Monday, March 31, 2008

Cant Stop Wont Stop Eh-uh Eh-uh

I think I'm beginning to realize that I walk a fine line between a so-called "iron will" and just being stubborn. Especially over the last few years, there were a couple BIG decisions where I maybe should have quit what I was doing and tried something else, but I wouldn't let myself quit. It's not simply the fact that times got rough or difficult, but that they became so because it probably wasn't the best match or the best decision for me; that I could've been a lot happier and more successful doing something else.

Courage, Determination, and Triumph, you say??

I've pined over it again and again, but my most prime example would be my major, Systems Engineering. Man, that first semester of college was a rough one. You can ask my parents, but it was a bit of a blow to them what with my high school track record and all, and they honestly asked me if I want to major in something else, and that if that's what I wanted to do, that I should do so. No more of this switching your major before you submit your application stuff; my parents honestly thought that I was unhappy with engineering and maybe if I switched to something I enjoyed, I'd perform better (I do not know whether that hypothesis is statistically proven, but I'll assume so). At first, I thought, "Finally! My way out to do what I want to do!" The only problem was... at the time, I didn't know what I wanted to do. On top of that, I had been given a glimmer of hope from a professor who thought there was somewhere I could fit in (Systems Engineering, thank you, Ms. Beck) and that if I could just get selected for it, I'd find my place. Well, I got in, and I started performing a little better, but definitely not at the academic level I previously was once at. And of course, part of that can be credited to my not giving it 100% and studying and working academically as hard as I could have been (due to laziness, a desire to have fun, AND extra curricular activities), but I also was never passionate about my major or the work I was doing, and for whatever amount of my "non-success" I can credit to that, I do.

NROTC. Oh boy, there's another one. Another item that I was nearly 100% sure I didn't want to participate in, but my parents insisted that I "try it out". And so I did. And just as I felt with engineering, it didn't kill me, but I wasn't passionate about it. I mean, I'm happy with where I am now. I'm glad to see and be a part of the bigger picture, something bigger than myself; being a part of something that's idealistic and rooted in morals and principles. I'm glad that my job is more than just a paycheck. It's more than just trying to make as much money as I can. But NROTC, I seriously wonder if it was for me. I think I can say that I performed more competently in NROTC than I did in my major, but the passion wasn't there either. I know there are lots of MIDN/former MIDN who were very passionate and gung-ho about what they were doing and their jobs and stuff, and I congratulate them on that, but I can honestly say that wasn't me. While I'm satisfied with where that path has taken me, it just leaves a small shadow on me for doing something that I wasn't REALLY passionate about. Why did I do that? Because I didn't want to quit.

$77 per month?! SNAP SIGN ME UP!

So why don't I quit when it seems so obvious that these paths are not for me? I just don't want to be looked at as a quitter, as someone who couldn't "hack it". As vain and stubborn as that may sound, it's the truth. I don't want to have to come home and have people ask how my job/work/whatever is going, and then tell them I'm not doing that anymore because it wasn't for me. And THAT'S where the line between toughing my way through it and just being stubborn comes in. Am I really a "quitter" if I try something, find that it isn't for me or that it really isn't something I want to do, and thus stop pursuing it? Am I just being stubborn when I don't want to quit something because I'll be embarrassed to tell people I quit something, even if I don't completely enjoy what I do? I don't know, though I've asked myself those questions many times over. You really do have to fail me and kick me out because I will not quit no matter how marginal I am. Kind of like you'll have to stick me with a needle and draw my blood because I can't do it to myself (does that metaphor work??).

(No quips for this one)

So in the end, I guess I don't know what to write it off as. Am I "tough" because I just refuse to quit no matter how bad the times get? Or am I a stubborn idiot who keeps subjecting himself to self-inflicted trials and tribulations? I think it's healthy that I bring the question up within myself as a way to learn more about who I am, but I guess I'll just never figure this one out. At least until I figure out what it is I really want from this life.


Mark said...

Mike-O: I should be going to bed, but w/ Gian's "tumblog" or whatever, I stumbled across your old-fashioned blog. Sounds like I've been on this road.

I know it sounds like the typical thing to say, but the past (i.e. Systems, NROTC) was the past, and any thought of "why did I do that," or "what if I followed what I was truly passionate about" is idle thought. Looking back just leads to regret, and more confusion about where you are now. Your experience in the past may not have been what you wanted, but look where you are now, and it's not so bad, is it?

If you tried something new, I wouldn't say you're a quitter. You'd be a quitter if your reasons to leave were complaining about circumstances and blaming other people for ruining your experience, or just leaving with no game plan and staying idle. So yeah, I think your stubbornness may be an issue, but instead of doing something drastic like leaving a job or major, just see what little things can be changed to make things better or help you see the positives of the situation.

It takes courage to go where your heart wants, and not care about what people think (i.e. what you're doing now, or where are you going to school, etc.), but in the end, you control your own life, and as long as you're responsibly happy that's all that matters. If your situation is tough, see if it's just a trial by fire, and if it is I think you'll be good.

Enjoy flight school, I think this experience will be pretty sweet when you look back at it...

Riggs said...

Lemme tell you that you are definitely not the only one who has felt lost like this. I am still trying to accept the fact that this is what I'm going to be doing for a couple of years, and this decision for aviation was one I made in less than one week.

I never found passion in my major. I think I was always wondering what it would be like to major in something a little more my style, like music production or something. But then I'd hear my parents' voices in the background and it would just remind me to keep on trucking.

Reading your entry prompted me to go back and read the old xanga entries I wrote during my sophomore year when I was really really contemplating my commitment in the Navy. I didn't join ROTC til soph year and I was still kind of shaky about it... I always thought I'd be better at some desk job or PAO position (even though most of the time I make fun of the air force for their desk jobs). But, I'm where I'm at now and I am probably just as stubborn as you--I don't want to quit, I don't want to stain the family back home and quit or get kicked out (there's probably a 50/50 chance of that at this point), and also I wouldn't know where to go if I left it. I've been back and forth calling myself non-selfish and selfish thinking that I should be giving these opportunities to other people less fortunate to get a head start i.e. high school/college...

But the only way I am going to survive this all is just to remain as open to these new experiences and struggles as I am open to people. I'm not sure if I know where I'm going with this, I just wanted to let you know that I've been down this road before, I've written countless entries about these decisions trying to analyze them and what not. Maybe you know what you want you just didn't want to set up for that. I don't even know what I want to do... flying is not my passion--yet. But I hope it gets better soon.

Lates, V