Note from David: This is ass kicking guest post was written by my friend Roman Druzyagin, an engineer, language learning enthusiast, aspiring world traveller and writer from Russia. Catch him on Twitter! @roman_druzyagin
As many young people in Russia do, I had attended a university, majoring in computer science.
The staff of the university had always been proud of their innovative approach towards education. Sadly, what I had witnessed consisted of outdated technology (first two years of study, floppy disks were the usual method of transferring data between home and computer classes), old-fashioned lecturers (grumpy aged men, filled with contempt for all things modern and unshakeable belief in the upcoming triumph of communism), and useless, paper-wasting, mind-numbing bureaucracy.
Some of my buddies had left the university during the second year and were pursuing careers in engineering. They were building real products. I was still juggling small-time coding jobs to keep myself afloat.
The head of the department at the time was a respected professor. Already in his seventies, yet no one dared to call him “old” or “elderly”. He was incredibly young at heart and in mind. A healthy, driven, energetic man who was always bursting with enthusiasm.
His masterfully delivered presentations contained a simple, yet profound idea: the world moves fast. The wheels of progress never stop turning. The path to self-discovery and self-fulfilment lies in constant learning and experimenting. You have to be determined in order to succeed.
The lectures have inspired me. I had no particular drive to become an engineer at the time. Pursuing programming as a form of creative expression seemed an absurd idea. Engineers use code to solve real problems, and the only problem I had at the time was lack of money.
For the first time in my life, I became really determined. I kept learning, hustling, reading books, reading and writing code. Lots of it. I came to know my craft in and out, with great attention to details and a desire to uphold high standards of quality.
The net result was 9 information systems and numerous smaller products that I had built. There were no substantial financial payment for most of them. Not a single one had been put to actual use.
The main reward was personal growth. In addition to actually becoming an engineer, there was a great deal of experience in professional relationships, social interactions and self-marketing. As it turned out, in real world you had to face real people, not just a flickering light of the monitor.
A week after graduation, a successful start-up gave me a position in their internship program. I had no idea what to do with my life. There was only determination to keep learning more about myself and the world around me.
The road to self-discovery holds many unexpected turns. You will never know what awaits you, unless you are prepared to keep on walking. Once set out to accomplish a task, you might find yourself taking a longer path, stumbled upon by pure chance.
This happened numerous times to me as soon as I realized that determination is the fuel that drives passion. Looking back, I see the same, never-ending route of personal enlightenment. I keep switching directions and going whenever the road takes me. It could be a little detour or a complete change of track.
By the end of university years, I was fascinated by linguistics. Noam Chomsky dominated my bookshelves. An interpreter for my very own language became a core part of thesis. The first real job I’ve had didn’t allow me to pursue this passion, so I turned to natural languages instead and set out learning Spanish.
It has opened a whole new world to me. Eventually, I became fluent in two languages, discovered a wealth of knowledge and information. My views on relationships, life, health, friendship became subject to close scrutiny, reviewed and re-imagined in a completely new fashion. All it took was determination to walk along the new path.
Two years later, I still find myself captivated by the beauty of languages. Written word is my passion. I believe it to be one of the greatest forms of creative expression. I am determined to become a writer, and it drives me to practice constantly, day after day.
I am positively sure that if you take time to look back, you will recognize at least one startling change or discovery in your life, made possible thanks to your persistence.
Determination is the key to personal growth. Eventually, it either brings you toward your goal or uncovers whole new paths for you take. You would have never imagined yourself walking upon them before. It will show you the world from a different side. It will make you a better, wiser person.
Do you have a story of personal growth? Have you ever been rewarded with results you did not anticipate? Share it!