Coping With Loss – Chapter 17 : Passion

Most people find something they feel like they were made for. Others stumble their way through life trying to find that answer. Regardless of which one you are, having a passion is something everyone finds at some point. It just takes time to start feeling that way.

My mother did HOA management as her career. When I talked with her about it, she gave off the impression that it was something she genuinely enjoyed doing. It could be that the responsibility of managing blended well with her love for being a parent. In the end, I never got a chance to ask what she truly loved doing in life, though most tell me being a mother was it. I feel that having a passion is a great feeling, the motivation to get up everyday because you truly want to do something. Sometimes I wonder if I actually have a passion, or if I simply just settled for what I could do given my circumstances.

I have a knack for technology, if it beeps and boops, chances are I can build, repair or use it with little effort. I stubbornly refuse to accept I might not know enough about how technology works, and have expended countless hours working towards having a vast knowledge on the topic. I never had any official training in the field; most of my experience comes from personal interest. I took a few classes in high school, which mostly equated to sitting down for an hour listening to someone spout off a Wikipedia page everyday. However, given the chance to do it all over again, I would quickly go down the same path.

After gaining my anxiety, leaving my home became an issue. When you are shackled to a house, you start to find ways to make yourself happy amid the cries of insanity. Computers were that facet, and my gateway to what started as a hobby and eventually became my life. I got my first computer for my fiftieth birthday from my mother, who was gracious enough to get someone to custom build it for me. At the time I was overjoyed to have the option to play video games on a new platform. I knew some people who played online games and wanted to join them. For a year things were fine, until I encountered a barrier that could only be resolved through upgrading my computer.

I saved up my allowance, and had my mother contact the guy who had originally built my computer. He installed a new graphics card and charged what I felt was a rather large amount of money for essentially less than an hour of his time. I began to ask him about it, seeing if it was a difficult task and was it fun to do. He seemed to give this attitude like it was only worth the money involved. Building computers was just a simple business in a time when the average person could barely understand the different between dial-up and AOL. I felt a bit disappointed in his response, and proceeded to search online to find a better answer to my question.

Once there I learned just how deep technology really was. The knowledge of building a computer from scratch, and all the ones and zeros that made up what I had come to know as an operating system. I continued to expand my knowledge, taking what was simply a hobby into a passion. I wanted to build computers of the future, I wanted to teach others how to harness technology, and most importantly, I wanted to continue feeling the sensation of joyful intrigue.

Once I finished high school, I was left in a particular situation. I could go to college to advance my knowledge, or I find a new path to walk down. I looked into college, and found that although it gave me access to countless people with far more knowledge on the subject, it also came at a price not worth admission. I swallowed my doubts and pushed myself to attend a trade school not far from home. Because of my anxiety, it was hard to travel a long distance from home and feel comfortable enough to focus on school. My dream was to attend MIT, a well-renown school for technology and a bastion of technology beyond what I could imagine.

I neither had the grades or the ability to even consider the option, and so settling on a nearby trade school I ventured off to learn more about my passion. It was then I learned that my doubts were more valid that I thought. Higher learning is generally ninety percent general education and ten percent your career. Sure some colleges might differ here and there, but the fact remained that majority wise, you will spend at least two years learning more about the things you already spent twelve years of your life ignoring.

I didn’t need to know more history, english, math or science. I already knew it all, and college could only introduce me to more advance knowledge on subjects I neither had an interest nor need for. Granted high school gave the option to skip these classes by taking college level classes early, but they weren’t required, so students who didn’t have the passion to pursue usually overlook them. Never the less, I found myself unable to give a crap. I skipped a lot of classes, and ultimately ended up dropping out when they informed me I wasn’t allowed to test out of every class and leave college in under a year.

I felt that my passion might be harder to turn into a career than I original thought. I contemplated getting a few certifications, but again, I was present with the issue of having to pay money every couple of years to retake a test to recertify. Doing the math, I would end up dropping well over the cost of college just to stay certified my entire life, fiscally wasteful. So I just gave up and got a part time job. I started to lose interest in my passion and found myself just becoming complacent with my current employment. I wanted to do something I loved, but the cost didn’t equal the sacrifice necessary.

Eventually I found a college that promised I would get a better chance to actually learn more about my passion. They promised I could test out of one class every semester, which adding up meant I could basically spend my time taking the computer classes and just test out of the general education. Unfortunately I learned this wasn’t true upon arriving for my first day. I was informed that not only would it take me a minimum of 2 years before I could even take a computer class, I was only allowed to test out of the computer classes themselves. I was furious, as I rightly should have been. I tried to tough it out, but eventually I again lost interest and dropped out.

I found myself in a situation where I not only could I not pursue my dream career, but I also racked up a fair amount of debt in the pursuit of it. I slowly became resentful towards my knowledge, and the desire to want more for myself than just a menial existence doing a job I hate. I finally just put technology on the backburner and continued doing part-time jobs. I found myself doing a construction job that while being labor intensive, gave me the chance to push myself physically and emotionally going places I had never been before. I enjoyed it, and enjoyed the people I worked with. Then I was given a call; it was a job offer for tech support. I was elated, for the first time, I would have the chance to do a job that I enjoyed and get paid for it!

For a good six months I tried my best to find some enjoyment in my work. I spent hours helping resentful people fix basic computer issues they consistently blamed on the company and refused to learn why the issue even happened and how to not have it happen again. It was hell, a constant cycle of helping the same type of people with the same type of problems over and over, day after day. I again began to reset my knowledge, but on top of it, the people who refused to just learn a basic tip or two. I was promptly fired from the job for a ‘bad attitude’ after refusing to help a customer setup a printer over the phone. There were two reasons for this; the first is that my job was only to diagnose and fix issues on a customer’s computer, so unless the printer was already setup and just not showing up on the computer, there was nothing I could do. Second was the amount of time it would take to fix the issue could put me into a situation where I couldn’t help any other customers and make my ticket count go down which is also grounds for getting fired.

I decided to take the lesser of two evils, refuse the request to help and gladly accepted my termination. It was a terrible experience, and a wake up call to exactly what it was I willing wanted to do in terms of a career. I don’t want to help people who refuse to learn, and I don’t want to be in a position where I am forced to fix issues as fast as possible, even if it means having to be sloppy about it. To cut a long story short, I continually fell in and out of a bitter relationship with my passion. I questioned my true desire to do the thing I knew best and wondered if it was possible that technology wasn’t what I truly loved, but rather, something I decided was what I loved simply because I had invested so much time into it.

I continue wondering if my skills with technology are due in part to pure knowledge, or actually finding something that I am innately good at. Is there such a thing as a passion that everyone was made for? Does everyone even have a passion that they can call their own, or is it simply a benefit for a select few? I will never truly know the answers to these questions, and of course, know if my mother herself found her passion as well. Moving forward I will at some point come to an impasse, and be forced to decide if I am truly doing something I love, or if I am simply telling myself that for comfort sake.