When I Grow Up

Komisar QuoteI have been thinking a lot about a conversation I had with a friend recently – moreover, though, how I can’t help but feel that I have had this same conversation with dozens of people, and that I often wonder how many times a day this same conversation takes place.

It takes many forms, but, at its core, the message is always the same.

‘I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.’

And though this dilemma carries with it a connotation of youth, I find that many of the people trapped within it are, ironically, not young at all – they are simply facing the reality a bit farther down the road.

The truth is, though, you should feel relieved – at any age – to have this thought consuming you – and, if it doesn’t, perhaps you should try to conjure up some fear of it. Crises of this sort mean that you want more out of life – that your personal composition today is not sufficient, that you hunger for change that gives birth to self-betterment.

But we distract ourselves from this realization too often. It bubbles to the surface, and we panic – that is, until a well-meaning confidant assuages the fear by assuring us that it is natural, normal, and healthy.

In fact, that advice is sound, but it is missing a key followup. Continue reading

The Lost Generation, Explained (finding purpose in an uncertain future)

"We'll start you out here, then give you more responsibilities as you gain experience."

I’ve heard that, in the minutes before a natural disaster, farm animals often exhibit a general and uneasy restlessness – long before any detectable indicator appears on the horizon, they mill about and complain noisily, not exactly able to identify the impetus for their discontent – but fearing the impending storm nonetheless. Continue reading

Creating a Vacuum (or, when to move on)

Careers and relationships are curiously similar, I think, and as a pair are quite unique in how we approach them. We dive headfirst into these commitments with only partial information – information which, more often than not, turns out to be inaccurate.

I don’t mean to imply that job openings and potential romantic partners are intentionally misrepresented (though, I’ll admit, they sometimes are). I mean to say that they are simply two aspects of life that must be understood experientially – initial descriptions and appearances suffice only to lure you in, and you’ll only truly understand them by experiencing them over the course of time. Continue reading

Jealousy, Relationships, and the Voices In Your Head

Tim Ferriss Quote

The brain is a wondrous instrument – it builds detailed mental models of how our world functions, storing a dizzying array of information based on historical observations that we’ve made. The purpose of these models, or schemas, is to provide us with a framework for decision making prior to committing to a given course of action.

It allows us to play out a scenario within the comfort of our own minds – it’s a sort of forecasting system, a Dopplar radar for social functions, that is designed to add a degree of predictability to our world. When you’re invited to a party, you quickly analyze the person who invited you, the other known guests, the venue, and any other information to make a quick run-through of the night.

Will it be fun? Will it be my scene? What time will I get home?

Your mind runs a explores simulations and then you make a judgement call whether or not to attend – and, if you do, what you should expect. The problem is, it often ends up being very wrong.

Continue reading

How to Make Bad Decisions

Quite possibly the earliest recorded bad decision in my life – that’s me wearing a New Kids On The Block hat and throwing down gang signs in front of a Saturn. I think/hope my taste has improved since then.

There’s a point, I think, where some people stop changing – they reach a certain level of personal growth, a plateau of sorts, and they just freeze. There must be a muscle deep within your soul, responsible for curiosity, for improvement, for disruption, and, one day, it just starts to atrophy. Continue reading

Facing Reality

Flick, flick. Nothing.

The power was out in my apartment. In the middle of June. Awesome.

I walked out the door and down the hall, finally coming across a neighbor on the floor below me.

“Hey man, is your power out too?” I asked.

The neighbor shook his head no and that’s when my mind began to put the pieces together. The piled up mail on the counter. The voicemails on my phone that I hadn’t checked in days. I walked back into the apartment, took a deep breath, and fanned out the mail like a deck of cards. I saw it immediately and my heart plummeted.

It was the shut-off notice from the power company. Continue reading

Investing in Loss

The view of Pike’s Peak from the top of the climb. Credit: Jordan Hayes

My forearms are burning. I open and close my hands a few times, observing the frustrating sensation of having them respond at about half the speed that I’m requesting of them. Over my left shoulder is a spectacular view of Pike’s Peak, far below me a group of climbers – some onlookers, some stealing a moment of shelter in the shade – but the view that’s really capturing my attention is the rock formation six inches in front of my face.

My right hand – and by hand, I mean some portion of a few of my fingers – is gripping onto a rock just barely within my reach. My feet are resting on a natural shelf cut into the mountain, the route above me jutting out towards my torso, pushing me into a backwards-leaning posture that feels, well, about as unnatural as leaning backwards off the edge of a cliff.

It’s my first time sport climbing.

Continue reading