Brian Kung: Under Construction

I’ve never felt more like I’m under construction than I do now. Not in school, not when I was learning Ruby on Rails, not when I was teaching myself tricking in my backyard.

In no particular order:

  • Getting attacked in Toronto (whole nother story there) taught me how bad my situational awareness is and how ill-prepared I am, psychologically, for an attack.
  • Leaving my first job showed me that I wouldn’t be happy in a corporate environment.
  • Failing as a consultant taught me that I needed to do my time and be professional.
  • Being jobless taught me that freedom is awesome because I can do  whatever I want and terrible because I mostly want to bum around and eat things.
  • Failing at programming job interviews made me realize that I have a long way to go as a programmer.
  • Failing to execute on my own projects made me realize that I am not as driven as I thought I was.
  • Visiting places for a week or so at a time made me realize the benefits that come from putting down roots.
  • Struggling with creative works made me realize that I am not creative in the purest sense that I do not create things.
  • My history with anything that truly challenged me showed me that I don’t commit and I don’t tackle hard problems. Music, programming, even tricking.
  • My last encounter with love crushed whatever hope I had in “being true to myself” and “waiting for the right girl,” and my experiences with online dating have left me with little hope for any alternatives.
  • It’s been amply demonstrated to me that money is a huge differentiating factor in quality of life. Unfortunately, I seem to have little to no interest in acquiring it.

I feel like I am struggling to redefine myself in the face of monumental failures, and only luck has managed to get me to where I am, today. I doubt the very instincts that got me to this point, and so I feel hobbled in being able to use those instincts to evaluate my options for moving forward. So I don’t make any moves.

The only saving graces I have are my family and commitment to learning “fundamentals.” For me, the latter has taken shape in two ways: a rekindled interest in old hobbies (Chinese, guitar, mathematics, computer science, and tricking) and a newfound fascination with martial arts. Specifically Krav Maga and everything they offer at Krav Maga Illinois. What differentiates my interest now from my interest in the past are commitment and humility.

I hope, anyway.

Krav Maga is interesting, in particular. It took a very specific set of circumstances for me to actually take it up. Had any of those factors been missing, I don’t think I would have actually signed up. Thankfully, a friend was already going, there was a Groupon, it’s highly practical with a focus on situational awareness (see bullet point on Toronto), the people there are great, and it was also just minutes away from my house.  Whew, that’s a lot of stuff.

For a long time after my last stint at Eight Bit Studios, I was listless. I gradually rediscovered the fact that I had no interest in finding a career in programming. It’s funny how long that took. After all, I’d known shortly after graduating from Code Academy that I wasn’t interested in this “acquiring money” bullshit, much less working on other people’s applications. However, a year of professional software development will do that to you, I suppose. I think I am more interested in the mechanics of an industry job than I was before, simply due to exposure, but a little bit more than zero is still not very much.

I’m half tempted to add a “just kidding, please hire me!” clause, but I am sick of kowtowing to employability. I am more than an employee. In fact, I am primarily not an employee. My one concession to employability is that I haven’t lost the skills I’ve already gained.

I feel like I’ve regained a little vitality thanks to Krav Maga. I’ve made new friends and I am learning skills. Everything boils down to survival and dealing with an attacker, so the answers are obvious – there’s no need to doubt my instincts here. And if I get it wrong, feedback from the instructors is immediate. The path of progression is obvious. Exercise is also no doubt a mood-lifter by itself. Besides, punching, kicking, and kneeing things are immensely satisfying activities in and of themselves.

I was lost. I distrusted my decision making processes. I still do, in fact. But now there’s a tiny flame in my life, one I can navigate by in the darkness, one step at a time. And for that, I am extremely grateful to everyone at Krav Maga Illinois, especially my friend who has been very supportive of my new interest. It may be too soon to tell, but I hope Krav will be an instrumental piece of whatever future I manage to cobble together.