This week, on Tuesday, as a matter of fact, a vice president in the company for which I work curbed me during a one on one conversation, seemingly randomly providing me a validating piece of wisdom:
“You know, man,” he started, “you’re young. You’ve probably got dreams. Don’t be afraid to leave Cerner to pursue those dreams. Just don’t burn any bridges. And if those dreams don’t work out, you can always come back to a place like Cerner.”
I don’t think he had any idea how much I needed to hear that from a person in a position such as the one he held. I sure didn’t. But hearing him say that was like a breath of fresh air. Before I (finally) get around to mentioning what that conversation snippet has to do with anything whatsoever, let me clarify that this is not going to be a post about me hating my job; my job is pretty solid. It’s not going to be about encouraging anyone to quit anything to chase flowers, or chocolate, or the flying spaghetti monster, or what have you. However, I will be personal.
I’m a year and a half into taking my music seriously. Yes, you read that correctly. I’ve been a musician for 14 years, and I’ve been uploading content online and releasing projects for three, six, really, if you count my stuff that only friends and family have heard. Unfortunately, it was only a hobby until I realized how much it keeps me up at night, how much a part of my identity it is.
In the year and a half since I fully embraced my music passion, since that second semester of my second year in graduate school, I have felt more liberated and more empowered than I ever had up to that point. There are people who actually appreciate my letting out things that I didn’t value enough to expose! Who would have thought that was possible? It’s incredible to know that people are listening avidly to anything I decide to enunciate, at any given point in time. It’s been an awesome time period for me.
It’s also been one of the most painful things that I’ve ever known. This has been the hardest year I’ve experienced thus far, and I think that’s because we grow so much when we finally make a decision to embrace us. Who are you, really? Freedom, joy, pain, wrath, frustration, exhilaration, all of these emotions and more are crunched into the messiest packaging possible, bound, and slapped with a gift label that reads something along the lines of “You finally decided to figure it out. Good luck.” Some good that it does. From my end of things, I feel like life would have been a lot easier if I weren’t so frustrated with normal — whatever that means — on a regular basis, and if I was fine with being successful, textbook definition style. Unfortunately, that will never happen with me. It won’t ever happen with you either. Odds are, if you pay attention to the NPC (Happy Birthday, Us!), you probably are a little different some kind of way, and you’re hella proud of it. Even when it sucks, you’re proud of it. When it’s great, you probably play things down to make sure it’s real, trying to do everything you can to take things in the right way and to grow and learn as much as possible while it’s good. Because it will probably suck again soon.
And that’s perfectly fine. That’s part of the greatness of the process that is discovering you, me discovering me, us discovering us.
The conversation I listed really just reminded me that people who have made it to their stations in life don’t always expect us to follow the paths that they built in order for others to further build their successes.
I don’t really have a major turnaround, wrap up, moral, or anything like that for this post. I just want to encourage you to do you. Period. Because doing you is awesome. Every single winding, tumultuous, calming, contradictory, peaceful, destructive moment of it. I hope you embrace it the way that we are over here in NPC-land….
Because life is anything but linear.