After reading the first few replies here and thinking about how to think about this for myself, I wanted to solidify my thoughts into a post, since writing helps me think and having an audience causes me to structure things properly. Sorry if it comes off as ego stroking or cheesy, this is kinda my pre game prep talk to myself
I mentioned working in a factory for the past ten years, actually in this “10 year” span I’ve had 2 different jobs, I did 7 years at my former employer and I’ve been with my current employer for a little over 4 now. I left on good terms from my last job just because I needed a change, my loose plan was to go to Thailand to study muay thai (even though I had no martial arts background or training whatsoever), just to get in shape to join the military and find some sort of purpose that way. So, never having even been on a commercial flight before I made the international trip alone to a little camp a couple hours away from Bangkok. I stayed there a few months before my funds dried up, which happened much faster than I expected, but still I had some eye opening experiences and don’t regret the journey.
The first lesson I learned there was how to relax. I never thought about relaxation as a skill until my trainers taught me how to do it, they said my movements were strong, but that I kept my body too tight and it was getting in my own way. To just relax and let my natural strength come out instead of trying to force it. Thinking about it here now as I type this I can see that I’ve been doing this same thing with my programming studies to perhaps an even greater degree… forcing, controlling, programming in tight small movements. I’m going to try relax more and let my studies flow more naturally from here on, I think. Over there, though, I went from someone who got nosebleeds and blackouts from being over stressed (for no good reason) to being able to deal with life in a much more fluid way.
The second lesson I learned was that I’m smart in my own way. My family, friends, and school teachers had told me growing up that I was smart, but I never understood what they meant. I have never had a good long term memory, but a pretty good short term one. So I could cram for tests and pass with good grades no problem, but ask me about what I learned in a few months and Hah! yeah right. So I always thought when people praised me that they were praising this gimmick.
Well, in Thailand no one knew me and there were no tests. I got lucky over there and ended up with an awesome roommate for a few weeks, a software engineer from France who had a nervous breakdown and decided to travel the world for a few years just seeking adventure. He also played my favorite game: Go. Every night after training I would fire up my laptop and play a few rounds against an AI opponent, he saw this, expressed that he played too, and from then on we played against each other instead. He had studied the game in university as part of his studies on AI, which before the advent of AlphaGo had been considered one of the greatest benchmarks for the strength of a bot since before then it had never been able to compete with a high level human player. He beat me once, but the rest of the time I had his number. This fascinated him, he told me that he was not expecting a challenge. He ended up having some curiosity about how my brain works, which made me feel good and wonder a bit about that myself.
The second ego booster came as I was leaving the camp when my budget ran out. The camp manager was kinda crushed. A nice sized group of the fighters and coaches in the camp would often get together at night and kick back a couple beers in front of the TV (a ritual I didn’t join in since I just drank water usually to conserve money). The night before I left, though, I decided to go out and join them. He told me I showed more improvement in a shorter time than any fighter he’s ever trained before, which floored me cause I thought I sucked. I stated this and he said no, that with another couple months I could have been a professional. I still doubt this, but its what he said, along with that he had me a televised fight lined up in a month that he was going to have to cancel. He really tried to get me to stay on until then, but I really had no way of doing so.
So I returned from Thailand relaxed, confident, and completely broke. I quickly got a job just to pay the bills at my current employer. After a couple months of settling in I talked to a military recruiter and was told I didn’t meet the requirements to get in, for reasons I won’t go into. So, I just continued working. And working. And working… Until here I am, casting these thoughts out into the internet void, bouncing them off of what is surely one of the most supportive yet sometimes brutally honest communities on the net. I’m not normally the type to do this, I don’t usually write anything for strangers to see, but this has been an invigorating and insightful process for me.
After looking at my past ventures, thinking about my strengths and what I’m capable of, do I think I have what it takes? In a year, can I go from where I am now to a new career? I think so. I have the magic sauce.
Thank you all for your replies and insights, this has all helped me immensely. If anyone is out there just reading from the shadows, thank you too because you know what, 2 days ago I was one of you, and when this thread is collecting dust I’ll be one of you again, hunkered down grinding away and occasionally coming up for a glimpse of humanity. Thinking about it, maybe I’ll post a little bit more in the future (in smaller chunks), because this has felt really good. Take note of that, my bretheren in the shadows, and consider trying it yourselves perhaps.