It’s December 17th today. If you weren’t keeping count, that makes me 30. I’ve completed the 20s period of my life, which means it’s time for me to look back on what I’ve done over the past 10 years and determine if this decade was used to any kind of worthwhile effect. To do this, I’m going to try to distill a 10 year span of life into a single paragraph or two or three. If I were then to compare that 10 years to a random person (for example, FDR), I’d have a reasonable idea where I stood in the world of having gotten things done.
When I was 20 I left the boundary of the United States for the first time on a night trip to Mexico (it was scary). When I was 21, I became really good friends with a Bosnian, traveled to Germany for two months, and drank alcohol for the first time (also went to Mexico again). When I was 22, I graduated college, moved to a new state for the first time, and started psychology graduate school. When I was 23, I went to NYC and watched the ball drop on New Years Eve, finished the grueling work of coding for my thesis, took a trip to Canada for the first and only time, started writing a novel, and sold vacuums for a while (also, I watched Friends all the way through). When I was 24, I successfully defended my thesis, earned a Masters degree of Science, dealt with the self-doubt of watching an advisor leave for greener pastures, visited Los Angeles, and moved back to Wichita for the first time in 6 or 7 years.
When I was 25, I started law school at KU, moved to Kansas City, and finished my novel (never published it, though). When I was 26, I was a clerk for the Shawnee County district court, was rejected by more companies than I’ve ever been rejected by in my entire life, and watched two of my best friends from Montana get married in Ohio. When I was 27 I got my first (and last) paid job in the field of law, working as a clerk for Parker and Hay law firm, and I got lasik eye surgery. When I was 28, I graduated from law school and realized, to my great surprise, that I hated the conflict, the stress, the pressure, and the generally aggressive nature of the legal profession; I was nominated and accepted into the gloried Team XBMC Media Center group; and I also was unemployed for the longest period of my life and suddenly got a career in social media and internet development.
When I was 29, I learned (under the mentor-ship of yet another great friend from Montana) how to code a website, and I learned through example, trial and error, and dumb luck how to design those same websites. I started a company called The Felix Fix that earns a de minimus income at best. I’ve come up with or helped to come up with the ideas for various companies and games that have not YET come into fruition. And, of course, I started the blog “Hey Facebook, why not give Nathan Betzen a Job?” I also bought my first car using my own money.
And now, today, I turn 30. As I look back, I can honestly say, I would never have guessed this path would be mine back at the tender age of 20. Has it been an amazing 10 years? No. Have I met all my goals or expectations? Once again, no.
But it hasn’t been terrible either. I think, if I were to write a book on these years, that book would be entitled Holding Pattern. I haven’t gotten married. I haven’t had kids. I haven’t really done much to distinguish myself in the realms of accomplishment, save writing a little-seen thesis (that I’m still convinced is important), writing an unpublished book (that I’ve never really gotten around to fixing), and spending a year accomplishing only 50% of what I think needs to be accomplished at my job (leaving the MOST IMPORTANT thing totally unaccomplished… namely, convincing salesmen that THEY are the ones who need to establish personal relationships with our facebook fans). But I also haven’t taken any kind of major steps backwards. I’m not an alcoholic. I haven’t lost an arm for any major reason. Also, even though I’m still medically obese, I can run 5ks again, so that’s cool.
Still, if these past 10 years have been the book Holding Action, I’ll be very disappointed if these next 10 years aren’t entitled The Steady and Climactic Rise.
I don’t really know what that entails yet. I am totally certain it means that if I am still employed in the exact same job I’m employed in now, I’ll be pretty disappointed. If it means I’m not employed with Facebook or Google or a similar mover and shaker in the world, I won’t be crushed. There are a thousand and one ways to place one’s stamp upon the world. If the major companies of Facebook and Google are too narrow minded and stupid to see how I could benefit them, then I feel sorry for them, but I’m not planning on feeling sorry for myself.
What I am planning on doing is continuing in my path towards being proactive. If I want a job and I get automatically rejected, I’m not just going to lay down and die. I’m going to create an entire (and ridiculous) blog to try to get back what should have been mine. If I have a vision for a story that needs telling, I’m not going to just talk about how neat it would be if I could get paid to tell the story. I’m going to TELL the freaking thing, come hell or high water.
I’m done – in fact, I’ve been done for a while now – with sitting on the sideline and hoping somebody puts me in the game. Through the miracle of communication, the internet, and a flatter world, I am now my own dungeon master.
And my game has begun. The die is cast. Time to see whether it rolls a 20.