Crisis or epiphany? My quarter-life something

I’m in a bit of a funk right now.  There’s really no tiptoeing around that fact.  I could list the reasons why and that list would run a mile long, but it inevitably comes down to one thing.

I miss freedom.  And I miss the uncertainty that freedom brings, because sometimes, uncertainty is the catalyst for your most exciting memories.

I’m not one who enjoys being still.  Quiet nights at home?  I can deal with them but I’d rather not.  Give me a sport to play, a movie to watch or a random car trip, please.  Maybe I’ve got some serious ADHD going on?  I don’t know.  At this point, I just thought there’d be more. But here I am, at 25 – working every weekday, crashing when I get home, and going out on the weekend to forget about the past five days.

I despise this cycle.  Falling into it has left me feeling like I’ve given up, like I’m not living life to the fullest.  And I understand, sometimes this path is necessary.  It’s a sacrifice you make to pay your way through night school or put food on the table for your kids.  I, however, have no such tie-downs, so I’m left wondering – what on Earth am I doing?  The answer?  Trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.  Trying to make my wishes and desires conform to what the world thinks is “responsible”.

Somewhere in between my usual outing downtown on Friday and reading Vagabonding on Saturday, it hit me.  Things have gotten far too routine for me to bear and I need to do something drastic.

By the time this post goes live, I will have given my two-weeks’ notice.  I will go back to freelancing and consulting from home, just as I did last year – but with a twist.  My work is location independent, and I plan on taking advantage of that.  Fully.  I’m not handcuffed to a desk here or anything.  What’s stopping me from working from the library or a cafe?  Or, to be a bit more wild… Thailand?  Nothing really.

So here I go.

What’s next?

With Abuzz development winding down (after a small delay), I’ve been wondering what project I’ll take on next.  This isn’t to say that Abuzz won’t be improved upon and future releases won’t come out – the app will still own some of my life.  But what will own it after that?

I could do another iPhone app.  I have some ideas I’ve been kicking around and it doesn’t look like anyone else is doing them.  Plus, after Abuzz, I feel confident that I could manage such a project and do so more smoothly.  That route is open, but I’m currently looking in a different direction.

I want to do something disruptive.

One for another

Little known fact: in 2004, I moved and became a South Carolinian.  Leaving PA was something I had always wanted to do and I had no intention of returning.  Then something funny happened.

A goal got in the way.

I was going to put myself through college and, well, I was still considered an out-of-stater.  That means school is twice as expensive.  I had been admitted to Winthrop University, but I shelved that and came back to the bitter cold of Harrisburg.  I worked a few months as a temp for the PA Dept. of Labor and Industry, went to HACC and eventually transferred out to IUP.  If you know me, you know how that story ends.

Sometimes you have to give up something you want to get something else you want.  That’s life.

(Don’t get me wrong, I still plan on moving out of PA someday – I’m not built for this weather.)

What a terrible game

May I pause from my posts about tech and write a little about the Eagles/Cowboys game tonight?  Thank you.

There is one word that sums up Philly’s performance tonight – disgraceful.  With a first-round bye, a home playoff game and the NFC East crown on the line, the Eagles came out and played more like a 4-11 team than an 11-4 team.  Dumb penalties, an out-of-sync offense and the inability to cover Jason Witten all played huge roles.

I’m an Andy Reid fan, don’t get me wrong.  However, a lot of his decisions baffled me.  First off, Jeremiah Trotter.  I love Trot.  He’s an Eagle through and through, but he has one major flaw – he’s SLOW.  Witten was wide open on multiple plays and #54 was trailing far behind.  Trotter is in there to stop the run, yet the Cowboys had a huge night on the ground.  We need another LB in there, pronto.

Next, the play calling before the half.  The Eagles had a minute and two timeouts to drive down the field and put some much-needed points on the board.  They wound up calling some short passing plays, settling for four and five yards when they needed 20-yard chunks.  The sense of urgency just wasn’t there, something we seem to say about them constantly this time of year.

Finally, the penalties.  The Eagles are giving games away by committing dumb penalties.  Sheldon Brown’s pass interference wasn’t even needed – Witten was going to be short of a first down and likely would have been stopped had he caught the ball.  There were tons more.  False starts.  Holding.  Roughing the passer.  The list goes on.  If the Eagles hope to win next week’s game, they need to go in there focused.  No dumb mistakes and no killer penalties.

I was fairly confident going into this game.  The Eagles usually play lights-out football in big games like this, but they really laid an egg here.  A goose egg, as in, zero points.  The offense needs to show up next weekend in-sync.  The defense needs to become the ferocious group that terrorized opposing quarterbacks in the past.  Reid needs to let his players know that penalties are inexcusable.  All of these things need to happen if Philly has a shot to get past the Cowboys in the first round.

Okay, back to tech.

What are your goals for 2010?

I have a few – some large, some small.  I’m hoping that putting them out there for the world to see will help me follow through.

  1. Write at least one blog post per day.
  2. Write a full-length novel.
  3. Attend at least three tech conferences/unconferences.
  4. Shape Abuzz into a must-have search application.
  5. Pay off at least half of my student loans.

What are yours?

When fighting back is acceptable

First things first – read this post.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait for you.

Now, let me try to figure out where you stand.  You could be in one of three camps:

  1. You respect Chris Brogan and you’re put off by that post,
  2. You think the blogger is raising some valid points, or
  3. You just don’t care

If you’re in Camp #1, you’re thinking and feeling the same way that I do.  If you sifted through the comments, you probably saw a lot of other people feeling the same way.  You might have even seen my comment.

I thought long and hard about what I wanted to say.  I was definitely going to say something – there’s no question about that.  I thought about the various avenues I could take.  Most social media types would tell us to be courteous, right?  Maybe I could leave a comment that politely acknowledged something in the post that had validity and then calmly make my case against the rest.  Yeah, that’s what I could do!

Nah.  I’d rather call him a tool.  That’s being real.

While we’re building all these relationships, we need to remember to maintain them, too.  That means having that person’s back.  If someone were to talk down one of my close friends, I would not let that fly.  When someone launches an unwarranted attack on a respectable guy like Chris, I won’t let that fly, either.

The same goes for my tweeps, my FriendFeeders, my PodCampers, BarCampers, blog readers and anyone else I like and respect.  If we’re going to push for authenticity and trumpet for more emotion by means of social media, then we need to start being more human.  I’m a pretty considerate guy and I try to be as nice as possible as much as possible.

But sometimes, you can’t be.  Sometimes you need to fight back.

Transparency is a joke

At least, it is for regular people. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have felt the need to create another blog where I could 100% be myself. I went back through my Xanga the other day and I genuinely miss that writing. I miss being able to talk like I’d talk to one of my best friends. So I decided to take all reasons why a new blog was a bad idea and totally ignore them. Blog = created.

We’ve created two worlds, now – I hope you all realize that. Before all these social networks crept into our lives, we already had two lives – our work/class lives and our personal lives. Social media has now taken the professional version of ourselves, usually kept in an 8-hour cage, and stretched it out to encompass almost the entire rest of our days.  We’re hiding our Myspace accounts.  We’re changing our last names on Facebook.  And if you’re like me, your own personal blog isn’t even yours – it’s a place for people to come and read thoughts from the “professional” you.  Ugh.  We do all of this just so we can keep what little of our lives we have left.  It sucks.

Personally, I’d love to be done with the nonsense, but too many “brilliant” people think that they can judge someone’s morality and work ethic by looking at some drunk camera phone pictures taken on the weekend.  The irony is that we’re all probably doing the same things – so why does anyone get the right to judge?

I wish I could just throw a link out there and say, “Here’s where you can find me writing uncut and without reservation,” but it would be tied to me through this site and, well – you know why I can’t do that.  I think we shouldn’t have to fear the reprocussions of what we say, but free speech is only free if everyone else is playing along.  Right now, they aren’t.  Until they are, we’ll all continue to hide who we really are online.  Transparency is a joke and will continue to be a joke until we all stand up to this crap.

Go down swinging

Anyone who follows me on Twitter probably knows that I haven’t been having very much fun lately.  I’m the Fundraising Chair for Alpha Phi Omega, a community service fraternity here at IUP.  I have what should be a pretty easy job description – make the fraternity money.  I had a few ideas of things I wanted to do that I feel would have been pretty successful but, unfortunately, things got mixed up along the way.

We started the semester almost broke due to poor money management from previous officers.  This meant that I had very little money to spend in order to make money.  We decided to make working security at Heinz Field events mandatory for every brother and pledge.  This meant that I not only had to be a fundraiser, I had to become an expert in scheduling and logistics.

On top of the Heinz Field requirement, we also required that brothers and pledges complete three fundraising hours for the semester.  So not only was I scheduling everyone to go to Pittsburgh to work security, I was also trying to plan other fundraising events – just so people could meet their requirements.  Of course, there were snags along the way; Heinz Field switched security firms on us, we had to go through all new training with their new company and not everyone could make it.  I was forced to try and strike a fair compromise between those who had already worked games and those who wouldn’t be able to.  Things got messy, so I played the cards I was dealt – even though they weren’t that great.

And here I am today.  I feel that I made the best out of a poor set of circumstances, yet at the same time, I’m really disappointed that I didn’t get to do a lot of the things I wanted to do.  We missed out on doing Homecoming shirts for the first time in who knows how long.  I wanted to experiment with online sales as a type of fundraiser, but again, I felt like I had to focus more on creating physical events so that people could meet our fundraising requirements.  I was bitter for a day or two, but I’ve grown to accept it as a life lesson.  Not everything is going to turn out the way I want.

So what can YOU take away from this?  We all have dreams, goals, ideas, ambitions, wishes, wants, needs – but sometimes, things don’t go the way we planned.  I’m not telling you that you’ll never hit that homerun someday, but base hits are okay, too.  Aim for the rafters, but don’t feel like a double or triple constitutes failure.

And when you strike out completely, go down swinging.