When Life Changes, Success Puts on Different Clothes

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“I didn’t know where I was going until I got there.”

When we were kids, life was so fun and fresh. Maybe it’s because we dived straight into adventure. Because we didn’t think of success or failure in the way we think now.

I’ve always been passionate about creativity. When I was a kid I would draw all over the wardrobe doors, they were pure white just like a blank canvas. Back then we lived in a very small apartment with only one bedroom, and the only wardrobe in our home. Yet my mother didn’t stop me from drawing. She would even encourage me with kind words and compliments, and from time to time she would wash clean the wardrobe doors.

In high school, I developed a passion for the arts. However, I also started to notice that there are things that “I needed to do” in order to succeed in life, and on the other had things I wanted to do. I was studying really hard, and aiming for a very successful career in information science and programming. I even went to national competitions for Math and Physics and had really good results. The problem was, I felt really empty inside. Although everybody was vigorously supporting me to continue on the “path of success”, I felt miserable, and my heart was aching for something more meaningful. I wanted to do art. Deep down I knew, I’m not this person everybody thinks I am. I was thirsty for self-discovery.

We moved to a bigger apartment. I devoted myself to martial arts training. It was really beautiful and refreshing. I felt enthusiastic again. I met new friends, some of them are still some of my best friends. My grades and performance at school slightly lowered, but I was okay. I fell in love with my new passion and became fascinated with this different way of life. After 5 years of training, the passion was still burning and I dreamed of being a professional martial arts teacher. I started putting in even more effort, but instead of more progress, I started to face frustrations. It was a period of emotional turbulence for me. My personal relationships were pushing me to my limits. My pursuits and failures felt painful.

Going to the other extreme, and completely dedicating myself to my passions, wasn’t working as well as I thought it would. There were moments of euphoria, and lot’s of self-discovery that I treasure, but eventually it became too much. I was realizing that just a strong desire will not bring me across the river. I had to do the work. I had to row. I had to go every step of the way. Although I earned my Aikido black belt after 5 years of training, I started to realize that I was very far from being a professional instructor.

I guess especially when we’re young, we are running to meet our goals very quickly, not really having the patience or grit. We get disappointed very easily. We take everything personally and get offended very easily.

My final years at college were a mess. I was late with my exams and didn’t manage to graduate in time with my generation. I was trying to pursue a different career in Animation and Design, which was so different from the programming career that I was always supposed to pursue. I even tried music for a while. I composed and produced 5 original songs, music and lyrics and did a few gigs, but it wasn’t enough. Creative breakthroughs gave me much fulfillment, but I was running out of money. I was stuck in a vacuum between finding a job and finishing my degree but not doing good progress at any of those two.

One day, a former high-school professor met me on the street. He remembered that I was one of the top students in my class during my high school years and was sad to hear I’m not doing so well anymore. He helped me find my first job as a game developer. After starting work, my life started to improve. I got my college degree. I met a girl I’m still happily in love with. I got a small salary raise and started a blog.

If I look back, I can see that my goals and dreams have dramatically changed over the years. I have achieved many things and have many yet to achieve, but that is not the full story. There are so many little moments in between those big goals that are so full of life. This is where most of us miss out. I often remind myself, that although some dreams may die out, you can always have your passion reborn again. Maybe it will be in a completely new form. Maybe it will come to you as something you never did before, but it’s the same underlying quality.

“Success means different things at different times and circumstances. Don’t get attached to ideas.”

To finish off, I would like to share with you some core values that remained with me all the time,
and I believe they add value to a person’s life. Here is a short list:

  1. Keep learning
  2. Polish your skills or develop new ones
  3. Engage with people
  4. Find smarter and/or better ways to solve old problems or repetitive chores
  5. Don’t run away from difficulties
  6. Learn to relax and let go
  7. Find people you can be deeply honest with

Do you have your own core values that have stayed with you for a very long time?