When I Truly Realized I’m More Than Just My Career

Last week I did something for the first time in nearly a decade – I put on my goalie equipment and played ice hockey, in Odessa, Texas of all places. Don’t believe me? You’d be right to be skeptical, so while I am in possession of an extremely unflattering picture of me contemplating my existence after stepping off the ice, I’ll spare you all that imagery.

Before last Wednesday night that equipment had not seen fresh ice since 2013. When I left New York after law school for Houston and packed as many of my possessions as possible into my 2003 Dodge Neon (which didn’t provide me much room), I brought all of that equipment with me because I figured I would be playing in Houston before long. Finding a job in Houston didn’t work out and I ended up in Midland several months later, in early 2014. Shock of all shocks, one of my new coworkers Vic also played hockey and encouraged me to start playing after I moved out there. What a stroke of fortune, right? A coworker in West Texas who played hockey, and even a place to play. Initially I put it off on the grounds that I was adjusting to what was at the time a big life change, and then kept putting it off even further due to my grand plan to be out of West Texas within 12-18 months. I ended up being there for half a decade longer than that despite that grand plan, having only recently left Midland for Austin, and lost out on doing something I enjoyed between the ages of 24 to 32 due to continually kicking the can down the road. 

A lot of this stemmed from going all chips in on my career in 2013-14 and trying to cultivate who I am professionally. While this is something we should all probably pay at least some level of attention to, I knowingly pursued defining my work self and persona at the expense of my outside-of-work self and persona. Many personal pursuits took a backseat to my career for years – hockey, skydiving, travel, and other things. This is not to say I regret my decision to increase my focus on my career, more that the balance between career and personal pursuits was way off kilter for far too long. 

In reflecting on this for a few days, it’s unfortunate that I kept putting off getting back into playing hockey again for as long as I did, and that’s time I can’t ever get back. But education usually isn’t free, it usually has some price associated with it. The price here for me is the eight years that passed without playing that I cannot recover, but the education is to just push through towards making something happen if you do want to do it. Caveating your passions to “I’ll do it eventually when X happens” or “now’s not a good time but maybe in a few months” will probably lead to months and even years that go by before you realize it, when you really needed to resolve to make it happen despite the timing being potentially suboptimal in some fashion. 

Being located in a more populated area admittedly gives me more opportunity to explore the passions I mentioned earlier. There are several hockey rinks and skydiving dropzones within a short drive away; there is a major airport in the vicinity with enough flights such that I can get to more places paying less money. Austin and the surrounding areas are replete with numerous things to do, see, and learn about. Now I have the best opportunity I’ve had in some time to keep figuring out who I really am and what I want to pursue outside of 8-5 Monday through Friday. 

Also available to read at my LinkedIn page.

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