Thursday, February 19, 2015

Standing at The Crossroads as a Young Twenty-Something

While I don't definitely don't plan on always writing about 'heavy' topics, it seems to be where my mind is lately, so for the time being that's how it's gonna be. Also, I seem to have picked 'Stuff that's on my mind' as a topic theme, which might be normal for writer types, but not thinking of myself as a writer, I wouldn't know about what writers think of as normal, or what they usually talk about.

Anyways, one of the things that I've been thinking about and which I also find intriguing is how it seems like the landscape of my own mind has been evolving at an ever faster pace. This has come to my attention as I think about the things that I was passionate about at different points in my life. I think a lot of people are embarrassed to think about the things they cared deeply about in high school or in middle school, but to me I'm not embarrassed by that thought. I think the only thing that I would regret is how those passions played themselves out, and how I tried to relate to others my passion for things (probably very similarly to how any teenager telling their parents about post-rock music or jackson pollack paintings sounds.)

A lot of the things that fueled my passions at a younger age were heavily influenced by my older brothers (I realized this at a relatively young age too.) The reasons that I became interested in playing basketball or trying to write music or even eventually tried smoking weed was in a large part due to the fact that my brothers did those things and I not only thought of them as cool, but also wanted to emulate a lot of the things that they did. So naturally, when my brothers moved away for school or jobs or whatever, there goes a reevaluation process as to what I wanted to consider as my passion. To this day I still am pretty heavily invested in music and musical culture (although I wouldn't say I'm as passionate about finding new music as I used to be) and I still follow sports a lot (although, yet again, I don't play nearly as much basketball as I used to). But what I do think as changed as I think about those two passions of my teenage self is how I choose to invest my time in them currently as a more grown-up version of Aaron.

I guess what I'm trying to get at is, what determines our passions in life? when is the point that a person can make a truly independent choice about what they are passionate about? or is it always a product of your environment, the people around you and choices you make as a young person? To filter this into one question: Are the things that I, Aaron Stauter, passionate about, the product of my own personal decision or merely from the influence of the people around me?

Since I (and everyone else on earth) grew up with other people around and took cues about life from other people, it seems silly to think that any decision I could make would be purely 'my own decision'. But isn't it weird to think that your passions, the things that ultimately define who you are, are a product of other people, when you're allegedly an independent person with unique thoughts and a unique identity? I personally find that baffling and also really annoying, basically, given a different set of circumstances, I would have become an entirely different person even though I could have theoretically made all the same decisions.

Reading that back, its kind of an obvious conclusion that I'm sure millions of people have already reached, but it is also a conclusion that is vastly interesting to me as I enter a phase in life where I have the power to make a lot of choices in life that will shape the next 20-30 years of my life and how they look. I can chase new passions in life (like, why not woodworking? or skydiving? or writing?), I can dive deeper into the existing passions in my life, or change the angle of entry at which I look at my current passions. I have a lot of free time and energy and some spendable money to explore new things in life and now I have to decide how I want to do that. All of that along with the newfound realization of how much of my passions are influenced by the people around me, so do I make choices that go against the grain of the people around me? do I do something that seems completely off the map? or do I do something similar to the people around me? (not that that is inherently bad, most of those people around me are in my life for a reason, because I want them to be.)

Interesting stuff to think about for sure and I think it will be even more interesting to look back at this in a few years time to see how those ideas develop in my life. But for now, into the great expanse of life I blindly go, hoping to find some interesting things along the way....

'Til Tomorrow

Tomorrow: How'd I become a Data Nerd?

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