According to Ayurveda, a traditional medicinal practice of Indian origin, we must taste every flavor in order to be fully nourished. The 6 tastes, or Rasas, include: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent and each is equally important in maintaining a balanced palate and good health. Although each has important nutritional value, Ayurveda believes tasting only one Rasa will leave us unbalanced and unhealthy. We must experience multiple flavors to enrich our lives.
“We must experience multiple flavors to enrich our lives”
During my Freshman year of college, the best Professor I’ve ever had told me not to decide on my major yet. I was determined to major in Communications and nothing could convince me otherwise. Being the organized and efficient person I am, I wanted to embark on a curriculum that would get me to my major as soon as possible with no deviations in my path. However, my professor was just about as stubborn as I was and so I took his advice and began to explore. I took classes on cuisine and culture, race, language, finance and by the time I graduated I’d taken nearly every business and mathematics class my university offered. Yes I still completed my major in a timely manner and no I never switched or even once considered it but what I gained by experimenting with all of those random courses was perspective. This perspective enriched my major far more than if I’d stayed the course my mathematical brain originally mapped out.
Fast forward 4 years… I’m an international magna cum laude graduate that can’t get the job she wants. Like all of my fellow 20 somethings, I spend my days working at a job that pays the bills and my nights side hustling working for a small business that can’t pay me but let’s me practice what I truly want to do. I graduated top of my class with a 3.9 GPA and a fluency in Italian. I traveled to over 15 countries, planned numerous international conferences and succeeded in all my endeavors yet still find myself struggling to convince employers that I’m a “good fit” for their company. The main reason I can’t land a job? I don’t have enough “experience.”
Major companies like Nike can require as much as 8 years of “experience” in a specific field before they even take a second look at your resume. What does this mean for full time students who’ve graduated thousands of dollars in debt looking for a job? They can’t get one because they’ve spent the last 4 years studying to be given the opportunity to gain “experience”.
“How does one begin to measure ‘experience’? By years? By places? By actions?”
A Hiring Manager’s definition of “experience” and my definition must deviate immensely. How could someone say I don’t have enough experience when I’ve spent the last 4 years of my life experiencing all of the world’s flavors in the deepest possible way? If that’s not experience, what have I been doing with my life? Would it have been better for me to sit at the same computer desk for 8 years doing the exact same thing? Does that somehow make me more qualified?
How does one begin to measure “experience”? By years? By places? By actions? Can experience be quantitative? Perhaps this is where the difference in definition lies; I measure experience qualitatively. Just as Ayurvedan philosophy suggests, my life has been enriched by the variety of experiences I’ve had. Traveling allows me to taste new flavors and assign a greater sense of balance to my life. My experiences in each place and each position may not have lasted long (certainly not 8 years) but each has changed me and the way I see and react to problems.
“Just because someone had the opportunity to experience a lot in a short amount of time doesn’t make them distracted — it makes them balanced.”
Often times those who travel are seen as unfocused and flighty — a liability. I would argue the opposite. Just because someone had the opportunity to experience a lot in a short amount of time doesn’t make them distracted- it makes them balanced. Those who travel live intentionally; they embark on journeys to taste all the flavors of the world and by so doing gain perspective. This perspective comes with a knowledge of what the world has to offer and how that fits with one’s true desires. People with occupational “experience” often lack this balance and connection with their intention. Expertise can breed rigidity (because someone has done the same thing for 8 years, they’re not open to new ways of doing it) whereas balance breeds perspective (new solutions to old problems).
To the Hiring Managers: If balance enriches our personal lives, why can’t it enrich our companies too? A balanced team focused on a common intention would have far more perspective than a group of people who’ve done the same thing for 8 years. So next time you’re looking at those resumes, think less about quantitative experience and more about qualitative.
To the 20 somethings: Don’t give up the opportunity to taste life simply to gain quantitative “experience”. You’ll find balance that will ground you deeper in your true intentions. Always remember you must taste all the flavors to live an enriched life.