I have the weirdest geek obsession

I just discovered CMMI and I’m fascinated by it. Why have I never heard of this before?

I don’t know that being a Project Management Geek is better than being a Star Wars Geek, but that’s what I am. I’m buying and reading books about PM in my spare time. I love reading articles about this stuff. I’m getting a masters in it just because I enjoy studying the subject and becoming better at its practice.

I’ve always hated the concept of “follow your passion, find your place.” I don’t think we need to have passion to find a place or be happy. But I’m discovering, after studying this subject for a year, that I may just be passionate about PM. I didn’t think I was passionate about anything, but I really love this subject, and I don’t want to do anything else with my career.

It’s too bad that this means I feel like the biggest nerd in the world. At least I’m not alone.

Dropping Out – Part 2

I’ve had a night to talk with April and sleep.

I.

When April and I were first getting together (longer ago than I thought… 4 years now? 4.5?), I was questioning the value of a college degree. I had decided to pursue a career with Computer Services at Missouri State University, and the IT industry doesn’t seem to care a whole lot for degrees. Experience and knowledge were important, and demonstrable expertise were far more valuable than a degree or even a certification. Therefore, I was considering laying off the diploma-track and pursuing certs to make myself more attractive to Computer Services.

April was adamantly against that pursuit. As she put it last night, until very recently she has had the college diploma on a pedestal. People ought to pursue and achieve it, and those that didn’t were worse for it. I pressed her on this years ago, pointing out people who were perfectly happy and content to work jobs where a degree was not required, and I asked why, in their cases, should they get a degree? She didn’t have an answer, but maintained it was important.

It has always been assumed that I would go to college and get a degree. My family, my friends, everyone around me… it’s just What You Did. For the last several years, I haven’t really had any friends who weren’t in college, and I greatly respect them and the education I have received. I was very proud of going to college myself–neither of my parents had, and only my sister had (and it took her longer than it is taking me). I was going to Do It Right. I went right after high school, didn’t get anyone pregnant, was getting a degree…

II.

The thought of not finishing my degree program does not make me happy. I was pretty upset when faced with the prospect last night.

But the thought of finishing my degree program makes me equally unhappy. What’s more, looking down the road, I don’t foresee its completion as bringing happiness. I feel like I am trapped between unhappiness and unhappiness in this.

So when was the last time I was happy and fulfilled? I have certainly been happy in circumstances, whether spending time with friends or laughing with April, but I haven’t felt happy and fulfilled in life since just before I broke my collarbone.

And what was unique about that time? The semester had just ended and I had more time to write. I was writing for an hour or two daily and six hours on Saturday, and what’s more, I had the prospect of more time for writing in less than a month. ((April and I were traveling a lot for different events at the time, and I was going to have lots of time to write after that travel concluded. Unfortunately, the final weekend of travel, I broke my collarbone and could no longer write.)) I felt like I was finally doing something, and being productive. My life was worthwhile.

III.

As April realized that a diploma is not everything in the world, she said, “Finishing your degree will not make you a better person.”

I wrote last night that I didn’t want to be defined by my degree, but I wasn’t able to articulate that well until after she and I talked more late last night. The thing is, for the last several years my college education has been a waste of time. Except for my Buddhism class a year ago, I haven’t learned anything. For the last several years, I have been showing up, putting in my time, and waiting to get my degree.

Therefore, the degree has come to represent a waste to me. I have wasted years waiting to get this stupid piece of paper, and for what? When I think of everything I could have been doing for the last several years, ((I took most of my major classes early in my college career because I enjoyed them most, so the last few years have been almost 100% General Education.)) it makes me sick. On one hand, if I’m not getting the degree, that spent time was a waste. On the other, it was a waste anyways, and going for another two years isn’t going to change that. It will just extend the wastefulness.

I don’t want to be defined by something that is so worthless and wasteful. I want to be defined by something I enjoy and in which I find fulfillment.

IV.

If I meet with my advisor and she goes to the head of the department and he says, “Sure, no problem. You’ve taken the classes, we’ll let you graduate regardless,” then I will complete this semester, and I will complete next semester, and I will graduate.

It’s a matter of convenience, nothing else. Being seven months away, just the rest of this semester and then next semester, is something I can stomach. I can discipline myself and put my life (my very life!) on hold for another seven months.

If that doesn’t happen (and I can’t imagine them waiving what appears to be an important part of the Bachelor’s degree requirements), I will fill out my paperwork today. I will meet with my current professor and explain the situation. I will drop out.

And then I will begin a book of poetry that tells the story of my college career. I will write and seek happiness.

V.

We don’t have much time here. What our are lives worth?

I have one more quote to pull from the Reddit thread I read the other day.

I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.

–Mark Twain

I  haven’t had a degree for ever, and my life has been just fine. Will getting one change that?

Oh, and perhaps one more.

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.

–Dr. Seuss

VI.

I know the value of an education.

I am no longer getting one, whether I’m in class or not. At best, most of my courses since my sophomore or early junior year have been book recommendations. At worst, I have floated through them (while getting decent grades) just to pass the time and reach the goal of a diploma.

Taking another five classes for the sole reason that they are 300-level or above, and that have no bearing on my degree of study, will not be educating me in the things I want, nor in the things I need to pursue my goals. There is no return for that investment.

Perhaps getting a degree would help me get a better job. And perhaps I will be laid off someday, and will curse not having my diploma.

I will have to cross and subsequently burn those bridges when I get to them. Nothing says I couldn’t go back in the future, and if nothing else, I have learned time management and how to Do College. I’m pretty confident I could pull off 21 or 24 hours of college classes without a problem at this point, ((This is assuming I’ve been laid off and therefore don’t have a job–what would be the point of finishing my degree, otherwise?)) and I marvel that more people don’t.

VII.

April has been learning to live and be happy in the moment. I think I’d like to give that a try.

What would a life fulfilled be like? I think I want to learn.

Generations Seeking

lonely

When I look around at my peers, I see a great deal of confusion, insecurity, instability, and/or non-commitment. I first thought that this had to do with comparitive opportunities: where our parents might have had relatively few choices regarding what they might do with their lives (limited by finances, education, family, etc.), my generation(s) seem to have fewer, if any, barriers. Education is relatively easily accessible and affordable, the Internet makes information pervasive and instantly available, and the cost of learning continues to decline.

I began to think that, if we are unable to decide what we want to do with our lives, it isn’t because we don’t have the opportunity to do what we like. Rather, it’s because we see and experience so much we enjoy that we can’t settle on what we want to do. Despite this initial conclusion, however, it didn’t seem to fit. We could do a little of everything, or settle on something, and enjoy our lives, but I don’t see a lot of people who are satisfied. Rather, most everyone I know continues to yearn for something else, usually something indefinable.

While conversing with April about this topic, we came upon an interesting thought. Our parent’s generation (labeled as the Baby Boomers, from which both Generations X and Y really sprung) were a group of independent, centralized small families. Following World War II and especially the Vietnam War and subsequent political fallout, there was a move away from the larger community, with a greater a focus indoors on the household, on the family, and on isolationism.

I believe that growing up in this setting has instilled in our generation a deep and abiding desire for community that we might neither understand nor acknowledge. We know that we are unsatisfied, that we want something more, but we’re not finding it in money, materialistic goods, education, careers, etc. We want a family, but we want more than the nuclear family of our parents.

For a lot of people, though, I think that desire has been associated with negative experiences from our childhoods to the extent that people are hesitant to seek out the community they desire. A dislike of “organized religion,” or organized-anything for that matter, leaves people in a place where they cannot get the satisfaction and help they need. And so people remain unsatisfied, frozen, and insecure.

And if one isn’t put-off by an organized group (and let’s face it, someone has to bring people together for there to be a community; there has to be a core before anything else can form), their hesitance tends to come from other insecurities. We become afraid to invest in people because either we might leave or they might. College-age students in particular struggle with this, because their time in any location is limited: once they graduate, get a job, etc., they’re gone and those relationships are left behind.

Or, in perhaps the most self-destructive state, we do not seek out community because we feel selfish doing so. We don’t feel like we’re worthy of friendship, or we feel like we’re imposing on others by seeking them out. We are hurt by our loneliness, and then hurt ourselves further because we cannot trust others to help. We do not seek help and so degenerate into self-imposed isolation and depression.

Those of us who are secure, and have found our communities, have an obligation to reach out to others and alleviate their loneliness. Some people might not know what they are seeking, but they will know when they have found it. All we have to do is welcome them with love and the rest will take care of itself.

Image by: mrjamin