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September 08, 2009


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There's some good advice out there on the internet, but she calls it "being brave" instead of "courage"


I think confidence plays a big role. Confidence and preparation, separating brave from stupid.

It's brave to prepare yourself -- support systems in place (friends, savings?) and knowledge in hand (skills, education) -- and then take a risk. I think most of what people need to be brave is a reminder of how much they have - to realize that they are prepared to take that risk, however it may turn out. And a reminder that there's risk in taking that other path, too - or standing still. It's easy to forget what you're risking by taking the "easy" route, because it can be so full of external praise or expectation.

Oddly, perhaps, I think this is where good lawyer skills help. Being able to suss out the risk in different settings, seeing the risk of both action and inaction, and then forcing (and recognizing either route) as a decision. There's so much "act or failure to act..." in the law, it really can be a good metaphor for jumping off.

Tell them to read this one, too, and think about who they are, and how they approach risks - and how their parts will feel about it.

It's why you must be so good at your job now. Being able to see risk now vs. risk then, to understand who they - the college graduating risk-taker is, and so forth.


I agree that many people fear uncertainty. Regarding career decisions, when I realised 1) I could live on not very much money and 2) I could almost certainly get a job (flipping burgers if necessary) I realised there wasn't much to be afraid of.

Noel got it. I am definitely one of those people who doesn't do well with uncertainty -- I was really anxious during my senior year after I got rejected by Teach for America, because it had completely messed up my tidy little plans: graduate, do TFA for 2 years while I took the LSAT and applied to law school, go to law school, get a legal job (preferably in academia or government). After the rejection, I didn't know what to do. I applied for a few nonprofit and governments jobs (PIRG, Bureau of Labor Statistics) and my economics of welfare reform prof nudged me into an interview with an HMO, which is the job I ended up taking, mostly because the idea of living on $18k in San Francisco in the early 2000s (the offer from BLS) was a little too scary.

But I know people who will just move to a city and enroll at a temp agency while they search for the job they really want. I am not sure what it takes to have that confidence. It seems in some cases to have something to do with having already had a variety of past experiences even before going to college.

I am working on feeling confident enough to unclench my fingers from around what I already have in order to reach for something else. That's really the hardest, because when someone cut me off, I no longer had a choice: I had to figure out my next step. If I can stay comfortable on this step... much more difficult to leave it voluntarily.

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