So i am a pretty impulsive person.  Life throws me a lot of curve balls and i am always trying to catch them and figure out where to throw them.  I am a thinker.  I like figuring things out.  Up until this point in my life, my ability to think has served me very well!  Got me a 3.89 GPA in HS with pretty much no effort.  I started college at UWEC which is a smallish public college.  About 10, 000 students.  They specialize in Nursing and Education.    In fact, their education program is actually pretty tough to get in to.  I started as a Math and Physic Education major.  Oh, there are also more bars per person in the city of Eau Claire than in any other city in the US (i have never verified this fact, it could be an Eau Claire rumor).  Anyway, again, while at college, my thinking served me well.  I got pretty much all A’s without much effort.  Most of my time was spent at the bars on Water Street.  God that was a fun time.  My brain served me so well that at times during that point in my life i was smoking weed before going to my advanced physics classes and still getting A’s… life was easy… although there were times when it would all catch up on me and i would completely freak out about a test or something… i HAD to get A’s… i don’t know why… in hindsight, maybe if i wasn’t getting shitfaced 3 times a week i could have avoided those stressful times!  Live and learn!

Then, one day at UWEC my brain told me to do something that would change my life.  I was sitting in my dorm room with some friends, drinking beer, getting ready to go to a party.  We were flipping channels and we landed on the NASA channel.  I saw the stunning view of Earth from outer space and i proclaimed to all my friends “That’s it, i want to be an astronaut!”.  Ugg, everyone laughed, i laughed, and then the next day week i filled out an application for the University of Minnesota.  I decided that getting a degree in aerospace engineering was the 1st step to this new found passion/fascination with outer space!

My life at U of M was pretty much the same as my life at UWEC.  The main difference was my schooling.  Now i was taking exclusively engineering classes at a major university as opposed to generals education requirements and science classes at a mostly liberal arts school.   In all fairness, i was taking the minimum number of credits each semester too because i had completed all my GE at UWEC… it was more less a year ahead of all the other people in my program.  Anyway, the point is, i still didn’t have to work too hard.  My ability to think was again serving me well!  In fact, i think i may have started partying more!  I started working part time at Home Depot for extra cash and hung out with  people a few years younger than me who could drink like fish!  Still, great people, just livin’ life and having fun, just like i was!  I started to allow a B to slip in here and there but i was still pretty set on getting As (even tho i was still partying all the time).  Most of my  academic focus during this time though was spent building my resume, school felt lame and pointless.   I wanted work experience! It worked!   While i was at the U of M  i managed to land a part time job at Honeywell in the Guidance and Navigation division, 3 summer internships with NASA, and a flight on the Vomit Comet.  I felt this astronaut dream coming into reach!  Unfortunately, my GPA has slipped from my UWEC time, i think i graduated with like a 3.2 from Minnesota… that didn’t make it super easy to get full funding into grad school.  Mainly because i had to go to a Grad school that would push me towards my dream of becoming an astronaut.  I slacked off too much to go the MIT, Georgia Tech, Stanford route (and i didn’t want to work that hard).  So i narrowed my choices to University of Colorado – Boulder and University of Maryland – COllege Park.  Both have top 10 aerospace grad programs.  U of Maryland even had a neutral buoyancy lab!  The only other one  in the country is a NASA Johnson Space Center.  My plan was to get funding to do research in that lab.

Long story short, i end up at University of Maryland after taking a year off and working full time at Honeywell.  I couldn’t get funding in the neutral buoyancy lab (which felt kind of “devastating” at first) so i just followed a lead i got on an adviser looking for students.   I just wanted to get funding somewhere and start grad school.  I could figure out how to get in the lab later.  I ended up working with a great professor on a project that was funded by Boeing.

Grad school wasn’t much different than  undergrad.  In fact, it was even easier!  Grad students only take like 2 or 3 classes a semester and then i would work about 20 hours a week on my thesis.  I def partied a lot during this time in my life too although it was mostly just on the weekends (during undergrad every day was a weekend).  The funny thing is, all of my best friends during this time were other engineering grad students!    These were the people i was partying with!  Funny!

Anyway, i guess after the 1st year i started to see that i didn’t want to do the work to become and astronaut anymore.  My best friend at Maryland had a similar dream, he was working in the neutral buoyancy lab and was getting his PhD is space suit design.  He worked hard, i realized that people at this caliber would be my “competition” in the astronaut application pool.  He worked much harder than i ever wanted too… all of a sudden my dream seem completely silly!  I was happy though!  I just kinda laughed a looked back at where that silly little dream at gotten me!

At that time i realized that the people at Boeing really liked the work i was doing so i decided to focus on trying to get a job with them.  I barely tried.  The group i was working for was looking for a “young bright engineer” so they basically created a position for me.  I had a phone interview.    I got the job.  Lucky me i randomly ended up with the adviser i did, def didn’t seem ideal at the time.  Her funding was coming from a small 8 person R&D lab with Boeing Phantom Works.  Turns out, i had just landed every engineering “dream job”.   All pretty much without any effort!

So yeah, my brain, my thinking has REALLY served me well, until now!  Now my thinking seems to causing me a lot of stress.  The meditation and self awareness has pretty much done away with all the mundane daily thoughts that used to cover the top layer of my mind.  As i get deeper and deeper into my mind i am not finding that my thoughts are just down right nutty!  It’s time to change this.  As of today, i feel like my brain, my thinking, is no longer serving me so i am going to attempt to do away with it all together! (thinking that is… obv not ALL thinking, but just random thoughts, stories, and connection my brain tries to make).  I know that the key to this (for me) is conscious breathing.  When i am focused on my breath I can’t really think about other things.  It bring me a sense of peace.  That’s what i long for more than anything else in life, inner peace.  Wish me luck!

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