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