There were two times in my life where I applied for a position I did not get due to my lack of qualifications. The first position was to be a member of a certain prestigious service club in my high school. It was during my junior year where my only concern was to pad my application for college with as many accolades to prove I was a well rounded student. I observed my peers and decided to add a service club to my list of attributes. So I researched and found the most glorified club to join and submitted my application. Once my application was accepted, I had to stand in front of the entire club and pass the interview. What could go wrong?
As I stood in front of that group, I realized I knew nothing about the club except they were considered the best club on campus. I didn’t know their motto, mission statement, or board members. I remember standing there and watching a couple of my classmates wince-smile at me as I made up answers to some basic questions. In the end, they had to pass on my membership. I was embaressed but relieved. I wasn’t qualified to be a member. Yes, I liked helping people, but being helpful is not a qualification to be a member of this club.
The second time was in college. New city, new crowd equaled new opportunities. One day my friend suggested we try out for cheerleaders. My school did not have any minorities on the squad, so we believed we could add some diversity. So we went to the initiation meeting and learned a routine we had to commit to memory. We both sat there and watched the squad demonstrate a rather bland routine that made us raise our eyebrows. Being dancers and choreographers, we both daydreamed about what we could offer to the squad once vetted. What could go wrong?
My friend, Lisa, went first. As I waited in the hallway, I heard the music and the applause. She came out sweating and smiling. She wished me luck as I walked in. The captain and co-captain sat at a table while a few members from the squad sat on the floor. I gave my name and signaled I was ready. As the music started, I shakily got through the first 8 counts of the routine before I started to freestyle. I was gyrating and high stepping across that room like Beyonce during a halftime show. I didn’t bother to memorize the routine because I didn’t care. I wasn’t bothered when I didn’t get a call back. Lisa got on the squad.
Looking back, I know when I’m not invested in obtaining a position, I don’t bother to put in the work to impress. Every job or position I have ever applied for with earnest, I have always made sure I was qualified and prepared for close scrutiny. As I watch the Senate hearings, I realize some people don’t hold those same values.