Courage, Routines, and Expectations

Questions from Melony Hill’s Writing for My Sanity Therapeutic Writing Workshop, held online.

What is the most courageous thing I’ve ever done. How did it make me feel?

I think this question was asked before, and my answer was to stand up for myself and file for divorce.

I think one of the second most courageous things I’ve done was switching my major when I was in college. I had gone to school for engineering, with the goal of being a robotics engineer for NASA. I had been inspired by my father, who had worked for a submarine company called Hydrospace doing drafting work, and by documentaries I’d seen about the Canadarm, a gigantic robotic arm that lifts satellites in and out of space shuttles.

However, I struggled in some of my classes, especially the math-heavy ones. I had skipped the 3rd grade when I was younger, and had always had this sense that I was permanently set back because I hadn’t completed memorization of my multiplication tables. Though I excelled in the drafting classes (in which we had to imagine and draw 3-dimensional objects and parts) and in the hands-on building and manufacturing labs, I flailed in the mathematics and circuits classes.

At one point, my mathematics professor, Angela Hare, brought me aside for some out-of-class tutoring, and while we toiled over equations, asked me if I’d be happy doing an engineering job. She had mentioned in class earlier that it was important to love what you were doing as a profession, because it would mean that you wouldn’t work a day in your life. This had stuck with me. I realized that if I didn’t get paid a huge sum of money for engineering work, that I wouldn’t really be happy. I thought I would be designing robots, but the majority of engineering was really crunching numbers and testing materials to make things designers dreamed up work.

At that same time, playing around in graphics programs as a kid, had slowly become a hobby. People would request me to design them t-shirts, logos, and had been building websites. However, until some friends in a circuits class insisted I look into it, I had no idea it could be a profession I could make a living with. The more I researched and prayed about it, the more I felt like God had given me gifts and a passion for creation that I wasn’t truly making use of.

After a lot of praying, research, and learning as much as I could about graphic design, I finally made the decision to switch majors. I was terrified to tell my parents. Design was a much less well-earning job than engineering, and I knew how much my parents had sacrificed so I could go. And, I felt like I was following in my father’s footsteps. When I called, my father was silent for a moment, and then started cheering! He told me all about how he had also done graphic design work when he was younger, and had a full portfolio of work that he later showed me. I had no idea!

It was still a struggle to do, because many of the scholarships I was receiving were only good for 4 years of college, and I was already 2 years into the engineering major. But, despite very few of my credits transferring, I managed to work extra had and test out of as many things as I could, and graduated on time!

What kinds of routines or habits limit my everyday life?

I really feel like my life is so spur of the moment so much of the time, that I always feel like habits and routine are what help me to be the most productive. I’m constantly having to reign in some of my creativity so that I actually get things done and get paid for them, because otherwise I just forget! The limits of routine and habit actually help me to focus.

Sometimes I will do certain things out of habit just so I don’t have to think about them too much and so they’re not a distraction. For example I imagined what the most perfect breakfast would be, and so most of the time I make that nearly every day. I love it, and I don’t get bored of it, and so shopping is super easy because I just buy the same things all time. There are variables in it, like whatever berries are in season, but limiting my breakfast to a healthy, regular, fantastic meal, means my day gets kicked off in such a great way.

Am I living according to the expectations and dreams of others or myself? How do I distinguish the from each other?

I’m far to much a recalcitrant to live by other people’s expectations. I thrive at forging my own path, clearing my own way of doing things.

However, I have learned that sometimes there are others who have gone before that can teach me about my own journey, and point out roots and stumbling blocks that could trip me up.

That doesn’t mean I still won’t go and crash my own way through the jungle, but sometimes it will help me learn new ways of swinging the machete!

Share what you think with me.