Reinvention, Three Years Later

September calendar

I pretty much live on LinkedIn; it’s where I talk to my students and colleagues. But I somehow missed this today, until a few moments ago…

John Scott reinvention

I write about reinvention practically every day of my life, and I forgot my anniversary.

It came flooding back to me. It’s tomorrow.

The call came that day from Jan Yanehiro, the director of my department, asking me if I was “..ready to join the team?” as a part-time media instructor.

I remember gulping, quickly regaining my composure, then saying, “I am.”

I wrote this after the second week of my teaching job.

My life couldn’t be more different this afternoon, September 5, 2013. Different life, different wife, two kids and a dog, new city, mega commute, 3 job titles and 50 students in two on-campus and one online section of COM 611.

I lost a career, a home, healthcare, unemployment benefits, and a really nice wife all in a span of a few months. I made it out of the hell of unemployment, self-doubt and a devastating romantic game that I was destined to lose into something new and different…into a new career, a fresh start, an authentic life with people who are a hell of a lot more important than me.

On the day I got the life-changing phone call from the president of the university – the full-time faculty position – I wrote this, still my #1 most read/shared post ever. It turned out to be the last chapter of my book.

Friend, this hasn’t been perfect. I haven’t been perfect – far from it. In that previous column I wrote that life is messy but you have to clean up your messes. It still a mess. My life is extraordinary and completely BORING all at the same time. We have good days and bad days. I screw up, I make bad decisions, I miss a credit card payment even though I have a reminder to do it. The sun rises and sets and we go through a day in a blur, passing strangers, co-workers, lovers and friends. We work and play and love and loathe and we try to do the best we can. We survive and thrive, we stumble and we get back up. The kids want what kids want and it’s a constant, unending series of teeny tiny negotiations about milkshakes at Starbucks and those idiot Duck Dynasty people on TV and what time is really bedtime. We goof up at work and in an economy so very fragile we wonder if the goof will come back to hurt us later. We work for idiots and with geniuses and slackers and gossipers and overachievers. We forget to use a turn signal and leave a shopping cart on a curb and not take five seconds to do the right thing. We help a blind person board a train or say please and thank you. We do wonderful, inspiring, beautiful acts of random kindness combined with bursts of selfishness, self-centered ego and blind ambition, the hell with everyone else.

Rich or poor, black, white, brown and yellow, gay, straight or both… we are in a constant battle with ourselves and our little tiny world to make it to tomorrow, to get one step closer to something even though very often we do not know what that something even is.

If you count the days you believe you’ll be alive on this earth you’ll learn you have 4 or 5 digits representing the number you have left.

Take the leap, spoil yourself. Travel a bit, even if it’s a few miles down an unfamiliar road. Soak it in and suck it up. Grab the ring, climb the ladder, paint a seascape, sing a song, play Rush air guitar. And dammit, get a new job that fills you with a tiny shred of joy and fulfillment. Stop wishing it would be so. Make some mistakes, fail a few dozen times and then score the big banana, the Holy Grail, the lottery of life. C’mon, try it. It ain’t going to kill you. TIME is what’s going to kill you. No regrets, friend. Go for it.

Tomorrow I have student appointments. They’re going to ask me, “What should I do?”

I’ll smile and say something like “it’s okay to not know what that answer is. But you’re here. That means we’re now one step closer to finding that answer…”

Picture of John Scott

John Scott is a media studies instructor and the career services manager at the School of Multimedia Communications, Academy of Art University San Francisco. John’s book “Destination: Reinvention” is on sale in the Amazon bookstore. The hardcover edition is at Lulu. Audiobook available on Audible and iTunes. Follow John on Twitter @johnscottsf.

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