it's time to change

I’ve decided that I had everything figured out as to what I wanted in life when I was fifteen years old.  As a teenager, I had really strong opinions on what I liked, and what I wanted to do with my life, and I was so sure that everything was gonna be so cool if I followed all that.  Then, as I was growing up, I deviated, and have made myself miserable since.

I’ve been doing a lot of re-examination in my life recently, and I’ve come to realize more and more than I honestly did have it figured out when I was younger.  Granted, I didn’t know the specifics of how to get there, or what I wanted in detail, but years of going the wrong way have taught me one thing continually: I don’t want to be where I’m at.

Lots of stuff has been going on for the past months, but in short summary, I’ve decided to actually start changing things and go the directions I want to go.  I got tired of talking about how it’d be nice to go one direction, and I’ve started actually doing it.  So far, it’s been making all the difference in the world, and has me more excited and interested in life and it’s possibilities again.  That’s something that has been totally lost to me for years.

One recent catalyst that has been helping me push along the way has been going back to school.  When I was younger, I *knew* for a fact, that I didn’t want to go into computers as a field.  People would always tell me that I should go into IT as a career field, since I was “so good at it.”  When I first went to college (the first couple of times), I didn’t have a clear vision of what it is I wanted to do.  So I set out there and pretty much took general education classes which were really boring, and not interesting and not getting me to where I wanted to go — whatever that was — fast enough.  As a result, I dropped out and just started working instead.  I never got a degree.

I bounced from job to job, just doing whatever seemed like a good or interesting fit at the time.  Eventually I did wind up in a computer programming job, and I got myself stuck there.  Well, not so much stuck as indifferent.  Things were “good enough,” and I slumped into a long, long spell of “meh.”  Life sucked, but I had a job that paid the bills, and so I lazily sailed from one company to another through the years, ignoring the fact that I wasn’t doing what I enjoyed.  I basically dulled myself with the fact that I could go home and do things that I enjoyed doing, and resigned myself to the fact that I’d never enjoy work very much, if at all, so to just kind of gloss over it all and stare at life through a bit of a hazed view.  Sleepwalking through life, going through the motions.  Pretty miserable stuff.  Never really knowing what I wanted, but knowing it wasn’t this, and too dulled from the experience of it all to bother looking.

Even though I was indifferent, I was always unhappy as well.  The desire to do something else never went away, and instead of focusing inward and trying to find what it was that was pushing me, I learned to just push back.  This has made my entire life just one unsatisfying moment from one day to the next.  The stress has been doing a lot of damage to my system, and it’s really taken the toll on me physically.

So, yah, that brings me to a few years later where I’m starting to finally get so tired of this lifestyle, that I’m ready to change things for good.  There were a lot of other, little events along the way that undoubtedly prepared me for these moments, and so I’m finally changing things around and starting to go into the direction I want to.

School is a major, major one for me.  I’ve known since I was much younger that I enjoyed working with people, and would get fascinated talking to them about their life situations and scenarios (not limited only to problems).  I would love to learn about different perspectives, and I would always get really caught up in drama of people’s lives — their challenges, their opinions, their experiences, how they make decisions, how they perceive things, and so on.  I still find it all fascinating.  How individuals evolve and develop  personalities and become who they are is really one of the mysteries I like to explore.

In one of my jaunts in school, I took an Introduction to Psychology course, and absolutely loved it.  I remember sitting in the class wide-eyed absorbing everything that was said.  What was really cool, though, is I just *got it* naturally.  All the explanation given in the textbook and the lectures were just rounding out the details, filling in the gaps of the things that I had figured out or already understood somehow.  It was really cool.  I aced the class without even having to put in any amount of effort.  I wish I would have clued in back then that that was what I wanted to do.  I was majoring in Computer Science, and when I couldn’t even get past the first programming class, I bailed on school again.

Going back to the university this last semester has opened my eyes a lot.  It’s been many years since I’ve been to school, but this time, I knew what I wanted to do, and that attitude changed the way I approached everything.  I’m studying psychology and sociology now, and I’m ramping up my school life so I can get back to something I enjoy.  Professionally, I’m still working with computers, but I’m phasing myself out of that field, which makes me totally ecstatic.

Here’s another major thing that has changed my perspective on things, which again makes me throw back my thoughts to my adolescent years when I had it all figured out.  I’ve been taking some career tests, personality tests, and interest inventory tests recently — some as part of a student workshop at school, and some through career counseling at school, and some on my own — and the results always match up the same, no matter what the test is.  They all agree that based on my background, interest, and personality type, that I’m totally geared for a career in behavioral therapy (being a counselor, etc.).  What’s totally taken me by surprise, though, is what field they also say I would really do well in, and enjoy: arts.

The whole angle on arts has me perplexed everytime I review it.  As I give it more thought, though, I can see it fitting more.  I’ve always loved creative writing.  I really enjoy music.  And I am totally visually oriented, and am very critical when it comes to how things are presented (you’d never guess that by the way I dress, though).  I’ve talked to a few friends about it, and they were also surprised by the idea that I might be a good fit for something along those lines, but they still tenatively agree that they could see that making sense at the same time.  I’m still curious about that one, myself.  I know I love writing, though, and I am very much into film and drama, so I’m going to start branching out in those areas a bit more as well.  Well, not so much branching out, as I will be just trying to figure out what it is I’m so interested in.

Writing seems to be the most obvious choice right now for me, though.  I’ve signed up for an English writing class next semester to see how that grabs my attention.  Looking back, though, I realize I’ve been enjoying writing all my life.  I have lots and lots of stories that I wrote in elementary school, and while they weren’t really all that *great*, I remember having a lot of fun doing them, and I’d write more when I had free time.

When I was a teenager, I got into writing poetry, and wrote a ton of those over the years.  They were really helpful for me, and I go back and I love looking at them.  It’s great to be able to see what I was going through, in retrospect, and that I could so accurately capture the essence of my emotions.  Almost all of them are incredibly depressing, but they are very descriptive.  Others would probably not clue in to what was going on, but it sure brings back a flood of memories to me, and I captured it well enough for me to remember at least.

I’ve thought about posting some of them online, and I probably will eventually.  In the meantime, here’s a link to one that was actually quite positive, and it’s one of my favorite ones anyway: One Last Time.  Part of me is a bit hesitant to put that out there, since I’m not a huge fan of negative criticism, but we’ll see.  I’d love to hear any thoughts on the matter.

I eventually moved on from poetry, and started writing really detailed journal entries instead.  Every once in a blue moon I get the urge to write a poem again, but the skill seems to have been lost a little bit.  I could see myself writing more stories, though.  Even when I tend to ramble on, my stream of conciousness dumps tend to take on a story form naturally, I’ve noticed.  Interesting, that.

So that pretty much leads me to where I am now.  I’m changing everything around, and I do mean everything.  I’m trying to mine my past memories and recall what it is I was so sure about those almost twenty years ago.  So far, only a few have come back to me.

One of them that I remember really well is that when I was older, I wanted to have my own small apartment that wasn’t flourid or frilly, but instead very minimal and practical, and I would spend all my free time just studying and improving upon my talents.  I don’t consider it a coincidence that that’s the direction my life has been slowly drifting towards in the past little while, as I start seeking out what I want.  The thought of doing that appeals to me rather strongly, and so that’s exactly what I’m gonna do.  I’m already looking for a new apartment where I can just get a small studio, throw together some beanbags and have a little library and just chill out and read books and write and study.

Another thing I remember that I wanted when I was younger was that I hated the idea of excess.  Again, I’ve let myself slip, but really, only just a little.  I have a lot of stuff, but I still try to take an approach where I don’t have too many strong interests going on.  So, I have a lot of a few things: movies, books, music, games.  I don’t branch out much more than that.  I’m still gonna get rid of a lot of my stuff, though, the things that I think are holding me back and keeping me from feeling like I’m in control a bit.  Again, it’s one of those things that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but never really had the energy or willpower to execute.

I’m still having trouble remembering some of the stuff from back then.  I do remember I hated the idea of driving around looking for a parking spot close to a store’s entrance when you could just park farther away and get some exercise.  I still hate that, thank goodness, so I haven’t totally cast off all my original goals.  That’s a good sign, at least.

So that’s the direction my life is moving: the one I want it to go into.  I can already say that I’m finding myself much less stressed, and in fact, actually having a lot of positive experiences on a regular basis.  I have to wonder if that’s what it’s like for most people.  I’ve been so accustomed to selling my dreams and goals short, that I’ve lost all touch with what it’s like to be alive and enjoy things.

I imagine I’m probably coming off sounding like a hippie or someone with a mid-life crisis, but that’s not the case at all.  It’s simply a matter of me realizing that I haven’t been pursuing what I want to do, when given the chance, and so now I’m aiming to fix that oversight.

As they say, slightly better times ahead.

zechariah chapter eight

I stumbled on this chapter the other day, when I was at my Isaiah class, and while one group of scriptures stood out to me, it’s one of those chapters where I keep bouncing around and finding cool stuff just in the whole thing.

It’s in the book of Zechariah, which is the second-to-last book in the Old Testament (KJV).  The Lord, speaking through the prophet, is describing how the city of Jerusalem is going to be safely inhabited in the future.  That in itself isn’t such an interesting or novel address in the scriptures, but so far, this one stands out to me because he goes in detail about what life will be like, and also compares it to the way things were before.

My favorite passage is verses nine to fifteen:

9. ¶ Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, which were in the day that the foundation of the house of the LORD of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built.

10. For before these days there was no hire for man, nor any hire for beast; neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in because of the affliction: for I set all men every one against his neighbour.

11. But now I will not be unto the residue of this people as in the former days, saith the LORD of hosts.

12. For the seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.

13. And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong.

14. For thus saith the LORD of hosts; As I thought to punish you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath, saith the LORD of hosts, and I repented not:

15. So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not.

I was looking through the chapter again yesterday morning I think it was, and verse twelve stuck out to me.  One thing I’ve learned to notice in the scriptures, is to look closely whenever the Lord lists things in a sequential list.  I’ve found that there can be some significance to that.

The things that will propser, specifically:

For the seed shall be prosperous;

the vine shall give her fruit,

and the ground shall give her increase,

and the heavens shall give their dew;

What I find interesting, is that it goes from the smallest to the largest, from those who have influence in their own realm, and those whose influence stretches far beyond themselves.

The spiritual application that I’m getting from this, is that all of us, from the smallest to the greatest, will be able to reach our potential.  To some, it is given to bring forth great things, and to some it is given to bring forth little.

I know there’s a lot of pressure sometimes, in a religious community, to expect more of ourselves than is possible.  In that realm of thought, I love the parable of the talents given to the servants (see Matthew 25:14-30).  To one servant, was given five talents, and to another two, and to another, one.  The lesson is that where much is given, much is required.  The Lord’s answer of “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” was the exact same to the servant who doubled his talents, regardless of his initial investment.  The Lord gives us all, and he expects all in return.

The last part of the verse is cool as well, and it illustrates how all of this is going to happen, in both a literal sense of economic, social and agricultural stability, but also spiritually and individually:

I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.

The Lord prepares the people, He is the one that effects the change, and the reason we have the scriptures is so that we can know His will and how to change our lives.  This chapter just includes some of the promises that will come as people seek to do that.

I can certainly testify from my own experience that lots of personal growth comes from actually living the Gospel of Christ.  It’s difficult, but very rewarding.

Good stuff, I tell you.  I enjoy studying this stuff. :)