Has it really been five years since I left the University of Illinois?… I don’t feel that old, but then again, college does feel like a lifetime ago. Nostalgia is the initial feeling – it’s fun to live in the past, especially because it’s easy to remember all the good parts. I consciously pull myself back to the present day and think about all that has transpired in the five years since I left that Champaign-Urbana campus: I received a diploma in Computer Science (please don’t ask me if I know how to build apps or websites, I don’t), I worked for two years as a business intelligence consultant (cool-sounding title for a guy who sits in front of a computer and works with databases and reporting), I moved to a state far away from family and friends where I lived by myself for almost a year, I went through some shit health-wise (adrenal fatigue/panic attacks), and I realized that I wasn’t living the life that I was meant to live.
Maybe most people go through this much or more, but as someone who likes stability and is a creature of habit, this was a lot of shtuff. Now, I want to make something very clear – while I was a bit tongue-in-cheek in my list, I ABSOLUTELY APPRECIATE every one of these experiences that I had. While I wish some of it wouldn’t have gone exactly the way it did (*ahem* health problems that I still feel repercussions of to this day), I learned A LOT from each experience.
That diploma that I received? I had to EARN it – the Engineering program at U of I is no joke and I’ve never had to work harder in my life for anything.
That consulting job I had? I learned what it meant to be a working professional, how to work with people, and how to fake-it-til-you-make-it (shout out to all the entry-level consultants out there.)
That state where I had to live by myself? Oh man, so much… Just everything… As I mentioned before, I like my comfort zone a little too much (even in college, I lived with a best friend from high school.) This took that bubble and destroyed it. I had to travel (fly/drive cross-country) by myself for the first time, live by myself, find friends by myself, find things to do by myself… you get the picture. What’s funny is… I loved it! It was like a grand adventure where everything was new and exciting. Eventually this wore off and I wanted to (and did) move back home but the point is that I learned a TON from being pushed outside of my box.
That health crap? I learned that I have to live passionately rather than living “how I should”. Life will never be stress-free, but I learned (and am still learning) what stresses me out and how to mitigate that. Oh, and I also learned that my love of the gym and weight training is a very real thing (I was borderline depressed not being able to workout intensely for about 6 months.)
So what was the point of this? Well it was interesting for me to put on paper (read: screen), for one. But also, I think it is important to stop and reflect every once in a while to see where you are at in life and how you got there. Doing this made me realize how proud I am with where I’m at and happy about where I’m going. Happy but not satisfied.
What about you?