Lost In Translation

Picture yourself on a boat in the middle of nowhere, and there’s a storm bristling through, cutting into your very skin, as you hope the boat will some how sway in the direction that you need to go.

Often times life can resemble this same boat trip, the waves and weather that is pushing and pulling you in different directions, is analogous to your community and social groups. Did you ever think why did I get into UI/UX design, or Consulting, or even hobbies like photography? (Let’s be honest you just got into photography to impress that special someone :)

When people say “You are a reflection of your friends,” this isn’t just in the values and characteristics you embody, but often times in career choices too. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you like the direction you are being swayed in, but to determine this you need to try to constantly reflect and ask yourself “Why am I doing this?” “What’s my purpose?” “Am I truly happy doing this or am I happy with the feeling attached to that title?”

I recall a conversation I had with a woman approaching her 60’s, and she explained to me how people get “Trapped into feelings” whether it be materialistic or emotional, and the only escape from that attachment is constant reflection. She had said she had been attached to the feeling of success. She didn’t finish high school, but broke into the corporate culture, worked for 20+ years got to her goal of making 6 figures, to no avail. Once she hit that point she had hoped for a celebration or a feeling of fulfillment, but instead got into a state of confusion and lack of desire to continue on. She quit after getting to the coveted goal, of making 6 figures which, so many millennials highly sought out.

“By all means John don’t think money is a bad thing, but don’t pursue that, pursue things that make you happy, that reflect your inner passions, and life will be much more worthwhile.” Then I ask her do you think “a sense of direction is better, or do you think confusion?” She smiles, “Most definitely confusion, confusion shows you’re on a path of understanding and pursuing that is restless, continuous, which many people should embody.” As she said this, I thought in my mind about a line, how direction is linear, where as confusion is zig-zagged, but in those zig-zags the growth and understanding is never stagnating. Sure you may have a point where you dip, but eventually that dip will lead to a rebound of greater proportions. The last bit of advice she rounded off with was street smarts got her into the corporate world, propelled her to this point of “success,” but “the grass is greener in the sun and away from the corporate umbrella.”

I thought about her words and my interaction for the next week, and how she was, so happy without “knowing” anything for certain at 60! I don’t know if her openness to uncertainty made me feel more at ease or more confused. The fear and pressure of not knowing when everyone around you seems to have such clarity is scary, but what if their own interpretation of “knowing” is just their own way of concealing their fears. Maybe by going through the motions, they hope this will trigger an understanding. When will that understanding take place? When you’re halfway to a hundred?

My takeaways are street-smarts is something that isn’t easily taught, it is learned through trial, error, failure, pain, and experiencing. Corporate seems lucrative, and has its pros, but doesn’t have much interior fulfillment, as often times you’re one of many. Lastly, reflecting is good to put things into perspective and helps you really hone in on understanding your own passions and desires. A quarter-life crises is better than a mid-life crises after all.

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