Find a seat and welcome to Part II.
After charting out and detailing a list of personal interests in Self Discovery Part I, I took the opportunity to use these interests to help me construct the bigger picture in life. I wanted to discover if there were linkages between what I enjoy to do and what I ultimately will do with my life and career. From my past post I discovered five personal interests: 1)Language Acquisition, 2) Gaining Cultural Knowledge, 3) Sports, 4) Small Business/Entrepreneurship, and 5) Communication. I consider each point a block to build upon to become a better, smarter, and more engaged person in the world and the society I live within. I imagine there has to be a possibility that I can take these interests and combine them all to create an ideal lifestyle. That being said, I will continue to dive deeper into creating these thoughts into sound goals to strive for as I move forward in life.
It just sounds awful, “I have to go to work”. As if someone has chained you to another human being and is forcing you to collect Taco Bell wrappers scattered across the shoulder of the highway. One of the best parts about being in the Peace Corps is that 95% of mornings I wake up with an energetic disposition. I feel a hop in my step that was never quite there before. I love what I do because freedom comes first. I am not being micromanaged. No one is telling me what to do, when to show up, what to wear, how to address someone correctly in an email, or how long I need to be present in the office. I think it is clear that because you are present in the office, does not mean you are working or are being productive!
In 2010, I remember having a brief conversation with a colleague in Chicago that went as follows:
Me: “Hey XYZ, I’m taking off. What are you up to?”
XYZ: “Not much, just hanging around.”
Me: “Oh okay, you have something to finish?”
XYZ: “No, not really. I just want to stay late.”
Me: “Why? You have nothing to deliver.”
XYZ: “Ehhh, I know… just don’t want to leave before they do.” (pointing to their managers)
Me: (Short laugh) “Alright, well good luck with that. Good night.”
One thing that I really cannot stand about typical corporate culture is the idea that being present in the office means that you are working. I feel like we have all figured out that multiple windows being opened on the office computer probably means that the multi-tasking being exhibited is truly just one distracting them self from the 30 minute assignment they would like to stretch out over the 4 hours past lunch. My guess is that more than half the people that visibly come early and stay late are those that also log the most hours on Facebook, Pinterest, and Gchat and are constantly looking over their shoulders in fear of when their boss will arrive at their cube.
Since working at the business incubator, I have realized that work gets done best when I am inspired, free to work at my own pace, and when my mind is clear. That could mean Monday through Friday in between 9-5pm or maybe Saturday night at 2am. The point being is that I am most motivated when I have projects to brainstorm and execute, a creative material to make, a presentation to give, an organization to meet, or when I feel empowered to make my own decisions. What I have learned is that I do not need someone to tell me what to do and tap me on the shoulder every 20 minutes to check-in. Based on this experience of working more freely, I have been 10X more productive. In the future I would like to become my own boss, work on a commission basis as a consultant, or join a small firm that really challenges one another. (This is of course if ESPN does not approach me with an offer to become lead anchor) Bluntly put, I dread the thought of rotting on the cubicle farm. I need to be on my feet, engaging with clients, and tested every day.
End Goal in Work: To be my own boss and work for a purpose that I fully support. I do not care about having mega millions or buying tons of luxurious goods (homes, cars, jewelry, named brand goods, etc.). I feel that will come with outstanding effort. What is most important to me is the concept that I feel empowered, productive, and fulfilled every day I go to that thing called “work” and to be acknowledged for carrying that type of attitude and determination.
Living abroad for one year has taught me a lot about language and culture which I mentioned in Part I, but more importantly it has made me a stronger person. It has made me network more, has taught me to build relationships quickly, to live life in every moment, and to value all of which I have been given in the past. I have learned that I need to be involved in global business, to live internationally during my career, to travel to other countries, to meet and work with people from various cultures, and to enjoy the winding road life places me on.
What kills me most about this craving to stay abroad is that my home is perfect. Chicago, Illinois is my favorite city in the world. I am completely biased, but there is not anything that my hometown does not offer. From the food, to jazz spots, to small cafes… even just sitting on the CTA and going for a ride, it all makes me feel warm inside. I think I love it so much, that I am afraid of spoiling myself too soon. The problem with living there now and probably within the next 3 or so years is that I do not feel I have a purpose there yet. I feel that I can accomplish more right now away from home and would like to invest in helping the emerging parts of the world to flourish. Coming from everything, in my point of view, to less than that has humbled me. No shower today? No problem, I’ll grab a bucket. Too cold in my room? I’ll sleep with a hoodie. No movie theater in site? I’ll relax with a book. There’s so many parts about living in a different world, that can open your eyes to who you really are. When I was living and working full-time in Chicago, I felt like a robot, a pawn in the system. Walk to and from work, stare at the computer all day, eat dinner, watch TV, stare at the computer some more, then pass out, and do it again tomorrow. Here, at least if I have a less than productive day I can still visit the front desk and practice Romanian, I can still crack open a book I have being meaning to read, or I can still message some high schoolers to get a basketball game going. I love when I am asked by locals, “Do you like Moldova?” The answer is always yes. I am finally tapping into myself to find the answers and I feel completely free from institutionalization and the hyperactivity that my life once involved.
When the day comes for me to say goodbye to my Peace Corps service in Moldova, I know it is going to be a very hard and heart-felt day. It will be due to the fact that I have established some great friendships and connections, have made tremendous strides in growing personally, and have made a positive impact on others’ lives. As of right now, my completion of service (COS) is set for August, 2014. However, Peace Corps allows its volunteers to extend their service time. I have begun thinking about the prospect of extending for the sake that I would like to continue growing our business incubator in Leova and I would also like to have as much time as possible to become fluent in both the Romanian and Russian languages. I see both languages being hard skills to place in my back pocket, as well as just being very challenging and interesting battles to tackle full force.
After the Peace Corps, I still have one year remaining in the International Master of Business Administration program at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. I will be choosing my own classes and have the option of studying at one of their international partner schools. In September 2012, I spoke with my academic advisor and told her that I would like to fulfill my final year of the IMBA program at the ESCP Europe Business School in Madrid, Spain. I would like to return to where I left off in Spanish, while in Mexico, and could not think of a better location to learn and practice. Not only for the sake that I would like to become fluent in Spanish, but because I would like to continue to live and discover other European cultures. What makes the opportunity even more interesting is that the entrepreneurship professors at USC have been known to allow students to do independent research projects for a semester. This would further help me discover if being an entrepreneur is the correct career path for me. Overall, the different languages, experiences, challenges overcame, and knowledge will allow me to have a very diverse skill-set and I cannot wait to use it and build upon it for the rest of my life.
End Goal in Travel: To earn my IMBA diploma, to have mastered 3 foreign languages: Spanish, Russian, and Romanian, and to have lived and traveled abroad in multiple countries.
I know I am 25 years old and that it may be weird that I am forecasting the rest of my life, but I just cannot help but to look down the road and see what is waiting for me on the final turn. The fact of the matter is that I have made many mistakes thus far in just 25 years. Some small ones and some life changing ones, as well. I am not proud of most of them but I feel that each has taught me valuable life lessons. I probably should not have drank that beer, danced with that girl, thrown that egg, told that lie, or said those words. Each failure I chalk up as something I will try to never do again. My hope is that I minimize the gigantic ones immediately by simply making smarter decisions. If my brain says no, my body will oblige. Before acting, I need to stop and think of the consequences. Instead of reacting, take my time, settle down, and then decide. I want to be respected, to be loved, and to be genuine to others. I want to be able to guide people, to be an example for youth, and to inspire those to follow their dreams. These goals started yesterday and the day before. I may not be able to please everyone and some people may not like who I am, but I want to know that I tried my best in being a good person.
I want to live a healthy life and to be fit for as long as I possibly can. I will continue to exercise daily, not eat too much crap (unless you hand me a Kuma’s burger or some suicide wings from Buff Joe’s), and to have very open and loving relationships with my family, friends, and co-workers. Finally I am starting to realize that a lot can be accomplished and seen in one life and the more years I can tack on, the better. And when the time comes with the right lady, I want to fully enjoy building something together wherever we may take it. Although, I first want to make them work for that cup of coffee and kiss good night.
Finally, I want to be a student of life. There are so many people, activities, ideas, and places open to explore. I want to see how many I can reach and experience. The possibilities excite me. I never want to stop learning or trying. I want to be okay with failing, to be wrong, to be judged for saying what I wanted to say, to cry in the face of others, to be embarrassed, and to be able to take someone’s wrath and criticism.
End Goal: To have been the best person I could possibly have been, to have made my family proud, to have learned from my mistakes and corrected them, to have shared my love with those who have earned it, and to have never stopped being a student in life.