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Journal daniil's Journal: The story of my life* 4

The bravest thing i've ever done is running away.

You might not agree with me on this one. You might say that running away is a cowardly thing to do. But the truth is, it's rather brave of you to run away, as at least you're doing something about that problem you have. If in panic, you don't run away -- you freeze. You don't act. Running, however, is already acting.

Here's how i ran away.

The story begins in 2001, the year i graduated from high school. Having successfully done my final exams. A bright future was lying ahead of me, and all those other cliches. I enrolled in my university of choice (except it wasn't really a choice), having chosen Computer Science as my major.

Except that it wasn't really a choice. It was what naturally followed my a) long-time interest in computers, b) having taken extra math and physics classes in high school. It wasn't a choice. It was logic (flawed logic. Q: If T was a math geek in high school, then is he more likely to study in the Faculty of Mathematics & CS, or the Faculty of Philosophy? A: Philosophy, as the F of P is larger than the F of M & CS).

Of course pretty soon, things started going downhill fast. There were some things that i had absolutely no problems with (i knew enough about programming to skip those boring beginners' java classes and only send in my homework and show up for tests; ditto for the classes where they taught you the basics of Unix shell use and MathCAD), whereas others...were much more trouble than i would have expected.

See, i had had no problems with high school maths. Not even the more advanced stuff we had to learn. I once helped a "humanitarian" friend do her homework -- it turned out that the stuff normal kids were taught was ridiculously easy. I got 100% in my Maths finals (a nationwide standardised test). But now, it suddenly turned out that i sucked. And i sucked bad. I barely passed the Algebra exams; Calculus I and II -- passed both only on the second attempt; the best grade i got (programming excluded) was a C in Discrete Maths.

I still don't know what the problem was. I haven't really thought about it much, either. I didn't have any problems understanding all the stuff we were told. Perhaps i just lost interest in it too soon. Don't know.

The answer i came up with at that time was that this stuff wasn't for me, that i was unfit for this kind of career. I took a few "professional" (ie not online) personality tests, which further reinforced this suspicion (they suggested becoming a teacher or something like that). It being Christmas time, i decided to try and hold on for another semester, to see if things get any better. They didn't.

I felt like running. Running fast and running far away. I started contemplating other choices. I considered becoming a volunteer and going to Africa. For a while, i entertained the thought of studying Theology (i'm not religious, but i'm interested in religious phenomena), but abandoned this thought as the programme was too Lutherian and i was afraid that the environment might get to me. In the end, after having read the curricula of most of the subjects taught in my university, i narrowed it down to two choices: Philosophy (the Anglo-American analytical kind) and Semiotics. And ended up choosing the second one.

But Why?

It might sound a bit odd to you, but i made this choice because while i wanted to get away from that life, i didn't want to go too far.

Over the past years, i had developed an interest in literature and culture in general. Now i decided to pursue this interest in a more systematic fashion. Semiotics seemed to be the way to go, as it offered a tool- and mindset for an analysis formal enough to be considered scientific. For me (and not only for me), it seemed to be quite closely related to Information Science and CS (in fact, some people have equated Semiotics with Logic, but that's really not important right now). In this way, i was able to calm myself down, to tell myself that even though i was going to drastically change my life, i wasn't really changing a thing.

But if this wasn't the real reason behind this choice, then what was? I don't know. The only thing i can currently say (bear in mind that i'm a bit sleepy...) is that i ran away because i wanted to run away. I wanted to get away from all that computer-related stuff that, at that time, only seemed to lead into a dead end (and a boring life).

Did it make my life any easier? I still think it'd have been easier to stay where i was. In fact, it's what several people recommened me to do: to let things go. NOT to make any choice. But that, my friends, would have been the most cowardly thing i'd have ever done...


* I once made a mockery of a, err, writer who had summed up all her wisdom in a two-page "letter to her daughter". And now, here i go writing the story of my life in one page max. Pathetic, eh?

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The story of my life*

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  • I wanted to get away from all that computer-related stuff that, at that time, only seemed to lead into a dead end (and a boring life).

    Everybody told me I was nuts when I "defected" from CS to Physics after two years - that was when the great IT boom was already gathering momentum. I did it because I realized that it would not improve me or make me happier if I turned my lifelong hobby into a job and a career. Choosing Physics meant more work but it was something new and - in the long term - more satisfyin

  • You might say that running away is a cowardly thing to do.

    Well, it might be. It depends largely on the circumstances.

    But facing the fact that one has done a mistake and facing the consequences of that mistake and trying to do the right thing instead isn't really cowardice, now, is it?!

    They also say 'breaking up is hard to do' and cowards don't normally go for the hard option.

The reason why worry kills more people than work is that more people worry than work.