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.

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NO, NO, NO! WRONG!

Earlier this week I was listening to a Ted Talk on creativity, and how we are now living in a world where mistakes are stigmatized. We are taught that making a mistake is unacceptable and that we must do everything possible to avoid them. The talk (at 5:00 mins) gives an example of three children who were reenacting the nativity scene and were playing the three kings. The first child came forward and said “I bring you Gold”, the second came forward and said “I bring you Mare” and the third came forward and said “Frank sent this”. The third child clearly not understanding what Frankincense was, but the point rather is that, as a child, he was not afraid to have a go. He was not afraid of being wrong.

I feel that this is deeply true of my own life. As a child I can’t recall ever being anxious of making a mistake, though as a child I knew so little. Every day was a new adventure full of so much unknown. I can recall role playing with my friends, cops and robbers, or some other character based game making assumptions about the roles of the characters we played without a second thought as to the accuracy of our assumptions. We would make assumptions (without real world experience) about how it is really the lawyer who gets to kill the robber and how, no, the police man doesn’t drive the car, he has a driver! dah! Creativity ran wild in my mind as a child, yet now it seems to have largely faded away.

So what happened?

Unfortunately I think the answer is that I was put through the educational system. I don’t mean to undermine the importance of an education and of learning. But I am concerned that from as early as I can remember, my work was graded and compared against my peers, and no matter the difference in the students, we were all graded under the same system. No matter what the product, the teacher would rate it, C+, and then rank it against the rest of the class. Of course, the only way to do better was to make less mistakes. Soon enough, by making a mistake, I felt inadequate. But why is it wrong to make a mistake?

Up until year 10 at high school it’s fair to say I was a pathetic student. I got into fights, had several suspensions and countless detentions and received deplorable marks in most of my subjects. I remember being tested for ADD and being made to attend anger management lessons because “there was something wrong with me”. That’s bullshit. There was nothing wrong with me. I ended up doing incredibly well. Went on further to get Honors in Engineering at University and then held down a professional job for over three years (that I have now elected to leave). The problem was that my individuality was squandered, my creativity was stripped from me as I was forced to comply with a system that was not built for me. A system that I don’t believe even caters for the majority.

Only now that I have been through the whole system including the employment at the end am I really learning to appreciate the value of creativity. The value of having a go. The value of producing something original and not being concerned with its accuracy or whether people will like it or not. Just over a week ago I disconnected my blog from my Facebook. I could see that quite a few people from Facebook seemed to be reading my writings and it concerned me. But why? Because this is the way that we have been taught. What if someone doesn’t like what i’m writing? What if someone I know reads something about me that’s personal and starts talking about me? What if people laugh at me? What if i’m not good enough? Why do I care?

I am not ashamed of who I am. Or am I? If I am truly not ashamed of who I am, and who I am becoming, then why am I concerned about who reads what I write? Why do I write? The older I get, the more I realize that I don’t know very much about myself, or life, or the future, or anything. The more I learn the more I realize I just don’t know. Making mistakes is natural. I am not ashamed of my mistakes. We live and learn and we collect scars. I have a few scars now. Before I am done on Earth I will carry many. But in the process of getting my scars I am going to truly live.

Soooo. Quitting my professional Job…. Mistake? Maybe. But who cares! Time to tackle a new problem.