You might say that I’m overanalyzing this but, please, hear me out.
I came across this three-and-a-half minute video featuring Jensen Kimmitt, the 2010 Yo-Yo World Champion.
The guy’s performance is absolutely jaw dropping, which I guess you would expect from someone who’s earned the title “world champion.” On the website where I first saw this, the only text that accompanied the video was: “This will look great on a college application, as long as he’s applying to a college run by seventh graders.”
There is a set assumptions embedded in this text that are common in our society—and those assumptions create expectations and pressures that, I believe, negatively affect all of us. Have you ever had a hobby or a personal passion that you never really gave yourself permission to fully enjoy? Maybe you feared that you’d get laughed at, or other people might judge you and say you’re wasting your time. Maybe you totally geek out with four or five Dungeons & Dragons friends, but you’d never dare tell anyone else about it.
I believe this happens all the time. It prevents so many of us from fully self-actualizing because we refuse to honor a very important part of who we are.
If schools aren’t actively discouraging kids from pursuing their passion—“Put away that yo-yo son, you’re never going to be a professional yo-yoer. Now open your textbook to chapter 7”—then they’re certainly not doing much to cultivate them. In addition, we establish institutions to house more than a thousand kids, and spend the majority of the day coercing them into doing things that don’t make sense to them. Of course they feel insecure. So, of course they’re going to hide away that personal passion that doesn’t automatically guarantee them prestige in the social hierarchy. If you stand out, there might be some other kid who deals with his insecurity by making fun of you.
In this video Jensen Kimmitt demonstrates creativity, skill, charisma, the ability to entertain a crowd, and perhaps most importantly, the dedication necessary to become great at something.
And did you see that smile at the end? He’s doing something he loves. If colleges—or the copywriter at some website—are not impressed, then that’s their loss.
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