Essays & Thoughts ~ Chris Lakin

2021 March #2

Hello! This edition of Essays and Thoughts contains old favorites, and thoughts on ‘unbounded opportunities’ (if you haven’t seen this already).


I’ve been thinking about a few essays recently:


On ‘Unbounded Opportunities’

Per the last two editions of Essays and Thoughts, I’m still thinking about an idea related to the idea in the essay Deviate.

There seem to be two types of opportunities: bounded, and unbounded.

Bounded opportunities have a capped maximum reward, and are commonly known to exist, highly competitive, and usually locked behind some kind of application process. Moreover, there’s usually some kind of ‘recipe’ for paths like this. E.g.: go to a prestigious school, study CS, do internships at large companies, get a software engineering job out of college.

Unbounded opportunities, however,  are unpredictable, unknown, and riskier, but more rewarding, more interesting, and more fun. There’s no recipe—and there’s hardly any planning that occurred in retrospect when these opportunities are found. (However, I do have some ideas for how to increase one’s luck in finding such opportunities.)

For example, a few months ago I started writing. Because of it, I’ve met many interesting people and made many close friends. (This is significant: I have a high preference for being alone and hadn’t before had more than one person I really enjoyed speaking to at the same time.) But before I started writing, I didn’t know anyone else who wrote. No one could’ve told me “Hey this is a productive activity, you should do this.” Instead, I just started writing, randomly and for fun. Writing was a portal that no one around me knew existed.

Similarly, I have a friend that got an internship at an organization—an organization which usually has highly competitive application processes—by liking all of the tweets from someone high up in the org. Eventually this person reached out, asked who my friend was, and ultimately offered them an internship. What? Meanwhile, if my friend had applied for this through an application form, they probably wouldn’t be the one doing the cool research they are now.

I’m looking for more examples of this. What were your portals? What ‘unbounded’ opportunities made a large positive difference in your life? Reply to this email and let me know. (I may ask to use your example in the essay I’m drafting.)

~ Chris