I was a “B” student in school. I listened in class and put in enough effort to get the grades I needed, but I never put in the work outside of class to master the material and rise to the perfection of an “A” student. For a long time I felt the resentment to put in the effort was the result of the subject matter, but I recently experienced these feelings again and convinced me that there was a different reason all along.
After closing out Synotate and feeling a bit burnt out from working on technology all day long, I took some time to reflect on missteps which I covered in my article, Sharing Failure. In that article, I focused on what I should have done differently to give the project a better shot at success, but I never reflected on how the project personally impacted me. It was a great learning experience, but I resented the process, especially when it came to programming. This surprised me because when I first learned to program in high school/college, I loved every minute of the challenges it presented me.
It felt like I was back at school and it wasn’t until I started focusing on photography that I felt the hunger to learn come back. I was excited to take the time to understand the fundamental components of photography. This was something I hadn’t had since I started work on Synotate and I realized the discontent I had back in school was due to the strict structure and expectations I had set in place for myself.
Synotate put me back into learning mode because I had to learn legal, server architecture and database administration, but my perspective on learning quickly changed. It went from a fun side project into a full blown job and something that I previously had loved learning turned into something that felt like schoolwork. Much of the success in my career has been the result of teaching myself to code because I loved the challenges it presented. I did it at my own pace and had practical projects to try to build. This is the same experience I am currently having with photography.
It is really interesting to think about how your understanding of a topic or emotion can change decades after becoming aware of it. All it takes is an event like my burn out with technology and creative outlet in photography to allow me to re-evaluate my reasoning for an emotion that I was certain of for the majority of my life. Learning can be fun and is something that gives purpose to life. If you have a passion or are interested in a topic, start learning now, but make sure it isn’t forced or extremely stressful because you will quickly fall out of love with it as I did with Synotate.