Never Stop Believing

“I swam down shit’s creek and came up clean, with a new lease on life like Andy Dufresne” Credit: Columbia Pictures – The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Jay Electronica, my favorite lyricist, in reference to my favorite film – The Shawshank Redemption – produced my favorite quote, in one of my favorite songs:

“I swam down shit’s creek and came up clean,

With a new lease on life like Andy Dufresne”

Just over a year ago, or fifteen months to be precise, I was in a state of turmoil – call it an existential crisis of sorts. I was a web marketer on the verge of creating a vast empire of profitable websites – or so I thought – when after a string of mortifying failures, I realised that perhaps I wasn’t quite cut out for it.

It’s difficult to put into words how hard that realisation was for me to process, and how painfully my ego was crushed; I was, after all, quite defensive about my choices and wouldn’t hear any criticism. When asked why I’d chosen not to attend University, I’d retort angrily that higher education was a scam and that there were other ways to get rich; and that I was far along this alternative path. Remembering this still makes me cringe – experience really is a wonderful teacher. Indeed, my own words fail me and I may borrow those poignant words from the philosopher;

“The sorrow that tortured me, the shame that overwhelmed me, the desperation that wracked my mind, all these I could then feel, but even now I can find no words to express them. Comparing these new sufferings of my soul with those I had formerly endured […], it seemed that I was in very truth the most miserable among men.”
Peter Abelard, Chapter X: Historia Calamitatum (The Story of My Misfortunes).

This chapter of my life was characterised by misery, and I felt powerless to turn the page. To my mind, I just needed more time: more time undo the failures, to rectify my errors, to redeem myself and vindicate my choices. However, with my 25th birthday rapidly approaching, I soon realised that time hadn’t stood still. Continuing down that road became increasingly unacceptable. Something had to change, and I had to change it.

The events that followed, I’ll save for another time. What I can say, and not without some irony, is that I leave for university in a few days. That part of my journey, which I must admit was the product of a lot of effort and belief on my part bore some lessons. Rather than pat myself on the back for a job well-done; I only want to make one thing pertinent, especially if you feel as though you’re in a rut: your life can change very quickly, but it’s on you to start doing things differently. I know I sound like a self-help author but stay with me, please.

I have throughout my life witnessed first hand what is possible through self-belief. I don’t think the belief itself has magical powers; simply it shifts your focus, which affects your attitude and your actions. Attitude permeates your whole being, and shows itself in everything you do.

I’m not here to give you advice on life’s big decisions. Indeed, most of what I’ve said so far has been frustratingly nonspecific: I don’t know your story, and I’m no sage. I’m only sharing a perspective, and you may take from it what you will.

Do stay tuned for sporadic updates documenting my time at Cambridge. I’ll make sure I actually take photographs and stuff because this post is roughly a thousand words, and well, a picture is less work, and worth about as much!