If Twitter has shown me one thing, it is that there a lot of people, even just in my hometown of Columbus, OH, that are out there doing the things that they are truly passionate about. I have developed, at least on the surface, what appeared to be a sense of complete and utter jealousy towards these people. Interestingly, I find that jealousy and respect can often be the same thing. These individuals are living their lives by their own rules and doing what they truly love. This is what I want for myself and I am determined to find a way to get there.
Ask yourself this. What are you truly passionate about? What is the one thing that you would rather be doing right now? If you know the answer to this question then you are already one step ahead of everyone else that still does not know. I can not say for sure whether I know for certain where my passion lies, but I know for certain that it does not lie where my commute takes me every weekday. I like many of you probably went to college with some semblance of a plan. Many people can also probably trace back their current state in life to one defining moment that every college student must undertake. I am of course speaking about the day you pick your major. Especially in retrospect, the very idea of asking someone who is barely 20 years old to decide in what field they are likely going to spend most of their professional working life is a daunting assignment indeed. I know that I went into my undergraduate career at my small Midwestern liberal arts college thinking that I would be a political science major and then go to law school. One event sent that plan up in smoke. The outcome of the 2004 Presidential Election single handily soured my desire to learn about politics for even another day. I will spare you a rant on my political beliefs at this time, but I trace that fateful November night as the one that set me on my current course.
At that point I was almost through the first semester of my sophomore year. The time was fast approaching for me to decide what I wanted my major to be, and since I knew my parents would be none-to-thrilled, or for that matter willing to pay for, a victory lap (this being the euphemism many of us used to describe a 5th year of undergrad) that I had to make a decision fast. Having personally set fire to the plan for my life that I initially came to school with, I knew that I had to think fast or that victory lap was going to be more and more likely. It was at this point that I know realize where my mistake truly lay. I was in an introductory financial accounting course at the time and many of my friends told me that our Management program (what most schools would simply call a business program) was a relative cakewalk that most importantly had good potential to turn into a job at the end of it all. This was immediately attractive because my priorities during my college days were simple; pick a major that will get you a job while simultaneously doing as little work as possible and partying as many nights during the week as my schedule and my wallet would allow. If I were to go back and do it again I honestly don’t know if I would change much about that philosophy. Knowing what I knew then, it all seemed like a great plan.
My accounting professor, who was also my adviser, laid it out plain and simple for us; graduate, go to graduate school for a Masters of Accounting (ideally at Ohio State, which I did) and get a job at a Big 4 accounting firm (which I also did). It all seemed so simple and all the business magazines raved about how being an accountant, especially a Big 4 accountant, was a great career and was going to take you places. Suffice to say once the afterglow of my first few months of working at a Big 4 firm (which shall remain nameless, although those of you who know me know exactly which one it was) had worn off, I knew I wanted out. I could easily write a pretty scathing piece about the things about Big 4 accounting that I disagree with, but that’s not the point. The point is that I knew it was not the place for me, so I went and did what most would do in that same situation, find another job that matches my skills. The job that I found (my current one) is certainly better in many ways. As an example, I think if you had asked me to come home and spend what precious little free time I had under my old job writing this blog, I would have said you were crazy. As much as I like certain aspects of my current job, the thought of doing it for the rest of my life is completely repugnant to me. I guess I am somewhat fortunate that I have realized this now, at 25, rather than a decade from now when changing course would seem like a herculean task. To spell out my current feelings as succinctly as possible; if I am still a tax accountant when I am 30 then I have failed myself.
If you are still reading this then you must be asking what it is that I want to do instead? If you were to ask my friends how I spent most of my time, they would have a very short list of answers for you. That list would likely include wasting time on the internet through any number of means (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc…). I firmly believe that Facebook and more recently Twitter are two of the most important communication tools to be developed in recent memory. Put them right up there next to the moveable type printing press, the telegraph, and the cellular phone. If one thing is apparent to me, it is that the future of basically everything we do is in someway going to be influenced by the internet and the capabilities it grants us. The most important of these capabilities is the ability to communicate. The fact that I can get news, and more importantly comment on it, anywhere in the world thanks to my phone with my social media app of choice is nothing short of a miracle. My Blackberry has more computing power than the capsule that took Neil Armstrong to the moon. If you could take one thing back in time 40 yrs to show someone with the goal of truly astounding them, what would it be? Personally I would take an iPod back. Imagine explaining to someone who has only known LP’s that a device that can hold literally days worth of music in the palm of your hand would be possible in the future.
I want to be on that cutting edge and I want to create. That is one of the true beauties of our current digital age. Tools exist that allow anyone with a computer to add to the public consciousness. What do I want to add? At this point I can’t say with much confidence, but I aim to find out. Getting into web design, or design in general has crossed my mind. I have some books coming from Amazon (hopefully showing up on my doorstep soon) about these topics so I can investigate whether any of these are something that I can be passionate about. I acknowledge that this is not going to be an easy process and that the answer is not simply going to fall into my lap. Even once I find the answer, I know that work is going to be required. I am however comforted by this fact. If its something I am passionate about, then I’m not going to think of it as work. I want to be able to wake up every day and not dread going to work. Whether its working for myself or for a company, I want to be happy with what I’m doing. I admit that this all probably comes across as lofty and idyllic, but that is somewhat the point. I will be leaning heavily on my friends during this process. I know that without them I would not be who I am today and I know that a lot of them know plenty of things that I don’t. There is only one way to tackle this sort of plan, with eyes wide open, willing to accept help from wherever I can find it, and with the desire to learn all I can.
If you managed to make it this far I applaud you. I hope that some of what I have said has at least caused you to think a little bit about your own life and to ask if you are happy. Do whatever it takes to get where you want to be in life. We are only getting older and I certainly don’t plan on wasting anymore time. If you’ve undergone a similar experience to what I am describing I would be grateful for any advice you can provide. Until next time…..