Something ends, something begins

The past couple of weeks have been intense. Not in the usual busy sense of the word, but more in regard to the internal storm of thoughts and conflicts arising in my mind. I think it’s called growth. 

As we look at our lives trying to assess whether where we are headed is where we want to be, I think it is most crucial to establish what our values are. It may sound simple, but to me this is quite a demanding task. After all, it requires us to look deep inside. It is not what our family thinks is good for us. Not what our friends are posting on social media. Not what we’ve been programmed to think by society. Not what our colleagues are chasing. It is what we, ourselves, think is important to us. Stripping our minds from all that external thinking required some practice, patience, and lots of self-exploration. I thought establishing those values a few years ago through therapy was a job well done, and that all I had to do from then on was course-correct to stay on track. Oh, how naive.

My number one value a couple of years ago was freedom. The things I associated with it were running my own business, not answering to anyone but my users/customers/audience, being able to work where and when I want, on my own terms. I considered working for someone else long term the ultimate failure. I also wanted to help others. I felt this deep need to create useful products that could make a difference for people’s mental health and wellbeing. The cost of achieving that didn’t matter. I used to think I needed to be always productive, always working, always busy. I used to take the concept of having a family for granted. 

As I write these words, I feel uncomfortable. These values feel strange, almost embarrassing. How could I ever place my family, my parents, my wife so low? How could I strive for any goal at the cost of my own wellbeing, both mental and physical? How could I alienate myself from everything I didn’t consider useful or productive? How could I be so very self-centred? Well, I could. But what is life if not a constant change?

I realise now some of these values were ‘inherited’. I’ve spent my childhood watching my parents start countless new businesses, and hearing my dad complain about his employers. Then my first job was an intense (and somewhat traumatising) experience in the startup world. I wanted to be like my role models. I wanted to wear myself to the ground working towards my dreams. I wanted validation. A confirmation that I was a worthy, productive human being. At the same time I kept denying myself the things I always wished for, consciously or not.

Having realised so many of the forces pushing me were not actually coming from within, it was time to reevaluate my life. Over the past weeks I made a heartbreaking decision to quit my startup, the dream I had nourished for 7 years, and worked tirelessly on for the past 3. I decided to finally commit to the childhood dream of making games, quickly explored a few years ago, then dropped for the sake of said startup. I decided to quit my job and join a company that was more aligned with what I want to do and what I believe in. I realised being proud of the work I do, and growing in the areas that interest me matter to me too much to forsake them in the name of a shorter week at a job that makes me miserable. I realised obsessively chasing goals meant missing out on time spent with my wife, my family, or on my hobbies. It made me physically sick and mentally burnt out, which I am still recovering from. I realised there is true wisdom in balance, and that’s what I want to commit to now.

Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash