“You must go it alone.” – Alan Watts

A month ago, I graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a B.S. in Computer Science. On paper, that may seem like I have everything under control. To be honest, I couldn’t be more disoriented or confused coming out of college than I am at the moment.

A funny thing happens when you graduate college. Throughout your whole life, up until this point, you had a timeline that you followed. You went to elementary school because you were told to, you went to high school because you had to, you attended university because that’s what everyone else does. But you quickly learn that “what everyone else does” after college is an absolute free-for-all.

Some people choose to find a job close to home. Some find a job elsewhere. Some decide to make a start-up. Some decide to get married. And some decide to make a run for it, ditching society and cultural norms to become a forest hippie (my preferred plan of action).

And whatever you choose is okay.

I recently read the book “The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson. This is arguably the best and worst choice I’ve made since graduation. Manson does a great job of reminding us that we are not special, and that we’re all inevitably going to die. This means giving up the idea of chasing success, because the idea of success doesn’t accurately represent the suffering it takes to get there. We need to get over the idea that we’re inadequate. Not because we’re amazing, but because we actually ARE inadequate, and the only way to ever improve is to accept that we suck. Instead of visualizing the pleasures we want (since most people want the same thing) we need to visualize the problems we want to deal with. For Manson, that meant becoming a broke blog writer after college, because to him, writing was worth the pain of not being financially secure.

As I’ve now made the blasphemous choice to start a T-shirt company, program for fun, photograph everything, write like hell as I’ve wanted to do since I was a child, and take my first real steps to figuring out the problems I want to have, I feel a sense of freedom that I’ve never felt before – the freedom to fail, and the marvelous ability to not give a fuck.

Thanks for the inspiration, Mark. You’re a lovely disappointment panda.

3 comments

  1. Funny you wrote this. I am currently at my job in Destin ,Fl. It is a great job, but extremely stressful. I just started a (get this) vinyl decal/t-shirt company a week ago. It is completely out of my garage. I do custom orders. Anyways.. I am at my job and walked down to the beach. It’s pitch black outside. The waves are crashing against the sand. I close my eyes and smell the salty air. I look into the black horizon and see..Nothing. The total unknown is before me. I look up in the dark sky and look at the many stars. I breathed a sigh and thought how small and unimportant we are. We are all but a speck in this universe. So I say..Take the chance. Do what you love. Travel the world..Make some damn t-shirts! Cause that is exactly what I will be doing! I would rather do what I love and “get by” then hate what I do and be successful. If we play our cards right maybe, just maybe, we can have the best of both worlds. Good luck to you.

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    1. I totally apologize for the incredibly late response. But everything you’ve stated resonated with me so well. Life is scary. Being amongst the giants of the earth – the oceans, the mountains, brings you back to the reoccurring realization that we are, indeed, just a speck in this universe. But how beautiful is it to be a speck? To be able to experience this universe as it unfolds, to be a piece of the greatness and magnitude that exists in this universe? We are a part of it, and it exists through us. So yes, srlnclt89, do what you love! Do things that terrify you, because it’s most likely the greatness of the universe telling you that your potential is inside you, as long as you listen to it. Best of luck to you, I’d love to get an update on how your T-shirt company is doing 🙂

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  2. I am definitely delayed on responding and I apologize. The T-shirt “business” is more in the hobby stage right now then the money making business. My life is swelled with various other responsibilities that I am unable to 100% focus on making t-shirts and such. I have made some awesome creations though! Me and my crew made t-shirts for two separate local bands in the area. It’s awesome seeing how excited other people are at what you create for them. However, currently I am once again at my job in Destin. I am on the beach at two in the morning. I am staring in the dark unknown and smiling the whole time. This “speck” is doing what he loves and shining as bright as I can. Good luck to you too!!!!

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