How Do You Define Yourself?

I would say that right now I am in a transitional period of my life. In June 2014 I graduated from the University of Waterloo and am now transitioning into the working world. It is definitely an interesting, and stressful, point in time. When you have been going to school for your whole life up until now, starting from primary school up until finishing post-secondary, I feel like my default purpose has been exactly that. My purpose was more or less ‘being a student’.  In my mind, I equate my purpose to how I spend time.

Of course I have interests and activities and friends that take me beyond education, but now I have this new found freedom. Who knew the freedom to choose your purpose could be so intimidating. It should be said that I am very happy to have the privilege of choosing what it is that I do with my time. A few days after my convocation, it was like I woke up and asked myself “Wait, you mean I can choose to do anything I want now?!”. The overwhelming number of possibilities to redefine myself is not something I am used to.

As most recent grads know, if someone has the opportunity to ask you, “So, what are you going to do with your degree now?”, or “Do you have a job yet?”, they will not hesitate. Often they want to see how you measure up to society’s standards on what I’ll call, ‘the path to normal’. Having faced these types of questions myself, I want to make a conscious effort to engage in similar conversations with other people differently. I’d rather someone ask, “Shane, how do you spend your time?”. I could choose to answer that with something about work or by talking about something much cooler that I am excited about spending time on.

After sifting through blog posts, YouTube videos, and the sort of information snippets you find on the internet, one person’s message really stuck with me. Randy Pausch, who was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and unfortunately passed away in 2008, has a great lecture available on YouTube about time management. I will include the video at the end of this post if, like me, you find yourself in need of some internet wisdom. Randy does a great job emphasizing the idea of choosing how you want to spend your time. Choose opportunities and projects and relationships that allow you to spend your time the way you want to. Constantly ask yourself, “Is this worth my time?”. It can be all too easy to factor money into the decisions you make, and sometimes you have to, but if you can, define your purpose based on your time budget.

Through the course of writing this post I have not come up with a new statement that defines my purpose, but I will go forward with the modus operandi of spending my time meaningfully. I also think that my purpose will evolve more than once as I experience new things in life and certain things become important to me over time. If you think it is worth your time, then see what Randy Pausch has to say in this video:

Stay adventurous.

Shane

How Do You Define Yourself?

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