it's time to change

I’ve decided that I had everything figured out as to what I wanted in life when I was fifteen years old.  As a teenager, I had really strong opinions on what I liked, and what I wanted to do with my life, and I was so sure that everything was gonna be so cool if I followed all that.  Then, as I was growing up, I deviated, and have made myself miserable since.

I’ve been doing a lot of re-examination in my life recently, and I’ve come to realize more and more than I honestly did have it figured out when I was younger.  Granted, I didn’t know the specifics of how to get there, or what I wanted in detail, but years of going the wrong way have taught me one thing continually: I don’t want to be where I’m at.

Lots of stuff has been going on for the past months, but in short summary, I’ve decided to actually start changing things and go the directions I want to go.  I got tired of talking about how it’d be nice to go one direction, and I’ve started actually doing it.  So far, it’s been making all the difference in the world, and has me more excited and interested in life and it’s possibilities again.  That’s something that has been totally lost to me for years.

One recent catalyst that has been helping me push along the way has been going back to school.  When I was younger, I *knew* for a fact, that I didn’t want to go into computers as a field.  People would always tell me that I should go into IT as a career field, since I was “so good at it.”  When I first went to college (the first couple of times), I didn’t have a clear vision of what it is I wanted to do.  So I set out there and pretty much took general education classes which were really boring, and not interesting and not getting me to where I wanted to go — whatever that was — fast enough.  As a result, I dropped out and just started working instead.  I never got a degree.

I bounced from job to job, just doing whatever seemed like a good or interesting fit at the time.  Eventually I did wind up in a computer programming job, and I got myself stuck there.  Well, not so much stuck as indifferent.  Things were “good enough,” and I slumped into a long, long spell of “meh.”  Life sucked, but I had a job that paid the bills, and so I lazily sailed from one company to another through the years, ignoring the fact that I wasn’t doing what I enjoyed.  I basically dulled myself with the fact that I could go home and do things that I enjoyed doing, and resigned myself to the fact that I’d never enjoy work very much, if at all, so to just kind of gloss over it all and stare at life through a bit of a hazed view.  Sleepwalking through life, going through the motions.  Pretty miserable stuff.  Never really knowing what I wanted, but knowing it wasn’t this, and too dulled from the experience of it all to bother looking.

Even though I was indifferent, I was always unhappy as well.  The desire to do something else never went away, and instead of focusing inward and trying to find what it was that was pushing me, I learned to just push back.  This has made my entire life just one unsatisfying moment from one day to the next.  The stress has been doing a lot of damage to my system, and it’s really taken the toll on me physically.

So, yah, that brings me to a few years later where I’m starting to finally get so tired of this lifestyle, that I’m ready to change things for good.  There were a lot of other, little events along the way that undoubtedly prepared me for these moments, and so I’m finally changing things around and starting to go into the direction I want to.

School is a major, major one for me.  I’ve known since I was much younger that I enjoyed working with people, and would get fascinated talking to them about their life situations and scenarios (not limited only to problems).  I would love to learn about different perspectives, and I would always get really caught up in drama of people’s lives — their challenges, their opinions, their experiences, how they make decisions, how they perceive things, and so on.  I still find it all fascinating.  How individuals evolve and develop  personalities and become who they are is really one of the mysteries I like to explore.

In one of my jaunts in school, I took an Introduction to Psychology course, and absolutely loved it.  I remember sitting in the class wide-eyed absorbing everything that was said.  What was really cool, though, is I just *got it* naturally.  All the explanation given in the textbook and the lectures were just rounding out the details, filling in the gaps of the things that I had figured out or already understood somehow.  It was really cool.  I aced the class without even having to put in any amount of effort.  I wish I would have clued in back then that that was what I wanted to do.  I was majoring in Computer Science, and when I couldn’t even get past the first programming class, I bailed on school again.

Going back to the university this last semester has opened my eyes a lot.  It’s been many years since I’ve been to school, but this time, I knew what I wanted to do, and that attitude changed the way I approached everything.  I’m studying psychology and sociology now, and I’m ramping up my school life so I can get back to something I enjoy.  Professionally, I’m still working with computers, but I’m phasing myself out of that field, which makes me totally ecstatic.

Here’s another major thing that has changed my perspective on things, which again makes me throw back my thoughts to my adolescent years when I had it all figured out.  I’ve been taking some career tests, personality tests, and interest inventory tests recently — some as part of a student workshop at school, and some through career counseling at school, and some on my own — and the results always match up the same, no matter what the test is.  They all agree that based on my background, interest, and personality type, that I’m totally geared for a career in behavioral therapy (being a counselor, etc.).  What’s totally taken me by surprise, though, is what field they also say I would really do well in, and enjoy: arts.

The whole angle on arts has me perplexed everytime I review it.  As I give it more thought, though, I can see it fitting more.  I’ve always loved creative writing.  I really enjoy music.  And I am totally visually oriented, and am very critical when it comes to how things are presented (you’d never guess that by the way I dress, though).  I’ve talked to a few friends about it, and they were also surprised by the idea that I might be a good fit for something along those lines, but they still tenatively agree that they could see that making sense at the same time.  I’m still curious about that one, myself.  I know I love writing, though, and I am very much into film and drama, so I’m going to start branching out in those areas a bit more as well.  Well, not so much branching out, as I will be just trying to figure out what it is I’m so interested in.

Writing seems to be the most obvious choice right now for me, though.  I’ve signed up for an English writing class next semester to see how that grabs my attention.  Looking back, though, I realize I’ve been enjoying writing all my life.  I have lots and lots of stories that I wrote in elementary school, and while they weren’t really all that *great*, I remember having a lot of fun doing them, and I’d write more when I had free time.

When I was a teenager, I got into writing poetry, and wrote a ton of those over the years.  They were really helpful for me, and I go back and I love looking at them.  It’s great to be able to see what I was going through, in retrospect, and that I could so accurately capture the essence of my emotions.  Almost all of them are incredibly depressing, but they are very descriptive.  Others would probably not clue in to what was going on, but it sure brings back a flood of memories to me, and I captured it well enough for me to remember at least.

I’ve thought about posting some of them online, and I probably will eventually.  In the meantime, here’s a link to one that was actually quite positive, and it’s one of my favorite ones anyway: One Last Time.  Part of me is a bit hesitant to put that out there, since I’m not a huge fan of negative criticism, but we’ll see.  I’d love to hear any thoughts on the matter.

I eventually moved on from poetry, and started writing really detailed journal entries instead.  Every once in a blue moon I get the urge to write a poem again, but the skill seems to have been lost a little bit.  I could see myself writing more stories, though.  Even when I tend to ramble on, my stream of conciousness dumps tend to take on a story form naturally, I’ve noticed.  Interesting, that.

So that pretty much leads me to where I am now.  I’m changing everything around, and I do mean everything.  I’m trying to mine my past memories and recall what it is I was so sure about those almost twenty years ago.  So far, only a few have come back to me.

One of them that I remember really well is that when I was older, I wanted to have my own small apartment that wasn’t flourid or frilly, but instead very minimal and practical, and I would spend all my free time just studying and improving upon my talents.  I don’t consider it a coincidence that that’s the direction my life has been slowly drifting towards in the past little while, as I start seeking out what I want.  The thought of doing that appeals to me rather strongly, and so that’s exactly what I’m gonna do.  I’m already looking for a new apartment where I can just get a small studio, throw together some beanbags and have a little library and just chill out and read books and write and study.

Another thing I remember that I wanted when I was younger was that I hated the idea of excess.  Again, I’ve let myself slip, but really, only just a little.  I have a lot of stuff, but I still try to take an approach where I don’t have too many strong interests going on.  So, I have a lot of a few things: movies, books, music, games.  I don’t branch out much more than that.  I’m still gonna get rid of a lot of my stuff, though, the things that I think are holding me back and keeping me from feeling like I’m in control a bit.  Again, it’s one of those things that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but never really had the energy or willpower to execute.

I’m still having trouble remembering some of the stuff from back then.  I do remember I hated the idea of driving around looking for a parking spot close to a store’s entrance when you could just park farther away and get some exercise.  I still hate that, thank goodness, so I haven’t totally cast off all my original goals.  That’s a good sign, at least.

So that’s the direction my life is moving: the one I want it to go into.  I can already say that I’m finding myself much less stressed, and in fact, actually having a lot of positive experiences on a regular basis.  I have to wonder if that’s what it’s like for most people.  I’ve been so accustomed to selling my dreams and goals short, that I’ve lost all touch with what it’s like to be alive and enjoy things.

I imagine I’m probably coming off sounding like a hippie or someone with a mid-life crisis, but that’s not the case at all.  It’s simply a matter of me realizing that I haven’t been pursuing what I want to do, when given the chance, and so now I’m aiming to fix that oversight.

As they say, slightly better times ahead.

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “it's time to change

  1. wonder weenie

    YAY! And what’s wrong with sounding hippie?? And, uh, hippie should not be used in the same sentence as “mid-life crisis,” either. :P

  2. Have you ever seen code as art? I know I put effort into making mine seem clean, elegant and even beautiful.

  3. Congrats & good on you for moving in a direction that provides but every needful thing, including happiness. :)

    KSL’s apartment search tool isn’t great, but it will let you search by max price and zip, and you can keep your search url and refresh it often. Also, the best ones often don’t have pics, because they’re snatched before the lister gets a chance to post photos, but google maps streetview can help. You can also use google maps to find zips in areas you want to check out. Good luck!

    • Huh. I always have difficulties picking apart D&C. But that scripture is interesting. If you look at the order the Lord puts the priorities of what type of house should be, one of prayer is the first consideration. Intresting stuff.

  4. This is great Steve. You sound very happy and positive, and I love that you are doing what you wanted for so ling. It takes alot of gourage to do that, and it tells me alot that you are willing to take the steps. I do agree with the counseling thing. I think you would do very well working with children or teenagers. Maybe Ocuupational Therapy. They use alot of art to help the kids. You are very quiet and have a very calming presence, I think you would do really well with that. Juat something to think about. You are a good writer, keep that up. Keep everyone updated….

    • Hey Shantel,

      Yah, I’m excited and very relieved at the same time that I’m finally going in the direction I’ve wanted to go all along. It’s a huge release of energy just from trying to avoid these directions to start with.

      Right now, I think that I wanna work with adolescents, but I’m not sure in what capacity or anything. I think I tend to relate and connect to them without too much effort, so that’s what I wanna see about.

      I’ll keep you posted. :)

  5. Steve,

    Truly, one of the best thing i’ve read all year.

    I’ve known several great teachers and writers who started in a different profession and evolved as they gained more experience; building on as they grew. I see this as no different.

    I’ve always admired these men, who, fight on and don’t quietly succumb to age and routine. It takes a lot of courage and faith to step out from what is known and pursue what you desire.

    v

  6. HarleyPig

    I’ve always felt that one of the reasons one went through a mid-life crisis was because they weren’t where they want to be, or should be. So perhaps this *is* a mid-life crisis. Just one with positive results.

  7. Yeah, everyone always focuses on “a house of order” but the very order used there says much to me, too. I want to make a poster about it.

    D&C is so full of instruction for individuals, it’s sometimes hard to see the instruction there for yourself, but when I ask beforehand, “What should I do?” … especially, “What should I do now?” I find answers.

  8. Greg

    “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.” – Thoreau

    A lot of people have to do what pays well (in your case computers) instead of something else they would choose to do that does not pay well because they can’t leave things alone and thereby run up bills (such as collecting lots of stuff, ahem) which remove their freedom to choose.

    I’m a big fan of your minimalist direction– less stuff = fewer bills = more freedom. Most people could live of their ebay sales for a year by selling their collections… The problem is I’ve seen people sell, then slowly collect stuff and run up bills again, thereby reducing their freedom. It requires a consistent commitment to Thoreau’s minimalism, or one just ends up in more debt in the end, less freedom. A propensity to buy is at odds with a propensity of free choice. Good luck, I’m all for it! does this mean I don’t have to get you anything for Christmas? :)

  9. Greg

    One other thing. I’m reading a book right now called “Drive: what motivates us”, by Daniel Pink. Studies show there’s not much distinction between work and play except one thing: we get paid for work. And once we get paid for something, we tend to enjoy it less intrinsically. I see that with you.
    Between that book and Talent is Overrated, another favorite, I’m coming to believe that we are not creatures born with gifts or desires that we are supposed to spend our lives discovering what’s hidden inside us, but rather we CHOOSE our desires and then our talents.
    You are taking those tests because you want to choose another career. You don’t need a test to tell you that. You know what you want, go do it! Congrats for having the courage to do so – work hard at it, and you will be successful.

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