When I was eighteen years old, I went away to college a thousand miles from home. I was suddenly in a place where nobody knew me and I could do whatever I wanted. I was surrounded by whomever I chose. I made my own decisions. An idea that I had entertained for a while was that of dying my bangs blue.
I am a blond and have been all my life. When I was a small child, my hair was an unusually bright tint of blond. I remember drawing a picture of myself in art class in kindergarten, and when one of my peers noticed that I had chosen to use the yellow crayon for my hair, she said, “Patrick, your hair is not yellow. Your hair is white.”
I was used to my hair being one bright color for my whole life. It was a big change to dye it an unusual color, if only the bangs. After a lot of thought and gathering of courage, I went through with it. I dyed my white hair blue.
This story relates to a new adventure in my life. You see, I have a college degree in Computer Technology, and since I achieved it, I have spent eight years applying it in the corporate world. I have endured a daily grind of getting up early, going to an office, sitting at a desk underneath fluorescent lights and fixing computer problems for other people. I have been paid quite well for these services without suffering much stress. I had a white collar job.
Not much time would pass before these professional dealings would become routine and mundane. Every now and then, I would question whether or not I was doing the right thing with my life. Sure, I was financially stable and minimally challenged by doing it, but I would often feel like my happiness was below average. I would get ideas of how to change that situation on occasion, but I resisted because, no matter how low my happiness was, my comfort level was high.
After eight years, these feelings have surfaced again, but now I have the confidence to do something about it. I am going to introduce a change that will make me happier. This change will be uncomfortable and require me to adjust the way I handle my finances. I am abandoning my involvement in the computer industry as an occupation, and I am going to get a job as a plumber’s helper. I am going from the corporate world to the trades. I am going to make my living by exerting large amounts of physical labor in various difficult conditions for a pay rate that is much lower than what I am used to. I will be working a blue collar job.
When I dyed my hair, that was a situation in which I felt so confident in my abilities and intellectual acumen that I chose to make a drastic change to my appearance. I boldly dyed my white hair blue. Now, I am feeling confident once again in my abilities and intellectual acumen to make a drastic change to my life. I will go from an environment filled with pampered, dressed-up drones who are underworked and overpaid to an environment of arduous labor, high stress and long hours. I will be dying my white collar blue.
When I dyed my hair, my blue bangs were super-cool and visible for a couple of days. On the third day, the blue dye washed out. I used color-safe shampoo and conditioner and I used the washing methods that the stylist recommended so as the keep the dye in, but the dye washed out. I would try dying one more time many months later, but the results were the same. I decided that I am just not meant to dye my hair.
Today, I certainly do face a fear of the unknown when it comes to my upcoming job change. What if I am not cut out for it? What if I do not like it? What if the proverbial blue dye in my collar washes out quickly? These thoughts encourage me to hesitate. They make me realize that I could just as easily suck it up and stick with my office job, but if I did this, would I be happy? No, I would continue to be bored, jaded and complacent. I have got to take this risk if I want to make a positive change in my life and myself.
But what if this line of work is not for me? What if it is just not who I am? This latter question lingered in my mind for a while. Then, I remembered something I read in the book Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. In it, the author says, in reference to starting new creative projects:
“Don’t wait till you know who you are to get started.”
Am I a person who should dye his hair? No. I know that now. I did not know that when I was eighteen, but I tried it anyway. I did not know who I was at the time, but I got started.
Who am I now? Am I someone who is meant for the blue collar world? I do not know. But I am not going to wait around idly, trying to figure out who I am and then get started. I am going to get started and see if that is who I am in the process. And what if that is not who I am? Then, I move onto something else.
This will be an adventure.
Let me hear from you.
Have you ever changed careers? Have you ever thought about it? What was like for you? Leave a reply below and let me know.