Career

The Butterfly Effect and Your Career

A picture of a butterfly pin in front of a white backdrop

It’s a butterfly… get it?

Whenever something good comes out of an unrelated event, I’m filled with amazement and unease.

I’m amazed at the way unexpected conclusions and positive outcomes can be reaped from seemingly random events in an otherwise chaotic world. Often times, situations just fizzle out in predicable and direct ways. For example, you attend class, sit where you usually do, and then leave. But it’s always amazing when you attend class, sit in a different seat than usual, and end up becoming friends with someone you otherwise wouldn’t have had you not sat in that seat. This has happened to me four times since entering U of T. It’s the butterfly effect in action, you guys.

But I’m also filled with unease. What would have happened had I not taken that seat? Would something infinitely better have happened, or something tragically worse? There are so many possibilities and different outcomes—why did this one happen to transpire?

Anyway, I’m done waxing poetic. Two unexpected events happened recently, which really got me thinking about planned happenstance again, and the ways unrelated events can spur career opportunities.

I recently attended an event planning workshop, with the intention of exploring different skills related to different careers that I hadn’t previously considered going into. Before I get into the planned happenstance part of my learnings, I will say that I recommend getting out of your comfort zone and attending events or workshops you normally wouldn’t. Through the workshop, I strengthened my event planning skills and met different people I otherwise wouldn’t have. Plus, getting out of your comfort zone is good for your own personal development.

But back to planned happenstance. As previously mentioned, I attended the workshop for the sole purpose of attending. However, there were many different student leaders who attended the event that I ended up mingling with. I learned about different student groups that I had never heard of before, and networked and connected with some of them. My main learnings went far beyond just event planning skills.

More recently, I asked some of my friends a simple, throwaway question through text. They didn’t know the answer. The conversation should have ended there, right? Somehow, we ended up getting off topic, and came up with a cool project to start together. And none of this would have happened had I not asked a silly question.

I have mentioned this in so many of my blogs that you probably already know this by now, but I dislike uncertainty. I dislike not knowing what my career holds, and I dislike thinking about all the different outcomes that could have arisen from a single event.

But uncertainty is what makes career pathways exciting. I didn’t know I’d end up networking at a workshop I wouldn’t normally go to, and I didn’t know a simple exchange would lead to a new project idea.

It’s interesting to reflect upon just how many aspects of our lives were a result of chance. It’s kind of spooky. But then again, isn’t uncertainty what makes life interesting?

I’ve yet to come up with a conclusive answer to that last question, but I’ll let you know if I do.