Surrounded by people wearing zebra print outfits at a dance party on a Sunday morning, I was handed a card. No, it wasn’t Paul Allen’s card. It was a card with a message. A message that I had absolutely no intention of encountering that day. On one side of the card, (not the neon-disco patterned side), it read:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,
Or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
Whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly;
Who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;
but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions;
Who spends himself in a worthy cause;
Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
And who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,
So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
This program has been full of random moments of inspiration. In fact, I might have learned the most while I’ve least expected it – conversations with cab drivers through the city, taco truck lunches with co-workers, and late night excursions through Tenderloin, for example.
The Sunday morning dance party was a unique and wholly unexpected experience – something I’ve learned to value more while on this program. While Claremont’s campus, at times, can be predictable and repetitive, San Francisco has proven to be full of unknowns.
This semester I’ve come to appreciate uncertainty. “What am I going to do after college?”, “What am I passionate about?” , “What am I working towards?” – all questions that used to bother me (and admittedly, still do at times). But I think the Silicon Valley Program attracts people who are willing to go headfirst into an unknown situation, adapting to the challenges they face along the way. It teaches them to appreciate this uncertainty – to courageously embrace it. This kind of attitude largely defines Silicon Valley.
Looking back at the Sunday morning dance party, there was a lot of uncertainty: What kind of a club throws a Sunday morning dance party? Who are these people dressed as zebras? Why are they serving bloody marys at 9AM? Just how deep is this house? But after I read Theodore’s message, I knew there was just one thing to do: shut up and dance.
I was told to have a bias towards action during Freshman orientation. It took a while, but I think that lesson has finally set in. It took being in the “real world” for a semester full of uncertainty, and learning that embracing it gives you freedom. To quote Risky Business, admittedly a step down from Roosevelt, “saying “What the f***”, brings freedom. Freedom brings opportunity, opportunity makes your future.”
See you on the dance floor, Claremont.
Thomas Hague ’16
Claremont McKenna College
Intern, Kairos Society