Last Week I saw a Humans of New York photo and caption that was shared and commented upon by NASA’s official Facebook account:
The young girl expressed interest in building a rocket ship to explore space, and the NASA account commented that she’s the right age to be part of one of the first manned missions to Mars. I don’t know the future and can’t say whether this girl will ever go into a career related to space, or if the comment impacted her as much as many of the readers. I stand by the comment that I made on the story:
If you are in a position to help and encourage others, it’s your duty to do so
Advantages Cannot Be Ignored
It’s easy to forget when you have specific advantages because you can point to all of the advantages that you don’t have. I didn’t go to an ivy league school, my parents aren’t wealthy, I have never lived in a tech hub, and I never had anyone to tutor me. That hasn’t stopped me from becoming a self-employed web developer, able to teach myself WordPress related development and in turn teach others.
There are advantages that I did have. My parents are tech savvy, and my father is an electrical engineer. We had a computer in my house for as long as I can remember, and an internet connection since before I turned six. We always had books, and my parents always had time to take me on regular trips to the bookstore and library. Both high schools that I went to offered programming courses, which I took every semester. I got a good scholarship to a great college and continued learning. I have just enough recklessness in me to consider self-employment a viable option, or at least a smart gamble.
I am definitely not a great developer, but I know more than enough to get by, and am constantly learning. More important, I know more than many others, and I feel that it’s a responsibility to help them when they ask and when I can provide. In turn, I continue to learn from others. It’s probably an oxymoron to describe my own humility, but I have enough of it to know that there’s always more rungs on the ladder, above and below. I have skills that others desperately want to learn for themselves.
One of the greatest things that you can do is encourage others. Tell them that they can do something, and truly mean it when you say it. The underdogs constantly defy expectations, as expectations are too easily built around assumptions. The resources exist, but the education and encouragement don’t always.
This little girl may have the kindest, most supportive parents in the world. Still, how cool is it to say “I want to do this” and have someone who has achieved that actively encourage you? What if that’s the trigger that leads to a life of study, a life of exploration, and eventually a life among the stars?
What if everyone encouraged those around them to succeed? What if we all taught our communities to strive for more? Seriously, how cool would that be?