I have never felt comfortable in an office setting.
Maybe it’s the corporate atmosphere that gets to me. Hour-long meetings, year-end reviews, office politics. Perhaps I’m literally uncomfortable, having to wear suits where I’d be more at ease in blue jeans and a tee.
Or maybe it’s the knowledge that when I was younger, I had never imagined myself sitting in a cubicle for 40 hours each week.
When I was a child, I wanted to be an adventurer. And every night, I was. I would lie in bed, close my eyes, and be transported forward through time. I would see glimpses of what I knew was my certain future.
When we are children, we are told that we can be and do anything.
Then years pass, and we are encouraged to choose specific paths in life. Often this begins in highschool, when we are sixteen and suddenly expected to know how we want our entire lives to unfold. We attend college, or a tradeschool, and we enter the workforce. Here we spend the majority of our lives. We get married, have kids, and 50% of us get divorced and fight over those kids. We find ourselves living the lives we are told are the correct lives to live.
My issue is that I could never move on from that life I had imagined every night when I was young.
Around the same time that I turned to writing code as a solution for extended world travel, and discovered that I actually enjoyed it, my mother had a similar revelation.
She discovered painting.
At a paint & wine night with her friends, hosted by a local bar, my mom tried painting for the first time in her life. Like everyone else, she had a great time, made a simple painting, and brought it home. Unlike everyone else, she decided that she might actually enjoy doing this on her own. With Youtube as her instructor, she transformed the basement into her private studio, and spent whole days turning blank canvas’ into Bob Ross-inspired works of art.
It’s been two years since I first began my journey into code, and two years since my mom started to paint. In a few days, I will be flying off to Bogota, Columbia, as part of my travels through Latin America. To date, my mother has hosted well over 50 of her own paint parties.
That’s right. Not only did she teach herself how to paint, she started her own paint-party business. We both found something we enjoy, worked incredibly hard to become good at it, and now reap the rewards. For me, I can live and work from anywhere in the world. For her, she actually gets paid to bring art and laughter into peoples homes.
We begin down paths set for us when we are young, and we are pushed in certain directions as we get older. We need to remember that nothing is set, and we need to be honest with ourselves about the lives we truly want. There is nothing stopping the young adult (with a useless degree) from finding a way to travel the world indefinitely. There is nothing stopping a retired person from finding a new passion, and even turning it into a profitable business.
All it takes is being a little… uncomfortable.