Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Land of Opportunity

This July 4th, I want everyone to remember how lucky we all are to be living in the United States of America. A place where anything is possible. A place where you can be an archaeologist, ski instructor, marine biologist, sustainable business consultant, chauffeur, and mobile app businessman all in less than 4 short years. A place where if you can dream it, you really can make it happen.

I read an article the other day, written by Tim Kreider that really made me think about the recent life-bending decision I've made. This article, aptly named "The 'Busy' Trap" delves into the world of someone who has "chosen" to be "busy" and why so many people have mindlessly made that decision.

I encourage you all to read it. Here's the opening paragraph:

"If you live in America in the 21st century you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are. It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing: 'Busy!' 'So busy.' 'Crazy busy.' It is, pretty obviously, a boast disguised as a complaint. And the stock response is a kind of congratulation: 'That’s a good problem to have,' or 'Better than the opposite.'"

That first paragraph immediately drew me in because I have always been on the responding side and I always default to that "stock response" of "Better than the alternative!" or "Good to hear." Those of you that I have spoken with on a regular basis have heard me say this time and time again.

I never really understood how people could be so "busy." I lived in a world with so much time that I rarely knew what to do with it all. A world where the only thing that stopped me from doing something was a sunrise or sunset, and even that didn't usually do it. In the lifestyle I led, my job was easier than recreation. In a sense, recreation was more my job than my actual job. Competition in my world up until this point was based on how good you were at recreating and my world is about to take a complete 180.

Always being on the "not-so-busy" end of the conversation slowly ate away at my confidence in the lifestyle I was leading. "Am I doing something wrong, here? Why am I not as busy as these people?" As a chauffeur at one of two 5-star, 5-diamond properties in all of Colorado, I was making decent money, I had a good (actually, amazing) group of friends, a great place to live and the opportunity for fun was always in high supply. But I began to crave more. "More of what?" you may ask. I'm not quite sure. More feeling of accomplishment, more of this "busy" everyone kept speaking of, I guess. 

On January 1st, 2012, I decided that I was going to make a move before the next winter (because I knew once I started skiing again, I wouldn't budge). I began to put out 10's of applications per week, most of which were for jobs I wasn't qualified for at all; at least, not on paper. I quickly learned there weren't any jobs paying 6-figures to someone that's awesome at skiing and driving escalades. My efforts resulted mostly in no progress and no interviews. Through the few interviews I did have, I always felt like I was defending myself from the condescending tone I got from one interviewer to the next. I could feel the disapproval and misunderstanding they had for my decisions. I was so sick of hearing myself talk about how the economy sucked when I graduated and the company that was going to hire me went into a hiring freeze, blah blah blah....nothing but excuses and explanations for something that just wasn't meant to be. I got depressed and upset that I couldn't break out of this rhythm of seasonal jobs I had been in since graduation. After a few more weeks of nothing else developing, I finally said enough is enough. If I want a change, I can't just hope for it or look for it in this black hole called the internet, I have to live it. So I used the internet for the one thing I knew it was good for...buying a plane ticket. I bought a one-way ticket to a place that I knew next to nothing about, a place where Ol' Blue Eyes said, "If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. It's up to you. New York."

Just a couple of weeks after I bought my plane ticket, the unthinkable happened: I had an interviewer say to me "I admire the decisions you've made." Hearing that was like a glass of water after wandering the desert for 40 days and 40 nights. It was the most refreshing, empowering feeling in the entire world. I felt more ambitious, strong, and confident than I had in months. After the interview was over, I let go a great sigh of relief and with a smile on my face, I thought "This is it, Will. Let's do this." 3 interviews later, I got a job offer with a promising mobile app start-up right in New York City. I couldn't be more excited.

Now, I'm writing this from my girlfriend's 37th floor apartment in Midtown Manhattan with a smile on my face and ambition in my heart. A new chapter has begun for me and what this one holds, I have no idea.

The craziest part about all of this is if Tim Kreider and so many other Americans wanted to get out of "The 'Busy' Trap" so badly, why do I want to get in?

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