I had dinner with one of my high school math teachers tonight. Those of you who have known me from my high school days to now will be able to tell that my behavior has changed a lot - and not in a particularly good direction. I've had a niggling feeling of this for a while but I've pushed myself towards the CS world too hard. The majority of my valuable output in life is either code or organizing efforts for VandyHacks .
I had a lot more hope back at IMSA. Vanderbilt has made me hardcore cynical (and it's not like I was an optimistic back at IMSA) which has corrupted my world view. Every time that someone says something good to me, I find some way to twist it into being something bad. The world is mostly a bad place but it's certainly not deserving of the type of hard-core cynicism I've been giving it. That cynicsm has left me 2 years into a CS degree, on track to work for some big programming company, making big $$$. I don't want that. I have never wanted that. And yet, here I am.
Anyways, back to my high school math teacher. This particular teacher is probably the 2nd or 3rd most valuable teacher I've ever had. He taught me the value of hard work and taught me how to struggle through problems - despite the fact that I spent a few weeks with a 30% in his class. He was always supportive of the sort of stuff that I did with StudCo - even thought a lot of it came at the expense of his class. We had dinner tonight and had a massive bitch session about a lot of things (mostly education focused). But a lot of it was about how it could be improved if the right people were put in the position to do something. It reminded me of the late night talks that we had at IMSA. It reminded me of the big stuff that I wanted to do there and how my ambitions had steadily decreased since.
I got a lot of soul searching to do. I don't think this will be a fast process. Transitioning into doing something other than just CS (whether that be teaching or data analysis or public policy or something) will be hard. But I think I gotta do the hard work. I owe the person that I used to be when I met this friend that.
Epilogue: The writing in here sucked. I know that. That said, it was much more stream-of-consciousness than anything else that I publish. Would be interested in hearing thoughts.