This is an excerpt from today’s issue of my weekly newsletter.
I returned to school this week after taking 8 months off, since this January. Before that, I was at UC Berkeley for 3 semesters, and before that, I was out of school for 17 months.
Whenever I come back to school after a break, people like to ask me about the experience. Did you learn what you wanted? Are you ready to go back? Are you going to finish school? My answer is yes, yes, and yes.
I packed a lot into those 8 months. I traveled to 10 different cities in 5 countries before the pandemic pulled me back home. I lost a job, I got a job, I wrote a lot of words, I wrote a lot of code. I found a love, I lost a love. And now I’m back in school.
My overwhelming feeling this week, in this academic reprise, is clarity.
I just now feel like I sort-of know what I’m doing at university, at work, in whatever other activities I engage. I’m starting to know the why’s and the how’s – Why am I in school? Why am I in tech? How should I value my time? My money? I have some of those answers. I’m returning to school to spend my last 2 years with friends, learning things that genuinely interest and move me, and meeting interesting people without the pressures that shadow my work at a job. And I think I knew that before, too, probably. But I feel it now with a renewed sense of clarity. I believe it, this time, when I say those things. This is in no small part because, for a few months, I had stepped out of the stream that used to push me along, and tried to guide myself.
In light of that clarity, my last two years now feel empty, like I was pretending to go through the motions. I suspect there will come a time when I realize this current sense of clarity was also just a fog, and correct myself again. I don’t think that’s a reason to despair. We’re all constantly course-correcting, and we get wiser with time. What we do today might not feel like destiny, but it informs our sense of purpose tomorrow. And over time, we trade opportunities for novelty with clarity of purpose.
In that spirit, this year, I’m enjoying the novelties in front of me, and the clarity of purpose around me. I’m trying to make the most of both. There’s no hurry. Today, there’s much to see, and tomorrow, the fog will lift.
If you enjoyed this piece, you might also enjoy my next post, Travel tips for you and for me.
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