What A Difference 9 Months Makes – How Blogging Saved Me

I read a lot today. I read my own writing, from my first blog post up until now. In hindsight, I believe this blog saved me from a much darker fate. The act of putting something in writing for the world to see, be it an idea or a thought, an emotion or a desire has strengthened my will to achieve my dreams, and I am proud to say that since the time I started writing publicly, my life has completely changed for the better.

It was sad to read many of my posts. The first 3 months I spent blogging was a very bad time in my life, wrought with depression and other vices that were leading me down a rabbit hole I could not see a way out of. The truth of the matter is that I am usually not a very open person. I find it very difficult to confide in people, or even talk about my state in the simplest of terms. Yet in writing, I find myself telling the world, openly, all the things I cannot seem to tell even those people that are closest to me.

I read posts about freedom and failure, materialism and minimalism. I read about my plans to remove all of the clutter from my life and about the way I want to live. As of this moment I am happy with my life. I travel, I see, I do and I feel free. Since leaving Melbourne I have learned, and learned very quickly, just what is important in my life. I own less than I ever thought possible, yet find myself wanting nothing more than a new book occasionally, or a block of chocolate. I live well, I enjoy my work, I eat well and have good accommodation, and all for less than I could have ever imagined.

Perhaps the hardest hitting revelation I had in this process is recalling just how depressed I was in my ‘successful’ life. Were it not for me putting in writing many of my thoughts I would no longer remember just how much I hated my life. The depression I felt now seems so distant, and my blog serves as a reminder to me that my well being is in my own hands. My current situation is a direct effect of acknowledging that I was not happy and making the hard decisions necessary to change. It wasn’t easy. Much of the journey has not been easy. I have had several serious setbacks and many unexpected turns, but never lost sight of my goal. However, no matter how stressful, or how broke and hungry I may have found myself in the process, the depression that once gripped me has loosened its hold and no longer exists.

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My new beginnings End

It’s been a very long time since I added to my blog. I think the truth of it is that I only really started writing because I was miserable. My life was messy and becoming mixed up in the wrong things. I begin to write again now because my life has become interesting.

This time last year I was a ‘successful’ and ‘professional’ desk monkey. Time passed, yet I had ceased to grow. To many, my life may have seemed on track, as if I was achieving goals and advancing my career. Perhaps if I was someone else I would have agreed. But I am my own man, and have my own goals and desires that are not in line with the ‘norm’.

It’s been 9 months now since I threw in the Engineering profession. In this time everything has changed, I have successfully removed the shackles that people chain themselves with (all except my car) and I now lead a very simple and happy life. I have had more experiences and met more people in this short time than in the previous 4 years combined.

I lived and worked on the Snow in Victoria for 3.5 months. I traveled inland, to Mildura, and discovered first hand just how abhorrent my country treats travelers looking for their second year visas, and how widespread the exploitation is. I left my friends in Mildura and traveled solo to Adelaide with no plan, searching for something better. I lived in Port Adelaide for a few weeks, by the water with the dolphins and jellyfish, and then in the CBD, with the urban country folk, for a few more. I met many people and experienced Adelaide for what it is, however found nothing to make me stay. Only a girl with whom to go.

We drove west. With no real plan, we drove and stopped as we pleased and saw so much of Australia which I was before completely ignorant. The sand dunes, salt lakes, deserts, rock formations, the Bunda Cliffs, the wide variety of sea life and so much more, until we landed in Fremantle. As far west as anyone can get in this country. Here in Fremantle is where our journey takes its leave. But not the adventure. We traveled north to the Pinnacles and for snorkeling, we traveled south to Margaret River and a series of caves further south again. I found a job I enjoy, with a boss I respect and peers I enjoy the company of. I clean pools now, and live in my favorite place in Australia. For a while at least.

Who knows what comes next. For now I am happy and settled. In two weeks I travel to Bali and in 2 months, with the sad departure of my travel buddy, I take a trip to Thailand. What a journey it has been so far. One I will write about. In the hope that a few of you readers might follow my own steps, in your own way, and throw in your careers for an uncertain adventure. I wont be the one wishing I took that risk or did that thing when I lay on my death bed, and I hope you wont either.

I Want to be a Fire Truck

When I was a toddler I wanted to be a Fire Truck. Then when I was a little older, I wanted to be a Lawyer. Then when I was a bit older again I wanted to be a Cabinet Maker, then a rock star. Now i’m an Engineer.

Image Credit: bit.ly/1gKy8pG

Image Credit: bit.ly/1gKy8pG 

My point is that it always seems we should have some idea of the direction in which we want to/are meant to head. But really, we probably don’t. Ultimately the majority of us just fall into place, somewhere that our education has dictated we belong, or somewhere that our connections have placed us. We then just keep turning up. We stop asking questions. Wait for the next pay packet. Then figure out how to spend it.

I can’t accept this.

I overheard a conversation on the train this morning, on my way to my desk. A lady was telling her friend about how her child seems to have figured out what he wants to do with his life. He wants to be a physio because he is good at maths and sport. It seems to me that as adults we expect that our children should be making decisions so young as to what they want to do with the entirety of their lives, and that it is expected of them to do that thing they decide on so young, their entire life. We scare them into thinking that if they make the wrong decisions they will be stuffed.

Perhaps life is more about the journey than the destination. Perhaps we should concentrate on enjoying the right now than exposing ourselves to stressful and unenjoyable situations in search of some ultimate goal or job that we don’t know yet if we will even enjoy. The workforce is so far removed from the education system that we are simply not giving our youth realistic expectations.

I am no wise old Wizard. I’m just a young man, confused and lost, starting off on my pursuit of happiness. I feel though that my wisdom is growing. Money no longer controls my thoughts. Though money is necessary in this life, and I do aim to make my own, passion, people and love are taking over my mind.

If I could, and I hope I soon do, speak to the (ultra) young people (i’m still very young) currently going through school and being asked to make decisions for their future. I would tell them to do whatever it is that makes them happy, and do it better than anyone else. Choose subjects based on what you enjoy and not on what prerequisites a particular course at university might have. If you are doing classes that you don’t enjoy in order to get into a University course. You’re probably not going to enjoy the University course. Success is personal. If you’re measuring your success based on someone elses opinion of you, you’re doing it wrong.

So, really, the moral of my story is enjoy now. Now will never come again, and if you spend now worrying about then, when then comes, no doubt you will be worrying about the next then. Don’t get lazy, keep pushing forward, keep doing what you love, keep drawing, building, creating, writing, reading, traveling etc. If you’re not doing what you love, then you have simply not thought hard enough about how to get yourself there. In Australia, there is no excuse, everything you could possibly need is at your fingertips. Go out and get it. Quit complaining.

Btw, as of right now, I have:

  • 7.17 days;
  • 172.10 hours;
  • 10,326 minutes; or
  • 619,560 seconds left until I am no longer an engineer.

In one and a half weeks from now my life will be entirely different.

Corners, careers and a moment to hold on to

30 days now until I finish my engineering career. Less than a month. Wow. It has been an incredibly difficult year, but the next episode is only just around the corner.

My work ethic is pathetic (perhaps my fate is in poetry) at the moment. It’s not something I’m proud of. I feel terrible about my present performance. I need to be doing so much more so that I don’t leave problems behind me for someone else to deal with.

Looking at what needs to be done, it seems perfectly fair and reasonable. Without doubt it could all be achieved ahead of time. But I am not a robot. I am Matt. A big kid. When all passion is lost, all enthusiasm has been drained by a desk, the drive to achieve has been eliminated by the realization that hard work and crap work as an employee result in almost identical personal outcomes. The ability to sit and work crashes and burns.

It’s in times like these that I must hold on to the future. My time will come. It is only just around the corner. It is in one month now that rather than hold on to the future I will be holding myself in the present. The first sight of snow for the season. My first ride up a chair lift. The first run down a slope. Sunrise from a mountain top. ‘Hopefully’ a lady under my arm. Life on Falls Creek. My endless ‘now’ will be my moment to hold on to.

One more month. I need to subdue my overwhelming urge to scream, yell, smash and destroy shit for only one more month. My strength is in understanding that no matter the events of the next 30 days, soon I will be on the snow. The stresses of this life will come to pass. Soon.

What is success?

What is it that is really important in life? What is success?

Perhaps like me you have had a privileged childhood. I went to a public school in Australia doing very well in my final two years. At the time, as young kids, we were pressured in to believing that our performance at school would directly effect our ability to become successful in the future. All of high school became nothing more than a race to the highest possible final score for fear that otherwise we would be doomed to fail forever. The threat of not getting in to University loomed over our heads as if it were our direct path through the gates of hell.

I got the good grade, and took my express ticket to University excitedly, graduating 5 years later (with a gap year for travel) with a degree in Engineering with Honors. According to the ideals of my educators I was on the fast track to success, the golden child.

Straight out of University I got the Job. Immediately getting paid in excess of anything I had hoped for. 3 months later, pay rise. 9 months later, another pay rise and promotion. A year later, another pay rise and a merger which saw me take on a much larger role within a much bigger organisation. Three months ago, another offer for a much more sophisticated, senior and technical position. Great. Right? So why did I just resign?

If I could go back, I would not change a thing. I have gained invaluable experience and am more prepared than ever to now take on my life in the way that I deem it to be successful. It just so happens that my idea of success is not spending the majority of my life pushing around fancy paper from behind a desk.

Success is not defined by anyone but yourself. To me, success is a life of happiness, a life of experience and adventure, a life that can never (in my case at least) be achieved whilst holding down a full time career. Success to me is also (in part) in wealth. Though, contrary to what we are taught to believe, wealth is not found by working for an employer. True wealth is found in ideas, in believing that you have the ability to achieve whatever you want and then having the guts to go after it.

I only hope that I can help as many people as possible realise that you really can do/be whatever you want in life. Start now. Today. If you wait for your current distractions to end, others will just take their place. Take risks, jump in. When you fail, learn and try again. Keep trying again.

Any one of us can do anything. As long as you believe it.