My Life or Master of None?

Warning! SPOILER ALERT! There are spoilers if you plan on watching Master of None on Netflix. Proceed at your own risk. To give you some context, I originally typed this with my thumbs on my phone because I started it at 3:00am and decided it was worth editing and posting by 4:00am. So moved it from the Notes app to my personal blog. (There’s a few leadership lessons in hear, even if they aren’t explicitly stated).

The amount of parallels between the first season of Master of None (I’m hoping there will be a second) and my life is uncanny. This post is about relationships, being a young professional, and turning difficult experiences into life changing moments. Some peaks and valleys await you if you continue to read on. It’s a bit lengthy so if you want to get to the lessons, skip the fun or funny, both ha-ha funny and some irony, and scroll to the bottom. The rest of the blog is anecdotal and only gives context to the last few points.

First we need to go back to May-ish 2014 and eventually we’ll arrive at present day. So I met a cool girl at an awesome place and we hit it off. Fast forward a bit we start dating, I have one more semester in college and the future is looking right. I roll into summer a happy man believing, with an idealistic passion, that I’m about to change the world.

Fall semester rolls around and I’m having the time of my life. I’m working with great people, classes are going well, I’m throwing my hat in the ring by applying to entry-level positions in places that align with my values and connect with my passion. I am also still dating aforementioned cool girl. Boom! It’s October and I drive 800 miles between Detroit and Mount Pleasant in one weekend. Four trips. Four days. I land my “dream job” but there’s a catch, I need to start at the end of October (still 2014). It’s cool, I commuted a couple times a week and in the spring I transitioned to full time. I was a young professional with a $50,000 salary with literally the minimum amount of expenses one could have after college. Life was good. (Future still looks bright and I start thinking about long term plans – fill in the gaps if you must).

New Years rolls around and I dance the night away in Grand Rapids with my best friends and it’s shaping of to be a great year…or so I thought. Cue dramatic sound effect – this isn’t what I thought it was going to be. My job became something I didn’t want to be part of, and as an idealist with passion for working with youth, I figured it would be a small fix. COMMUNICATION (when that breaks down – literally everything breaks down).

Fast forward to March 2015 things are a little rocky on all fronts; job, relationship, future plans, and so on. Now if you follow Master of None, you’ve watched Dev (Aziz Ansari) go through a series of events and experiences that cause him to evaluate what his life is like and what it could be like. (Having kids, spending time with his parents, racism in mass media, personal friendships, and lastly longish term relationships). Master of None was originally released November 6, 2015 – a month after my birthday (random unrelated aside). If you’ve watched the series and if you’ve read this far you’re about to be reminded/about to find out how the season ends. Dev and Rachel (Noel Wells) break up and Rachel heads to Japan. Her trip motivates him to do something he’s always wanted to do. What does Dev/Aziz do??? He goes to Italy.

Jump back to April 2015 after a series of experiences and events (quitting job with no plan for what’s next/having gone through a recent break up, and so on) – I get on a plane and fly to Florence, Italy (Aziz must have stalked my Facebook or something) to try and get control over my life. (BEST DECISION EVER – LOVED FLORENCE…GO IF YOU CAN).

Trip to Florence.jpg

Almost a year later – I realize that some of the most difficult, challenging, and confusing experiences in life can cause you to do something dramatic in order to find some control over your life in the midst of it all falling apart. (It’s dramatic on purpose). Sorta in Eat, Pray, Love fashion and now Master of None, I spent a year pursuing what I thought was going to be the next phase of my life – and ultimately I ended back up at square one (or so I thought – keep reading). I have many happy and inspiring memories and experiences from 2014 into 2015, but it didn’t last forever and neither did the difficulties. (Sidebar – I have no animosity or lingering frustration toward mentioned girlfriend or past job. I’m human and it took me a while to get past both experiences, but now I can share these thoughts from a learning perspective and with an appreciation for both of them).

Recently I had a series of conversations with co-workers, friends, family, and even strangers, and what I’ve come to realize is that even when you think you have it figured out, there’s a great possibility that life will change – sometimes for better and sometimes for growth. Trust the process, embrace the experiences (and the emotions that come along with it) and don’t be afraid to dive head first or go all in with some job, some person, on in some place and feel like you have to stay forever. That year, like a few others, has shaped who I am because of the people I met, the places I went, and the lessons I learned. Change is hard, but it is possible to navigate and come out on the other side a better person.

My last relationship partner inspired me to go after my dreams both directly and indirectly. I can’t thank her enough for that. She challenged to do what I love with all my energy and also that it was okay to have a change of heart (that took a while to learn). She also inspired to really embrace all of who I am – including the part of me that has always wanted to travel. I’ve been to five countries in ten months and I’m heading to Switzerland after my first year of grad school ends. I love learning about culture and other people. My job taught me that it was okay to step back and evaluate whether or not what you’re doing/supporting truly aligned with your values. It also helped me say no. If you say yes to everything you’re probably busy and tired – too busy to stop and too tired to keep going (been there, sucks doesn’t it?…it’s a vicious cycle, but worth breaking).

If you made it to the bottom, I want to personally thank you for reading it all, but also remind of the few things I’ve learned.

1) Fall in love, go all in, and if it doesn’t work out that’s okay. Might suck for a while, but it’ll get better. If it does – invite me to the wedding or whatever you do to celebrate your love – I love dancing (can’t dance well, but I love it. 2) Don’t be afraid to turn around or take a side step or do something different if you find that you aren’t getting what you need from your professional life, academic experience, or whatever you’re doing. 3) Take that trip, learn that instrument, paint your heart out, or do they thing you promised yourself you would when you had the time and money. There will never be a perfect time. 4) Give yourself time and a little bit of grace to become who you want to be. Life may happen fast, but it doesn’t have to be lived fast. 5) Lastly, don’t be afraid to make changes in your life and accept that circumstances change and it’s out of your control. It sucks sometimes, but that’s life.

Shout out to past relationships, previous jobs, airlines, Italy, and Aziz for making a dope show about my life and probably the lives of a bunch of other people.

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