I grew up with the mindset that being successful in life depended on some obvious and concrete factors; your success in school, how prestigious your college was, your career, income, and spousal success. Things that society could see and judge without having to know you on a deeper level. The one that influenced me the most was going into a respected career field. I grew up with a skill for math and a love of numbers, they just made sense to me. You learn the rules of the game and if you apply them correctly you arrive at the same answer every time. This love led me to pursue an education in engineering. This career was an integral part of society, allowing me to feel like I was on the right course. I would certainly be respected by my peers and add value to the world.
As I moved through the required classes to get my engineering degree and interned at companies that I could eventually work for, I started to question whether I truly had a passion for engineering. I have been told many different things about what your experience at work should be like. From things like if you are truly passionate about what you do, you never work a day in your life to work is just a necessary part of life, and that your passions can be explored outside of work. I certainly hoped to pursue a life that allowed the former to be true. As more time passed, the dichotomy of sticking it out to pursue a conventional engineering career and dropping everything I worked towards to explore other possibilities grew and grew.
This feeling developed inside of me, manifesting into the shame I felt knowing what society wanted of me, but not wanting it myself. I never stopped to question why I thought that to be happy I needed to land a high-paying job, save money for a house, find a wife, have children, and provide for them. Now I was. I asked myself if this truly was the best path for me, could I see myself waking up, commuting an hour to the office, sitting behind a desk for 8 hours, then driving home and enjoying the little bit of day left all to do the exact same thing the next morning. I experienced this while working at a medical device company. I truly enjoyed the people and time I spent there and knew the small things I did were helping people in some way. However, I realized I wanted to be more involved in helping and uplifting people in a more direct way. I recognized that I felt most like myself and the most fulfilled while seeing the direct impacts of my efforts on people’s faces. I experienced glimpses of this when I tutored others and their faces would light up when I helped them grasp a concept or when I volunteered and gave my time to others. I knew that I could provide for others and be a value to society without following a conventional engineering career. That is not to say I would not be utilizing what I learned while acquiring my degree.
I will be engineering something completely different. In the coming year, I will be a part of engineering a sustainable homestead with my brother and a friend. I will be learning to live off a piece of land in a sustainable way. I will be learning how to cultivate all types of mushrooms and bringing my grandpa’s old workshop back to its former glory. I also intend to get certified in yoga instruction, delve into my own journey with meditation while researching different types and techniques, and further explore lucid dreaming to use these activities to assist people in aligning their mind, body, and soul to attain a higher degree of inner peace.
Overcoming internalized shame is not done overnight. It takes consistent work. This is something that I have been struggling with for the past two and a half years and am just beginning to get a handle on. It is a process that takes time and, for me specifically, some restructuring of my core beliefs and accepted truths. However, the light at the end of the tunnel is certainly very bright and worth the effort. The sense of freedom and renewed self-acceptance that I am beginning to conjure within myself feels like hundreds of pounds of pressure lifted off my shoulders. I recognize my journey is everlasting, but I am extremely happy with where I am and my outlook for the future.
Make Today Your Best Day Yet!
“Life is a series of fresh starts, the frequency of use is up to the individual”~Zak Keller aka amusingmonk~