The Long and Winding Road
I’ve been meaning to write this all down for the longest time, though I guess now’s as good a time as any. This month marks my two year journey into the tech world, and I’ve as many things to say as I do to reflect upon.
Coming from the rigid world of academia, I can name at least 3 reasons as to why tech first interested me:
- REAL catered meals (not the stale muffins of the ever insightful journal clubs).
- Working remotely.
- How casual the entire industry seems.
Granted, number three would be slightly turned on its head when I got a taste of my first real start up, but that was my general perception of tech before I had even written a line of code.
After four years of 12 hour study days, weekend lab work and an ever increasing feeling of ennui, I was desperately looking for any out. The final straw came three months in to a six month stint in Japan. My PI had graciously offered to take me out for beer, and nothing sounded better than that after a 9 hour day in a cramped lead dungeon.
Five beers and 10 cigarettes later, the mentor/mentee gossamer had washed off and conversation had taken a nostalgic turn. Between the topics of cultural divides and my inability to properly use chopsticks, we broached the topic of aspirations. I was hesitant at first, stumbling for a correct response that would mask my jaded feeling toward Biology. He quickly picked up on my failed wordplay, and thus began the monologue that changed my life.
In those three minutes, he somehow managed to unravel the past 13 or so years of my life. While I can’t recollect the entirety of what he said, it can neatly be paraphrased as such:
Anyone can live to work, trust me. Be the person who works to live, and you’ll never feel this way again.
Cliche, I know. It’s your typical Hallmark inspirational quote, but when he said it then, in the smoke filled bar corridor packed to the brim with overworked and solemn businessmen, I knew he had a point.
3 months later, I was back stateside with a mission to make good on the epiphany I had that night. Two years later, that epiphany’s taken me to Silicon Valley, South America, Europe and India in pursuit of that on going quest — working to live. In the process, I’ve co-founded a successful start up, became a professional software developer and graphic designer and, most importantly, have found meaning entirely in life as opposed to entirely in my work.