I’m still trying to break free from the patterns of thinking from my prior life. I used to be driven primarily by the desire to reach goals that were often set for me by others. In this approach, I would have structure in my life, feel a sense of accomplishment when I met my goals, and others would be happy as well. So for 35 years I put my blinders on and trudged towards my goals in discrete, pre-planned steps.
How My Parents Raised Me
A big reason I followed this pattern is because of how my parents raised me. When I was younger, my parents would try to steer me rather than let me explore for myself. I believe this is the reason I grew up without many hobbies outside of video games (my way of escape more than anything else). The more I didn’t want to do something, the more they would try to get me to do it, leading to fatiguing days-long arguments that often would not end until I submitted or demurred. So I withdrew from them in my teenage years as a direct result of their approach with me.
This played out in my career path too. When I was applying for college towards the end of high school, I was undecided about my future major. It seemed like such a monumental decision that could define what I did for the rest of my life. It was so big that I just wanted to keep pushing it off. My strong subjects had always been math and science and my weak subjects were humanities and languages. But I just didn’t know. My parents “strongly encouraged” me to pick medicine (big no) or electrical engineering. I went along with the latter since I didn’t really have a strong conviction either way and it played to my strengths.
Majoring in EE wasn’t a terrible decision and I did pretty well in college. But it wasn’t really a decision I made for myself and it showed. By senior year, I had decided I didn’t want to work as an engineer and I started to look for something else, which turned out to be law. Granted I didn’t know why I wanted to pivot to law, but at least I knew EE as a career was not for me and this was a decision I arrived at on my own.
Fighting the Current
Lately I’ve been thinking about my relationship with my parents a lot as they have been increasingly and annoyingly unrelenting in trying to get me back to the workforce. It’s actually caused quite a bit of friction between us over the past few months. So in part this has been a post to vent.
I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m not working because I’ll only ever work again if it’s something I feel strongly about (and I haven’t found it). My mom’s argument boils down to what society and other people think about someone who isn’t working. That’s obviously not compelling to me. My dad’s best argument doesn’t really make sense. He says I need to work on something I’m passionate about. Duh, that’s what I’m trying to do!
Anyway, their attempted influence feels like a big figurative hand shoving me towards a certain direction. That’s exactly what I don’t need right now as I’m trying to use this time to learn more about myself and my interests. Prior to leaving the law, I did not have much opportunity to do this since I was always so focused on one “goal” or another.
For almost the first time since I was a teenager, my parents have made me want to pull away. They seemingly cannot understand why their actions are actually counterproductive to their goals for me, however well-intentioned. My subconscious is going to subject any perceived outside influence to heightened scrutiny to make sure it is aligned with what I want for myself. Anything short of that means reverting to old habits of letting others dictate what I should do with my life.
Steering My Own Ship
We’ve now been back for almost ten months. Life still feels a little structured due to my wife’s work schedule and the fact that we share a car so I try to drop her off or pick her up. I think about playing golf almost all the time. I played five times last week, but usually play three or four times a week, taking a day off in between rounds. On days I am off (like today), I feel like I haven’t played in ages and look forward to the next round. Yesterday, I played a new-to-me course called the Ranch that is cut into the hills of San Jose. The first 12 holes require pinpoint accuracy to hit over barrancas and up/down significant changes in elevation. It was quite a thrill compared to the usual parkland courses I play.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m overdoing the golf, but thoughts about “what do I have to show for this?” are the result of the inner-voice that I’m trying to quash. If I ever get tired of golf, I’m sure I’ll move on. But not yet. In the meantime, I will try to keep my mind open as to other pursuits and have the courage to pursue whatever grabs my interest.