The Skills We All Needed Yesterday

Practice. Progress.

Instant Gratification.

Timely. Relevant.

Perhaps you’re stuck in life. Like, clear as mud stuck but you can’t let anyone know because it’s scary to admit. So, you freeze, then pick up your phone and decide that EVERYONE ELSE HAS THEIR SHIT TOGETHER BUT YOU AND YOU’RE GETTING NO WHERE IN LIFE FAST. In addition, the jobs you want, you needed the skills like five years ago plus two years’ experience and everything is changing at the drop of a hat and you’ll never amount to anything AND HOW DO YOU PLAY CATCH UP?!

[Sometimes, I like run-on sentences. They make me feel smarter.]


This is how I feel, quite often nowadays. Maybe you do, too. Luckily, I’ve done a LOT of searching and thinking and life mapping and more research and asked myself a LOT more questions. But, I had to experience something in my life in 2014 I had not done before which entailed me flying from Minneapolis (where I live) to San Diego solo for an event my favorite band puts on in their hometown every summer. I witnessed a moment at Moonlight Beach at 5:15 am when the crew for the Switchfoot Bro-Am was setting up the event happening that day and it stopped me in my tracks. The definition of Community was reborn for me right then and there.

I cried for about 15 minutes sitting on a hill of sand by the ocean after it happened. I was in paradise though. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I was supposed to be happy and feel free. I didn’t Instagram it or update my Facebook status, but I did have a readily prepared notebook and pen in hand, and I started writing, and I kept writing. I can go back to my journal at any time and re-experience that entire trip. I can still feel that moment. I can still see it. I can see smell it. I can still hear the ocean.

When I flew to San Diego for that trip, I was on the search for my own life answers. What was I doing with my time? Why did the work I was doing not feel meaningful or fulfilling? It was a soul-searching trip yet everyone just thought I was on vacation. In a way, I was, but in a whole other dimension, I wasn’t.

There’s also a revelation every damn time I attend the Bro-Am and it is the best medicine for myself. Why? I’m away from everything I know back home.

I firmly believe that solo paradise vacations can bring out the toughest moments life can throw at you when you’re lost. It’s partially a psychological thing because you are forced to answer your own questions, but there’s something calming about the sound of the ocean and natural Vitamin D nourishment that relaxes your soul while processing it all. Do yourself a favor when you book your next trip. Pack the pen and notebook in the bag with straps you’ll be wearing so you can throw it over your shoulders, and start writing or drawing whenever the spark hits you. Ask yourself those big scary questions and then be brave enough to follow through with what you know needs to happen.

Fast forward two years: 2016 is the year of real change where I’m putting my money where my mouth is.

Practice and Progress

The infamous question you’re asked when you turn 18 is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” But I’m not 18 and I’m not a #LifeAt2X* anymore. I’m a #LifeAt3X* and figuring out what Community it is I belong to at home was a game-changer for me. It was a huge daunting question that I ignored for a long time mainly because I didn’t know how to find the answer.

After listening and exchanging words with some very strong-willed women in my life, some I’ve actually met in person and some I haven’t, I made a decision in Fall 2015. I was going back in school to learn new skills.

I am now back in school for Web and Interactive Design, even though I already have my undergrad. My childhood years of shop class in middle school kept poking at my brain day in and day out reminding me how much I enjoyed the technical aspect of working with machines. IT WOULDN’T GO AWAY. I made CO2 care, clocks, shelves, an Adirondack chair (she needs new paint), tool boxes out of sheet metal and other things.

I’m playing “catch up” but I always will be in this industry and that’s the beauty of it. I needed a structured timeline to follow so that I could practice and move forward while making progress. That meant setting myself up for success. Some people have the opinion of teaching yourself through or free tutorials on YouTube. My answer to them is this: If I didn’t spend the extra money on the additional college classes (and it’s very affordable), I would be kicking myself for not going back to school because I need a structured environment. It’s a great way to force myself to take eight hours of my week to focus and not wonder if I’m walking in circles getting nowhere fast. I’m learning valuable skills I can apply in the real world like RIGHT NOW which leads to…

Instant Gratification

I am become “instantly” better the more I read and the more I consume and practice. The gratification comes from me looking at something I learned seven days ago and presenting it in class and saying, “Here’s what I did and why I did what I did. OH MY GOSH I CREATED MY OWN MAGIC WAND.”

If I weren’t back in school, I’d have no idea where the heck the start. I can’t put a pricetag on a structured environment (that’s a lie). I definitely can’t put a pricetag on the individuals who are at my level (that’s is true).

What I’m going back to school for will ALWAYS be timely and relevant moving forward. But the key is being involved in the communities and attending seminars and learning from others because it’s really all about being a team player. There are people MUCH smarter than me in this world, but that means I’m doing it right. Perhaps, I’ll be the smartest person in the room and others will follow me into the room.

Anything is possible, really. No matter how many times you get kicked down, there’s a way around everything, or the situation will present a new opportunity you never saw coming.


[That’s a run-on sentence I’m super proud of].

If you want to geek out with me, contact me. Really.

Twitter: @RachelRyan_
Facebook: The Middle of In Between

Stand, but don’t stay in the middle,

*#LifeAt2X means a “20-something-year-old,” and #LifeAt3X means a “30-something-year-old.”]