Friday, September 17, 2010

Into The Blue, Part IV: Sink or Swim

A complicated last minute move with several major catastrophes along the way. Alone in a new city vastly different from either of the previous cities I'd lived in. An intimidating new job two positions higher than I'd been in at my previous job. My first hurricane. A new apartment that ended up being in the slums of Halifax. No furniture, not even a blanket or pillow. Haunted by the memories of my previous life I'd left behind. These were dark times indeed.

When I left off at the end of my previous entry things were looking pretty bleak. The toll of it all was weighing heavily on me and I was honestly beginning to think this had all been a mistake... I was looking for a way to move back to Winnipeg or Edmonton, effectively abandoning my dreams for the sake of comfort and familiarity. I was realizing comfort and familiarity are valid things to want in life, and making a sacrifice for those kinds of values is not necessarily a surrender.

These virtues only seemed more important as more and more challenges piled up in my new life in Halifax. My stuff had arrived so it was time for me to move from my cushy corporate apartment downtown near work to the cheap apartment I'd lined up which had turned out to be in the slums, 20 minutes from work if by car. My car still wasn't here yet, and even if it was, there was no parking anywhere downtown so I'd have to bus, which was closer to 40 minutes.

My first night in the apartment was a Saturday, and kind of depressing. A weekend alone. The apartment was completely empty other than a tv, computer and bed. The area was definitely questionable and I wasn't looking forward to the bus ride to work. But as the weekend went on I realized the area wasn't as terrible as I'd feared; it actually seemed pretty quiet at night. The bus ride was one straight shoot from my doorstep to the front door of work, and I had TV and internet hooked up which went a long way in making the apartment feel a bit more like home.

At work I was finally gaining momentum. I was working on a database to roll out to the team for bug filing and tracking. I'd never made a database before, but my experience using BioWare's informed me on what worked, what didn't, and how I'd like one to work ideally.  When the database was complete I ran a studio-wide meeting to familiarize everyone with it, and it went off without a hitch.  I started to get more comfortable with the people at work, and a routine was starting to form. I was even appointed scrum-master for the latest sprint.

That night it really dawned on me. Comfort and familiarity are completely valid things to want in life. So is ambition and adventure. But the two are generally thought of as at odds with each other. But as I lay in my empty apartment wondering if I'd made a huge mistake I realized I'd been here before. As I struggled to adjust to the new levels of responsibility at work I felt something brewing just below the surface. And as I learned the layout of my new city that feeling only grew stronger. Familiarity...

See, this whole time I thought I was trying to adjust to living in Halifax and working at Longtail. I thought I was adjusting to the loss of my old life and the introduction of a new one. I realize now what I'm actually adjusting to is a lifestyle.

I started at the bottom, no schooling or experience, but ambitious to get somewhere in the video game industry. But in this industry, at least until you've made a real name for yourself, you have to be ready to move a lot to get ahead. You have to be ready to face significant challenges and prove your worth to others, and to yourself. This was what I was trying to get comfortable with. And it is in fact becoming familiar.

My first few months in Edmonton I laid in bed wondering if I'd made a mistake. I struggled with a new job, felt completely alone in a new city I didn't know and missed the one I'd left behind... I've done this all before. And it's getting easier.

Over my life, every time I took on a new challenge I always thought of it as the end of one life and the beginning of a new one. I see now that's not the case. Taking on challenges IS life. This is not the beginning or the end, but the very substance of life that makes up the story in between. I'm really beginning to see that when I'm presented with a challenge, I rise to the occasion. When I'm down, I pick myself up. When I fail, I learn from it. And I will never give up. This is life, right now, and I'm learning to live it.  I'm beginning to bet on myself, and it's paying off.

It seems my virtues are not at odds with each other after all. Adventure has become familiar. I've become comfortable with my ambition. I look forward to the day when I'm at a place in my life where I'm satisfied enough to settle down. By my very nature I want to form roots. But in recent years I've discovered another side of my nature. A passionate, determined side which has been starved most of my life, and needed to be let out. Now it's time for reconciliation.

So for now, I take my home with me. I live in the moment. I nurture the seed before planting the roots. Because you can't build a life until you've learned to live.

Written on my iPad.

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