I wish someone had sat me down and explained this to me as an 18 year old. I am not going to marry a profession for life. I am allowed to change my mind, get bored and quit. It’s ok to not do anything for a while. Ok to take risks. Ok to be proven wrong, to miss a turn.
A future is by definition uncertain. You can’t, won’t lock it down. Don’t worry about it. Go out and do what you want to do, not what you have to do, or should do. At worst, you will have to start all over again. So? Start over again. Life doesn’t always turn out as we planned. I picked computer science because I thought it would help me prepare for actuarial exams.
Didn’t plan on falling in love with operating systems, optimization methods and compilers in the middle. Didn’t think I would get bored within a year of working as an actuarial student. The things I have had to do to keep myself entertained. Here is what I have learnt. There will always be bills. They will always have to be paid. Do the minimum possible work to pay bills.
Do the most work on stuff you enjoy doing. I wish I had a picture with all of you. How do you find what you enjoy doing? Experiment. Explore. Take risks. Place bets. Ignore the voice in your head. Listen to your heart. Make mistakes. Get into trouble. Try new things. Get hurt. Break your heart. Get laughed out of town. You would be surprised how well some of these work.
I started off as an actuary with a degree in CS. Then become a CS guy who was also an actuary. Sounds about the same. It wasn’t. It isn’t. In the process I pissed off a lot of people who thought I wasn’t playing by the rules. Make up your mind, they said. Pick one side, they said. Color between the lines, they said. In one way the smartest thing I did, which wasn’t by design or intent was to pick CS as my first degree.
It opened up timelines I hadn’t thought about. And I could ignore the rules. Pick paths, options, doors, that open other doors and other paths. That open timelines and futures you can’t think about. Not paths that lead to or into dead ends. You think you don’t have a choice? You always have a choice. You are just not looking hard enough.
I rarely introduce myself as an actuary. I am a teacher, I teach. I build risk models, work in risk. I mentor startups and founder. I shoot documentary shorts. I write.
I am retired. I was a founder. I am a road runner, I run. I don’t play by the rules. Don’t play by the rules. In the end you are the one who has to live with the choices you made. Also regrets. Choose carefully. But remember. At some point in our lives we all look back and wonder, what if we had chosen differently. So will you. Don’t waste bandwidth thinking about it.
I wrote this lines for those of you who walked on this path before you. They were relevant in 2019. They are still relevant in 2021. Choose well my children, choose well. And never, ever be afraid of being wrong. Making mistakes is how we learn. As long as we learn, the more mistakes we make, the sharper, smarter and wiser we become.
Case in point. Picked a DSLR for the first time as a 44 year old. Shot images above and most of what you see on my feed across 7 years. Tried a documentary short at 45. Failed miserably. Tried again. Failed again. Started running after 27 years. Life gives you 2nd chances.