To be alive. Not to simply exist, but to be free and in control. To be behind the wheel of my own future. To face the uncertain world and flip it off with complete confidence in self.
Over 3 months ago, I started this blog a different man. A man knowing that change had become desperately necessary. Things were not good. A miserable engineer. A desk monkey in debt and swimming in other issues. Reluctantly complying with and singing the ‘professional’ song, I was too close to cracking.
Today my bags are packed, my arms are outstretched, i’m smilling wide and i’m ready to run. The trail is fuzzy and uncertain, each decision a fork in my path. Each day a new opportunity for risk, a new chance to create something beautiful.
I have no idea who I am, but I am happy. I am my own man and the only person making decisions that effect my future. Tomorrow my world turns completely upside down. My old desk now belongs to another. Tomorrow I meet my new colleagues and drive up to Falls Creek (the snow).
We all need to worry less. Life is one big risk. It can and does all go to shit occasionally, but we only get to live it once. Whatever you want to do. Just go do it. Cut out the bullshit and get down to living.
My primary objective is now to live. I want to see and explore. Jump with both feet in the deep end and just see where I end up. Anything is possible. But we have to be prepared to take the risk.
My mind is in a strange place at the moment. At work (only 4 weeks left) i’m as depressed as I have ever been, though outside of work i’m getting close to being the happiest I have ever been. Every day I undergo a complete mental reversal at about 5:30. There is excitement brewing in me about what might be to come. There is also an anxiety eating at me about just how bad work might get during the next 4 weeks. The anxiety is very hard to overcome, whilst also being unnecessary. I recognise that my anxiety stems from a fear of what is in my short term future, whilst that in 4 and a half weeks I will be on Falls Creek without a care in the world. So why do I still feel anxious? why do I still have the urge to destroy all the things?
It seems reasonable that whilst in the midst of a hard time or a stressful situation one might become stressed or overwhelmed. Though to be stressed in anticipation of an upcoming event that may or may not be hard to deal with seems entirely unreasonable, and to only make the present, otherwise potentially pleasant moment, worse. So why feel anxious? Why whilst understanding that right now, whilst i’m not being persecuted or accused of some bullshit bureaucratic error, do I still feel so anxious about events which may not even occur. Further more, the events which may or may not occur depend entirely on my ability to output a sufficient amount of work. Though my anxiety about what may happen if I don’t get my work done is preventing me from completing my work. It’s all a vicious cycle of horrendous productivity. Perhaps a clear sign that I am not where I want to be.
I think subconsciously my anxiety is also a result of feeling that I am letting down my employer. I have a responsibility as an employee, that of late, I have not upheld. My first years as an engineer I produced, though at the time I was unsure how well I was doing, it is clear now that I was well over performing. It is a lie to say that I have enjoyed my time as an engineer though. I have resented (with perhaps the exception of the first 6 months) almost every moment I have spent behind a desk. It took some big mistakes and personal errors to realise that I was choosing to stay behind a desk, and that the feeling of entrapment was a result of being financially comfortable. Though now I am anxious, biting finger nails, feeling shit and wanting out. In 1 month, it will not matter what happens over the next 4 weeks. I will be out.
Here I sit, contemplating once again the larger purpose of my life. My desk is relatively clean, a few ‘important’ yet so distant pieces of paper scattered on its surface. The usual promise toying on my mind that everything I am currently working on must be completed by yesterday. There was a point in my professional life where the terms ‘important’, ‘quickly’, ‘urgently’ etcetera lost all meaning. When everything is always critical, and so much control is lost to unnecessary and underqualified authority, the will to excel diminishes.
As each day behind my desk has passed I have quietly, and sometimes very vocally and violently, observed my surroundings. I have tried to understand the overall goal of the profession I am working within and tried to understand the methods by which we aim to achieve our goals. We provide a service to a client, though the aim of our business has so obviously become making money as opposed to providing a brilliant service. Yes, every business needs to make money to maintain its service, though when so much of the focus diverges from the product and shifts to the amount that is being invoiced does not the quality of the product lose its value.
The core of any business is in the people that produce its product. It is critical to keep excellent people. It is critical to be able to motivate people and inspire them to output great work and it is critical to reward them appropriately. So how does an employer motivate employees? It seems that the all too common answer is to pay them a lot, though this hasn’t worked in my workplace, and my experience suggests that no matter how much someone is paid they only ever want to be paid more. It seems that income has little to no impact on attitude towards work.
I no longer have any pride in the work I output for my employer. I no longer have a sense of urgency no matter how much pressure is placed on me. I have become relatively calm as I have realized that at the end of the day, my effort and the quality of my work in no way distinguishes me from my peers. An employer needs to motivate employees by thinking outside of the box. Life is too short to continue working, providing a service, in a field I have no passion for because of a large pay cheque. We need to be proud of what we do day to day. We need to go home with a sense of achievement. Not a warning as to how much more we need to make, or invoice, for our employer.
Over three weeks ago I watched this TED talk which inspired me to think harder about some of the things in my life that I am grateful for. Three weeks ago when I first posted on the topic of gratefulness I found it quite difficult to come up with three things. Times have been dark lately. This time however it seems much easier. Things are looking up, more so every day, and as such I get to pick three things that stand out among a much longer list of things I am grateful for. So here it goes again.
Three (more) Things I Am Grateful For
1. The Snow
In just over a month now I make my way up to Falls Creek, where I get to stay for the entire Snow Season! This, coming from an 8:30 – 5:00 desk job nearly 2 hours travel from home is such an enormous and welcome change. The reality of the situation has not hit home, and likely wont until I get there. I get to spend every day outside on the snow and among people. Even if I am to work full time hours, I gain a minimum of 4 hours to myself everyday to have fun, be social and work on myself. I can’t wait.
Had I not failed, and fallen as far behind as I have, I may never had made the decision to escape the professional trap and start my life journey. Now, although I don’t know what comes after Falls Creek, I am determined to do everything in my power to really live my life. Because we only have one. Ask yourself, is your life boring? Or is it an adventure? I am also grateful for the debt I found myself in, which is now nearly gone. Having so much debt has really hammered home the value of money. Fact is the significant majority of mine has been spent on things that have actually been harmful to myself. Now I can really begin working on becoming a wealthy man.
3. My Education
We really are exceptionally privileged in Australia. It can be hard to understand when this is the only way we ever experience life. I have received a top notch (though it never seems so at the time) education. Now I also have further education in the form of real world experience. Although I am now choosing to leave the profession I educated for, I do not regret my schooling in it at all. Conversely, I found that University really taught me how to think for myself, and ask the right questions. When faced with something I do not understand, I have all the tools available to me to investigate and learn about the subject. It is no longer a matter of what can I do, but what do I want to do. I have the resources at my disposal to do anything.
Thankfully this wasn’t so hard this time. Next time, I expect it to be easier again. Next time I will be on my snowboard. Almost every day.
I seem to be laughing hysterically a lot at the moment, though there is certainly nothing funny going on. My mind is wandering, and toying dangerously with violence, constantly, and only barely, resisting the overwhelming desire to smash everything in sight. White walls, printers, computers, piles of paper and the urgent expectation that everything WILL be done TODAY!
Fuck. How many people are living like this? How many people have spent their whole lives in this type of environment? Every day has become a struggle for my sanity as my mind pushes me closer and closer to throwing my hands in the air, saying “fuck this place”, and just walking out. Perhaps it is only a respect for my superior that has held me here for this long.
But then I remember. I only have 26 more days behind a desk untill I undergo a complete change in direction. This is only the beginning. I have so much time left to find out who I really am, to discover where it is I want to be and to do everything in my power to get there. To say I have any idea where that is, is a lie. I only know that my current path is not working. Rather, it is turning me into a man I do not want to be. Full of hate and anger. A complicated shape, being forced into a perfectly circular slot. I do not fit here. This is not my life.
I thought that after getting the job on falls creek (the snow) I would calm down. That it would become easier to deal with what is left of my ‘professional’ desk job. But it Hasn’t. I’m stressing out, constantly. Though this is necessary. Life was not meant to be easy and if I am to get to where I want to be, I must make these decisions, I must endure hard times. How can we possibly know who we are without discovering first who we are not? I keep holding on to the fact that no matter how badly I am struggling at the moment (for reasons far above that which I can share publicly) that in just over a month I will be in a stress free environment, surrounded by people, in my demographic, at the snow, with my board, for an entire season.
Each step from now on will be forwards. No more backpedaling. I feel lucky that I have made so many big mistakes so early in my life, and am starting to come out on top, healthy and optimistic. Now I feel ready. Nothing can stop me now. Now I am ready to really live. If I can just resist the impulses in my head for a little while longer. Im so close to the starting line.
I don’t really know what to think at the moment. I’m happy. I’m excited. I have taken control of my life back and am on my way to somewhere I want to be. Though wherever that ultimately is I will only know on arrival.
I just had the call from Falls Creek (Snow in Australia), and in less then 2 months now, I can confirm, I will be on my way up to work for the whole snow season. This moment feels truly liberating. I have escaped the corporate world, likely never to return (as an employee at least), and have started my next phase. The phase were I really get to live my life.
I am no longer worried about my immediate future. I just need to continue existing as an engineer for another 50 days.
Yesterday I had my first job interview in over 3 years. The last time I had one it led to my ‘career job’…. That didn’t really go to plan though. In fact the whole concept of a career has basically been thrown out now.
As an adult with an education and some real world experience, the whole interview process was relatively stress free and could easily be approached with a relaxed attitude. In younger years we are unfortunately drilled about the difficulties of getting a job and subsequently (in my experience) we become very anxious and nervous. Our education tricks us in to thinking that “if this doesn’t work out, i’m doomed to fail”, and we hinge all our hopes on getting a job that we probably won’t like.
Every time I have attended a group interview, I am surprised by the attitude and approach of some people. During yesterdays interview there was only one such person (tough competition otherwise), however my experience suggests there are usually more. The individual I am referring to turned up rather unclean and wearing big bulky skate shoes and shorts. My first thought when faced with people like this is that they must attending the interview for their welfare payment, which is inconceivably pathetic in my eyes anyway, but this one was different. First impressions count. Though it seems many people don’t understand this. Fundamental to any interview is making sure you are clean, dressed appropriately (usually just slightly above what you believe the expectation to be), knowledgeable in the area you are applying for, well spoken, friendly and smiling. That some people manage to miss all of these things baffles me.
With the right attitude, especially in Australia, there is no limit to what anyone can do or achieve. We have too many options to choose from. So many of them have life changing possibilities. I might tend to quote macklemore a little too often. But I think his work is brilliant and his message is clear. So:
“We have many paths in this journey. They all act in different directions, so when you question don’t you worry. Theres not a wrong one, beauty can be found in all of them.” – Macklemore
So. Yolo. I really hope I get this job, but if I don’t, it’s ok. I refuse to take another job I don’t enjoy. If it doesn’t work out, I start my search for the next adventure. From now on I work for experience and to learn. Ultimately I think it’s a bit silly to rely on an employer for our long term security. However in the short term I can use a job to learn new skills whilst picking jobs that I actually enjoy.
So. I guess my humble words of wisdom are to find out first what it is you enjoy and then go and find out how to get paid doing it second. Things will not always go to plan, we will stuff up and fail. But don’t become stale. Don’t end up where you don’t want to be and afraid to change. This life is your responsibility. And don’t wear shorts to an interview.
Last night I was offered an interview with a company called Merlin Entertainment. Initially my application was placed with the dream of working a season on the snow at Falls Creek in Australia. Though now that I look a little deeper, I find that Merlin operates almost 100 (99 atm) attractions in 4 continents. Ideal much?
I don’t like getting too confident, because who knows, maybe they simply won’t like me. But it’s hard not to be excited, because I really would be perfect in a role like this and it ultimately aligns perfectly with my long term life goals. Plus, the only interview I ever attended which did not lead to employment was with subway. Apparently I’m not meant to be a sandwich artist (they probably made the right decision).
The voice in my head has been telling me for the better part of a decade now that I am meant to be an engineer. Thinking that was what I wanted, I chased it, and got it. Now I have been one. Whilst my biggest passion is for mathematics and the sciences (Puzzles!), it has dawned on me that I do not need to hold down an academic career in order to pursue these passions. It may even be true that holding down my current job is preventing me from truly pursuing these passions. Never again will I accept a job or stay in a job that I do not enjoy. There is always another option.
Another of my passions is people. I have underestimated and under appreciated the importance of people before and will not do so again. It is people that really fill the emptiness in us that we so desperately try and stuff with materialistic goods and perishables. Money didn’t solve anything for me and the stuff it bought now lays around useless. But the friends I forgot I had have always been there waiting. A conversation and a smile does more than any amount of money ever will.