Friday, September 2, 2011

"You do not have the right to quit trying. (The universe wobbles when you do.) "

It's been a long time, but there's a reason for it as well. That reason? Simple; I had shit to do. But, shit's done, and I'm back. I'll explain in a moment. First: within the last three days, the congruence of three disparate things made me feel the need to spew forth with some blogging.

To start, a friend posted a link on Facebook to a WSJ article that revisited Steve Jobs' commencement speech at Stanford from 2005. I'd actually never read it before and if you haven't, you should as well. The next day, I had a great conversation with one of my students about how lost he was feeling in figuring out what to pursue after high school. It was one of those conversations that was only so great because he was in a place where he was really open to listening as well as talking. Sometimes with teenagers, they won't give you both. Go figure.

Lastly, and most profoundly for me, I had an awesome "talk" with a friend that took place in the form of a series of FB messages. A talk that was meant to help him, but really resonated with me. He was feeling at a loss for direction and motivation in his life and wanted advice - although he never really asked a question. I began with the idea that had sort of been at the crux of my conversation with my student, which, not so coincidentally, arose from the WSJ article - in thinking of the future, there are two things I think everyone should consider: What am I good at? And, more importantly, what makes me happy? Because here's why: somewhere, somehow, those two things intersect. What you're good at meets up with what makes you happy, and that? Somewhere in there? That's where your future lies. There's a career there, there's a destination, and there's purpose. It's not always easy to find but it exists.

For me, I chose a path through college based on what I thought I was good at. And, with a few minor tweaks along the way, I followed that path right through college and on to a career that I enjoyed. I don't regret that path and I learned a lot about myself - both during that career and in hindsight. However, I can see now that, though I was very good at what I did, I was never truly great. And while I enjoyed it immensely, I never really loved it in a way that was personally rewarding. As a counselor? I am great. Something in me shines and keeps me going, even through bad days and missteps and disappointments. It's personally rewarding. What makes me happy is dynamic personal relationships. Where that intersected with what I'm good at? I found counseling.

And I love what I do - as much as I may bitch about it at times.

This summer, I had to complete 36 credits of post-grad professional development courses. Before you get all impressed, please know - they were 36 credits of busy work and bullshit. But finishing them or not finishing them meant the difference between making more money and being reimbursed the $3000 I spent for the classes, or losing the $3000 and not getting a raise for the next year. Crazy thing was, the money wasn't a motivator for me to get them done - money, while necessary, has never been a great motivator for me. Hell, I wouldn't be working in education if it was that important to me. So, I had to find different motivation.

I decided to shut down my Facebook account (and not blog) until I took care of what needed to get done. I took a lot of shit for this. First, in the form of, "are you so addicted to FB that you can't pull yourself away to do your work??" (answer: um, no.) Then, in the form of, "I feel like I don't know what's going on your life now..." (hmm, fuck you for your mockage then, how about that?) I took away FB because it took away something that was important to me - my connection to the *people* who are important to me. I'm motivated by the relationships and people in my life.

(and just so we're clear? I took those courses and kicked their collective ass.)

And now, I'm back.

(see how that came full circle?)

But seriously, do yourself a favor. Figure out where your talent intersects with your joy. Figure out how far you are from that intersection. And if need be? Find a path to get there. If that intersection shifts? Don't be afraid to change your course. Don't ever feel stuck or bound to one path - forge a whole new one if you must. It's never too late. And go back to read the Steve Jobs article. (It doesn't seem fair that someone so otherwise talented and successful would also get to be so articulate, but cancer isn't fair either, so I'll make allowances.)

I've missed you though. And I promise to try harder with this relationship. Because it's important to me.

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