Entitlement and Humility: A Lesson in Growth at 21

At the age of 21, I was finishing up college and felt on top of the world. I had always been a good student, heavily involved in extracurriculars, and I came from a supportive family. Somehow, these factors combined to brew a strong sense of entitlement in me. I felt that success was something I was owed rather than something to earn.

During the spring of my senior year, I applied for a highly competitive internship at a prestigious firm. I was confident, perhaps overly so, believing the position was practically mine before even walking into the interview. I spent more time visualizing my triumph than preparing for the actual questions. When the interview day arrived, my casual demeanor and lack of specific, thoughtful answers did not impress. The feedback was politely brutal—they expected a candidate who not only desired the position but who had also done their homework.

I was stunned when I didn’t get the internship. My initial reaction was resentment; didn’t they know who I was and all I had achieved? It took some painful self-reflection, conversations with mentors, and observing how my more humble peers approached their goals for me to realize that my attitude was the real issue. I expected things to come easily, based on past successes, without the continuous hard work and humility necessary in real-world scenarios.

The outcome was a summer without the prestigious internship, working a less glamorous job, which, in hindsight, offered me valuable lessons and grounded perspectives. The main lesson I learned was that entitlement can blind you to the need for ongoing effort and personal growth. You are not owed success; you must earn it every day through hard work, respect for others, and a willingness to learn and adapt.

This experience was pivotal. It shifted my approach to my career and personal interactions. I began to appreciate the journey and the grind, understanding that every opportunity is a privilege to earn, not a right to be expected.

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