How I haven’t accomplished anything since graduating college and why I’m okay with it.

It’s been nearly a year since I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Game Design and I have nothing tangible to show for it other than a piece of paper, but I’m actually okay with it. Before I get into my great revelation, let me introduce myself since I’m sure none of you have ever heard of me.

I was born and raised in a small town near Houston, Texas almost 28 years ago. I can find passion in nearly anything, which I directly attribute to my loving parents who got me hooked on phonics in my younger days and taught me to find the good in everything. They didn’t wait for the school to teach me something they felt was important (I know more about the Runaway Scrape than 90% of anyone reading this). I could read, write and perform basic math before I was ever enrolled in kindergarten and subjected to the scholastic system.

I took to that system and was a damn good student until I reached high school where my inborn rebellion really began to shine through. I questioned everything, especially authority. I called teachers out when they were just plain wrong, I did just the opposite of what I was told, I cracked jokes, I was a little shit. I was a teenager.

But I was an Aries teenager who, in classic Arien style, took everything to the extreme. Well, I ended up doing some stupid shit and got kicked out of my local high school. I was sent to JJAEP or Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program. I didn’t feel like I should be there, that my crime was nowhere near the extremes of other students sentenced to this hell-hole, but I made the best of it and used it as an opportunity to learn.

I can honestly say that I didn’t learn anything new in terms of scholastic work while attending JJ. What I took away was less tangible like experiences and respect for others, even if they didn’t deserve the respect. The classes were nothing in comparison to the Advanced Education Programs I had been accustomed to in my hometown, so I aced every class with ease. Most of the teachers were just pushing an agenda while the sergeants kept everyone in line.

One instructor stood out to me, a Mr. Lindquist if memory serves, who really seemed to care about the students. He was the Language Arts teacher and he didn’t just peddle the usual grammar and spelling bullshit I tired of long ago. He really tried to make the students understand why language is an art and why we should use it as such. Robert Frost has never made as much sense as it did in that classroom.

I finished my time at JJ and returned to my high school but, because of scheduling differences in the two institutions, I essentially lost an entire year of schooling. I was facing five years of high school. I spent my mandatory four years in high school and decided enough was enough. I dropped out and got my GED right after my eighteenth birthday. I was done with school.

I spent the next five years just roaming around, never straying too far from home, going from one inconsequential job to the next, living on one friend’s couch or another. I had no real vision of who I was, what I wanted to do or where I was going. My rebelliousness subsided from Arien proportions to what I consider normal levels and I grew weary of having no path.

At 23 years old I enrolled in an online program at a school I had been interested in since before high school. I guess I wasn’t as done with school as I thought because I really enjoyed my time in college. I was a good student again and I learned a lot of things I never would have otherwise. I graduated and, for the first time in a long while, I knew what I wanted to accomplish. I had vision.

In fact, I had a lot of visions. Too many. It was hard to keep track of them as the world was my oyster and I was capable of anything I put my mind to doing. I’ve started more projects in the past ten months than I’ve ever attempted before and only a handful of them ever saw completion. Projects would gain traction, hit a roadblock and fall off. For the most part, everything I’ve done since graduating college has been a complete and utter failure.

And I’m totally okay with it. I’ve probably gained more experiences through my failures than anyone who sees success right out of school. I know what doesn’t work and why things fail. It’s great to know what works and why something produces success but you can become blind to what isn’t working, which can cause things to go downhill fast and cost you time.

Of all my failed projects, two key similarities stood out to me that directly influenced their fall:

Communication and Desire

Without both Communication and Desire a project is destined to go to hell. If a leader doesn’t communicate his vision, the team’s desire is going to deteriorate. If someone isn’t feeling the desire to work on a project, his communication will go to shit. If every party has all the desire in the world but the communication is shit, the project is doomed. The two are unavoidably connected.

I wouldn’t know this if I didn’t know failure so well. Even in my solo endeavors these two aspects were relevant. I would have the desire to do something, but I couldn’t quite communicate the vision to myself in order to get anything accomplished. So communicating with yourself in a realistic manner is just as important as having the desire to do something. Take notes when ideas come to you, write down lists that help you organize your thoughts, communicate with yourself.

I’ve done a lot of failing with nothing to show and I’m fine with it because I have learned what it takes to fail. I’ve learned what not to do and what should be avoided altogether. To me, this experience is more important than anything you can learn while winning because it makes you more self-aware of your strengths and weaknesses. It opened my mind to what I suck at and where I need improvement.