As usual, it’s hard to believe another year has come and gone. Unlike past years, I feel more accomplished. I took some leaps of faith this year and have to admit, those were the best moments of my life. Here are a few lessons I learned throughout the year.
I Graduated College
As a student I was too protected. If I messed up I could retake the class. If I didn’t have much money, I could get student loans. If I didn’t want to work on a team project, I could have someone on my team who was more driven do my part for me if I procrastinated enough. I had parents who were always willing to buy me food and clothes when I came home to visit. Worst case scenario? I could fail out and live with my parents. There was nothing to be afraid of, and yet, because there was no challenge, nothing at risk, I was more depressed than I had ever been in my life.
Even now, I’m too protected. The experience of college wasn’t what I wanted. I didn’t fit in. Against better judgement, I stayed. I didn’t want to feel rejected by parents and family for dropping out. I regret not taking the jump and quitting. Everything is 20/20 in retrospect. Things would have worked out had I quit college, but in the moment there is always so much uncertainty.
I learned that lesson the hard way. Through the worrying and depression, I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I need a constant challenge. I learned that I absolutely love writing (I may not be good at it yet, but at least I enjoy it). Sure, I got a degree and met a handful of great people who I will always consider friends, but I didn’t have the experience I had expected.
The best part about it? I realized that if I don’t truly enjoy what I’m doing, it’s not worth my time. Life is too short to do things you hate. Instead of telling everyone “I’ll be happy in X years when I can get such and such job” I have it right now.
This is different for everyone, of course. Not everyone enjoys risk the same way. Some people love being comfortable and I respect that. The important part is to learn who you are. Embrace it. Then find ways to improve yourself.
Got A Job I Love
People have asked me how I liked my new job. I get to build web apps every day, something I’ve dreamed of for quite a while. Often I’ll respond with “I haven’t worked a day since I started.” They are sometimes confused by that response. But why? Aren’t they doing something they absolutely love? Sadly, most of them are not. They are stuck in the system, and sadly, some of them may never realize they can break out of this rut.
The “system” that we have to follow? Turns out it’s all bullshit. 1) Go to college 2) Get a job 3) Save some money 4) ???? 5) Finally go enjoy life
Steve Jobs put it best:
So ask yourself, are you doing what you love? If you say “Well I’m just doing this until…” then YOU are caught in the system. Think about it. Do some soul searching. You only have a few years on this planet. Make the most of it.
Formed Good Habits
This year, as I began to better understand myself, I decided it would be good to start picking up some better habits. Every morning I do a set of pushups and sit-ups. Every night I read a couple chapters of a book. Not blogs. A book. Something that went through editing several times. Something more than just a late night rant on a blog somewhere.
And then it all stopped. I went home for the weekend and broke my habit. It’s a dreadful feeling. I was doing so good, and yet, getting backup on the horse seems so hard again. Guess what? It’s not. Just like the pomodoro technique, you’ve just got to try again. It’s not as hard as you think. Your mind likes to play tricks on you. Things seem worse than they really are. It makes you think that picking up a book every night is hard for some reason.
Start a new habit. You know it’s good for you, so don’t break that habit. No. matter. what. Eventually it will become routine and you will feel weird not doing it. The best things in life aren’t always easy. Sometimes it takes a lot of hard work and determination. Your mind is the problem with these things. Know that you can conquer it.
The Flinch is a really good book about pushing your boundaries and doing the things you know you should be doing. Read it several times if you have to. There is no reason that you can’t become the person you want to be. It’s all in your head.
Over the past year, I think the majority of what I learned was who I am as a person. I have plenty of flaws. I’m not perfect. The best realization I had this year was exactly that. I’m not perfect, but I can now be conscious of that. I can fix my flaws. I can improve myself. Nothing says I have to continue being “who I am.” No. I can challenge myself. I’ll never stop learning, but what I will stop doing is things I don’t enjoy. There’s not enough time for that. I don’t have to follow the system. It’s just there as a guideline.
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“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Steve Jobs