Risk it for the biscuit
School, from the many years of my life, has trained me to be obedient. Raise your hand if you have a question. Wait for the bell to eat lunch. Ask for a pass to go to the bathroom. There’s reason for structure and control - it allows a handful of teachers and faculty to manage hundreds of students for most of the hours of the day. Like many others, these small habits slowly built into my lifestyle. I’ve lived by the phrase “better safe than sorry,” and learned to ask permission before acting on my own.
However, so many of GCIL experiences have surprised me. The first time was when Sophie stopped at a fruit stand during a class hike. My first reaction was “Wow, can she do that?” “Can I do that too?” It was then that I realized my fellow classmates had already outgrown the asking phase and had moved on to doing. We’re adults now, even though for me it still doesn’t feel like it. Later, when talking to Suki about her thoughts from the caste and sanitation presentation, she told me that she wanted to do something to help. Initially, she wanted to create safety gear for them to wear during their dangerous work. Although I was both impressed and curious, I immediately had two concerns. The first was: Can we do that?” in the sense that would we be allowed to? Would it be approved and supported by our mentors and teachers in GCIL? The second was “Can we do that?” in the sense that would we be physically able to? Is it a feasible idea to create with the given resources, time, and knowledge we have shared between all of us? However, I found that her confidence was contagious and, before I knew it, we were proposing our new 2-hour design challenge idea to Julian. I didn’t expect him to reject it, given his entrepreneurship spirit, but I didn’t expect him to encourage a full-day hackathon either. The unconditional support he gave us made me realize that I’ve got it all backwards. I had gotten so tired of asking questions and being denied that I had stopped all-together. I had settled for "just getting by” instead of working hard for the things I want to happen.
A business teacher of mine once told me: entrepreneurs don't ask for permission. They don't wait for a sign from the universe. Instead, they take action. They take risks. They fail, they succeed, and they fail again. And they’re ok with it. Better yet, they enjoy it.