Reflection: Finishing My 3 Year Long Back To School Journey

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was 22 working as an investment banker in a small no name boutique getting paid zilch in NYC living with my mom. It was March and I just got back to work after partying like a lunatic in Chicago for St. Patrick’s Day. At this point I was working a job that I hated but was in self denial, studying 14 hours a week for the CFA, an exam which I hated studying for yet was pushing to do it because I wanted to further bolster my finance career, and had been slowly but surely realizing that I was dealing with very minor male depression. I was sitting in my office’s bathroom stall thinking about how much fun I had in Chicago and how good it felt to just finally get a breather, to live, to have fun, to explore a city (albeit extremely inebriated and well… blacked out). I was feeling good, happy even. I haven’t felt this feeling in a loooong time I thought to myself while sitting on the toilet. It was a Monday morning and then reality started to come back at me. I was back in the corporate grind. Just a glorified secretary thinking I was some hot shot banker closing deals. Studying for some stupid exam I really couldn’t care less for. What was the point of it all? Why am I pushing so hard for something I just really don’t enjoy doing. Didn’t matter how hard I’d try to like it, I never would. I sat on that toilet and started to tear up.

For the first time the pain and sadness that I’ve been trying so hard to bottle up and shove down, to ignore, was coming up and breaking through the surface. I didn’t know what was wrong, I thought to myself, this isn’t right. I have a good job that will lead to amazing career prospects, I hustled hard working as an intern working 12 to 18 hour days regularly to get this stepping stone of a job. I was grinding for my CFA. I worked and took care of my health. I’m able to help my mom out financially. I have a lot of good things going for me. So why was I crying? Why was I so angry and upset? Why was I just so tired of everything and everyone. Why did I feel like I just don’t have anymore gas in the tank and that my flame has died out? I didn’t realize it then, but I know that it was my soul and spirit crying out. Yelling for release from this self implemented torture. Begging for mercy. My soul and spirit were being crushed and I was finally starting to feel the pain that I was causing myself. That was my wake up call and I became conscious of what was actually going on.

At that time, my life was very boring, mundane, and I only focused on the external world thinking it would bring me satisfaction and joy. Thinking it would bring me peace, stability, and happiness to my internal world. What I didn’t know was that I was just lying to myself, thinking that I knew who I really was and what I really wanted in life. My day to day consisted of waking up at 5 AM to hit the gym, workout, come home by 6, shower, have breakfast, get dressed, prepare lunch for work, then be out the door and on the train heading to a job I really couldn’t care less for by 8 and getting to the office by 9/9:30. I would then just do meaningless unexciting work, wasting my life away for a pittance of a salary. I’d wake up everyday with dread, and not with excitement to tackle the day and see what challenges life would bring to me. From that Monday I realized I had to make a change and I took my own destiny into my hands much like I did when I was 15 and set a course for improving my life and acting upon it.

The next 4 months I spent at work wondering what it is I enjoyed to do. I had this one moleskin journal that I got from my previous job that I used as a journal on and off writing my thoughts but not consistently. I actually noticed that when reading through my old journal entries I always wrote in them when I was upset, angry, depressed, or just in a negative mood. That actually further made me realize something wasn’t right. I was becoming more conscious of myself and my internal world. I would journal almost daily for the next 4 months and I would jot down questions. I’d ask myself the big questions like who am I and what is it that I truly want, not what others expect me to do or want me to do because of their expectations of me (Shout out to Uncle Iroh). I spent those 4 months brain storming, and at work I’d just read anything that interested me. I started following my interests. For the first time ever, I shut out the outside world, and listened in to what my soul and spirit (you could also call it my heart and my gut whatever helps you better understand what I’m talking about) were telling me.

In those 4 months I realized I had an interest in math, science, physics, engineering, and technology. I specifically liked electrical engineering and the technologies that came from mastering electromagnetic waves. Once June came around, my inner world was telling me that this was something I had to try. I tried many things in the past before, and I was taking a huge risk in going back to school because what if I wouldn’t like engineering? What if I would end up hating it just as I ended up hating law and finance? But this time was different. This time I was acting on my own volition and listened to my gut and heart, not just my mind.

I didn’t act on the decision instantly though, I was still hesitant to do it. I was a totally different person back then. Always doubting myself, always wondering if I’d make the right call, if taking the risk was worth it. I was just a shell of a man. I was a coward in many ways. I was always scared of commitment, be it in anything, in work, relationships, adventures, personal interests. I never had FAITH in myself and always had fear in my heart. I ended up going to Greece with a friend of mine for 2 weeks and in those 2 weeks was when I came to terms with myself. I made a pros and cons list of going back to school, spending 3 to 4 years getting a second degree. And I made a pros and cons list of staying in my current position in life. The former over took the latter by a landslide, it also helped that for the third time in my life, I was CERTAIN that this was the right move to do for myself. The first was when I was 15 and realized that I needed to start physically taking care of myself and to train my body, to get absolutely jacked and shredded like an anime character. The second was when I just knew, that law was not for me and ended up leaving it before it would destroy me. In July I found the College of Staten Island and their electrical engineering program and I signed up for their program starting August 27, 2019. I handed in my letter of resignation 2 weeks before my start date and I was off walking down my own path, acting according to my own free will and volition. This was the beginning of my journey of finding out who I truly am, and casting aside all doubt about me. This was the beginning of me believing in myself, knowing that I can handle whatever fate would dare to throw at me.

It wasn’t all easy though. When I first went back to school, I was hesitant again. I felt like I made a huge mistake. I was scared, thinking what did I just do?! I just left a potentially lucrative and successful career in finance. If it wasn’t for my journal entries showing proof of how miserable and destroyed I was when I was in finance, I would’ve been lost and SOL. My written down thoughts are what saved me. Writing down the feelings, the misery, the suffering, and having it serve as a tool for being aware and conscious of myself prevented me from collapsing. I now had the conviction to push through and see this journey to the end.

It’s funny because one month into my studies, I was feeling down, thinking 3 years for another bachelors is going to take forever! But I hunkered down and told myself, it’ll be over before I know it. I’m smiling looking back it, knowing just how right I was. It really did fly by and instead of getting a bachelors I ended up getting a masters in Computer Science instead.

In that first semester, I was adjusting to my new world. I was a student again, after being in the workforce for a year and now being relegated back to doing stupid assignments and tasks, it was embarrassing at first. Except there was one difference. I actually loved my course work and enjoyed studying the subjects that I did. Was it fun all the time? Absolutely not. Work isn’t always fun, that’s why it’s called work. But, it gives me satisfaction and pleasure when a job is well done and completed.

My first semester flew by and I was now entering my second. It was winter break though and the boys and I decided to take a trip to Maine to hike Mount Katahdin. Yeah… not exactly the smartest decision… but it was a lot of fun (looking back on it… it definitely WAS NOT fun when I was freezing in the middle of the night and throughout the whole hike just going through some absolutely serious pure suckage). But my soul and spirit at this point felt alive. I was feeling it. I was feeling happiness. I for the first time ever, especially after my first semester, felt that I was actually chasing a goal that I truly wanted. I was waking up in the morning feeling ready for battle with the day and to come out victorious. I didn’t have good days every single day. Oh believe me, I still had plenty of work to do on myself, but I was beginning to scratch the surface and start cleaning up everything wrong with me. After Katahdin, we all came back home and I stared my second semester. I was still dealing with male depression. I was still not 100% certain about where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do with my life. I was pursuing electrical engineering sure, but then what? Where would I work? Where would I live? Where would I go? I had a million questions, and I didn’t know if I could answer them all. I still had self confidence issues.

Looking back on this all, I now no longer worry about those things. If I have any questions about whether or not I’m lost, I just know 100% that I will always find my way and get to where ever it is I truly want to go. My spirit and soul act as my compasses and they will always guide me, just like they do for everyone. All you have to do is just listen and hone in on them.

It was now Spring 2020 and the world came to a halt. Covid 19 spread throughout the world all because China lied. In that time, I decided that I wanted to be a machine learning engineer because I was fascinated by AI and machine learning. I switched from electrical to mechanical engineering so that I would be able to do a control engineering specialization at Binghamton University for the mechanical engineering specialization just so that I could work as a machine learning engineer in the future. I took some CS prerequisite courses as well just in case I ever wanted to switch over to CS in the future.

In hindsight this was dumb, I was just making it harder for myself and taking unnecessary courses and paths to get to an end goal which had much simpler and easier means. I remember inquiring about Binghamton’s mechanical engineering department and computer science department. When I first requested information from the ME department I got information immediately. The CS department tho… nothing. Their link was broken. I thought oh well, such is fate, guess I’ll just stick to ME and hope that my plan will work out. What a total idiot I was. Instead of taking action and messaging the CS department to broaden my options and make life easier for me, I was letting fate trick me and just lead me astray. I ended up inquiring 2 more times in the CS department’s automated system only to get no answer another 2 times. On the third attempt, back in March 2020, I took matters into my own hands and I messaged them myself and finally… I got a response. It should be known that at the time, I enjoyed both traditional engineering and computer science, to me it was 50/50 because I liked them equally. But when it came to looking ahead and seeing the future, I just knew that CS was the better option for me, and so I made the call while listening to my soul and spirit, that this was the way. I was certain of it. I switched over to CS and in summer of 2020 I was set for taking 2 computer science courses that would allow me to take the prerequisites necessary to apply and gain admission to Binghamton’s masters program for computer science. I now had another year of undergrad charted out for me and 2 years of my MS program. Bring it on. Another great thing that was a huge help was I got back into martial arts. That helped a ton and was helping me go on the right path to where my soul was guiding me.

2020 wasn’t a good year though. It was a year that the world lost. And one that had devastated my family. We lost my grandmother on May 14, 2020. My whole family got Covid (except for me somehow… which btw I still think I never got Covid, despite getting vaccinated). It was a hard loss, and my mom was just crushed. A lot of people died that year, due to the incompetence of our government and the Chinese government. I grieved and moved on.

Once summer of 2020 came around, that was when I began to grow even more as a person and just became more confident in myself. That summer I finally picked up surfing, something that I had long wanted to do since I was a kid. I loved it instantly and was hooked. Funny enough, I didn’t think about doing it, my cousin called me up and said lets do it. I said yes, let’s do it. It was at this point where I was finally learning how to balance going with the flow vs thinking for a while and then making a decision. I believe this started because I was now allowing for my inner adventurer to finally come about after years of being suffocated and living under a self imposed authoritarian system. After our first ever surf lesson. I went immediately to my local surf shop and bought myself a 8’6″ long board. It barely fit in my car, but I didn’t care, I was now a surfer and was doing something that I ALWAYS wanted to do.

I picked up surfing and my friend Victor hit me up with the opportunity to go hike Mount Rainier that very same summer. I said yes to both of those and now I have some of the fondest memories of my life. Rainier was hell. I remember suffering through that mountain. Having severe cerebral edema, to the point where it felt like my head was going to explode and someone was basing my brains and eyes with mallets. We got to ~13,700 feet. Just 700 feet shy of summit, but I just couldn’t continue. Rainier defeated me. To this day I still think maybe I should try again… just once more. I know I hate Rainier, but DAMMIT! TO JUST BE DEFEATED LIKE THAT! It eats away at my soul sometimes. We were so close and because of me, we had to turn back. How I wish now that I would’ve just pushed through and suffered for another 2 hours to reach summit, just so that I would never have to go back there and think of that failure ever again. But at least we got to explore Seattle and do an urban exploration there.

After I got back from Rainier, it was back to the grind of school. I’m not going to lie. While I was having fun that summer, I still was going through my male depression funk. It was slightly better… but I couldn’t understand what was causing me to be so miserable. I just couldn’t nail down the root cause of it all. I was running on a long dry spell as well, and hadn’t gone out on a single date for over a year as well (honestly probably even longer, I just don’t remember at this point). I was feeling unattractive, and like a loser because I just couldn’t get the opposite sex to show any interest in me. I blamed women. Saying they’ve become too picky expecting a 6’2 chad who’s rich as hell (Yeah I know, I was on borderline incel logic and was full in Red Pill/MGTOW logic. Super moronic). I was rejected by just 3 girls in the past year, and that was also just beating me down. I thought to myself that no matter what I did, no girl would just want to be with me. It’s hopeless, I would tell myself. I had a defeatist attitude. What just crushed me at one point was this one girl that I was speaking to that I met at a medical office. She dragged me around for 3 weeks just making false promises and using me as an emotional tampon, patiently waiting for a date from her.

I was furious at the time. Now though… I can’t believe how childish I was and how I could’ve let one immature girl just get to me like that. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was blaming the outside world again for my own problems. I was blaming women instead of myself. I was refusing to take responsibility for my own actions. I was saying it’s all women’s unrealistic expectations and them wanting to have their cake and eat it too. How dumb and naive I was. At the time I didn’t know it… but women can see a man’s soul and spirit better than anyone else. I learned that no amount of wealth, good looks, or things from the external world could ever keep a woman around or bring her to you. Sure there are some women who want a “beautiful life” but I’ve often found through my experience dating that it’s usually a sign that she’s not all happy on the inside and she’s looking to the external world for satisfaction and happiness. A way to fulfill her inner desires. Women are exactly like men I’ve learned, they just happen to have a different set of genitals. They too have hopes, dreams, desires, fears, insecurities, and doubt. I didn’t realize it yet, but that fall semester was when I took action again and was certain for the fourth time in my life that I had to make a change, I just didn’t know what it was.

The fall semester, it was business as usual, except now the pandemic had gotten to me. I was just so bored and for the past year I was binging porn and masturbating to depraved garbage like an absolute degenerate. I decided on November 9, 2020 to give up porn for good and never go back to it. I won’t write about my NoFap journey here as I’ve written a whole blog post already (which surprisingly is my most read post of all time) here. It was during the first 90 days of NoFap that I suffered the most, but it was worth it in the end. I’m still porn free to this day.

It was now winter break and I decided to finally get into snowboarding. I was listening to my soul and spirit and with that I finally did another I wanted to always get good at, snowboarding. I was living an adventurous life and I was loving it. I went up to Vermont with some dear friends of mine, froze my butt off, and damaged it too from falling on it so hard.

My final semester at CSI went by without a hitch and I was accepted into Binghamton’s graduate program. I couldn’t believe any of it to be honest with you. To enter this stage in my life where I would be a graduate student for computer science? That was beyond me. I couldn’t fathom that at all. I decided to spend my final semester at CSI by just coasting and getting passing grades. I was already admitted to a graduate program and I already knew from working in the real world that no one cares what your GPA is. I also spent it dating women, falling in love (least I think it was love based on what others have told me) when I least expected to, having fun, going on a hell of an adventure with the boys, and preparing for grad school.

My first semester of grad school was easy enough, I spent the summer just dating around, surfing, hanging with friends, and doing last minute apartment hunting in Binghamton because I found out that apparently the fall semester was not going to be remote. I was under the impression that Binghamton would remain remote simply because the Delta variant broke throughout the US. Also it’s because I don’t need to be physically in class to study computer science… I work with computers, if you can’t do remote learning when you’re expected to be an expert working with machines… then I don’t know what to tell you, it was just ridiculous. I ended up signing a lease, finished my summer semester, and packed up all of my stuff and drove up to Binghamton to start a new adventure in this 3 year school journey of mine.

Before leaving for school though, sometime in August the girl that I had caught feelings for messaged me and we hung out one last time. Perhaps it’s stupid to put this in the post, lord knows if she reads this she’ll probably cringe. I know bold of me to assume that she or anyone even reads my blog, but I don’t care as this is a reflection post and I’m pretty much yelling out into the void. Bear in mind that this is also all from my point of view, and I don’t know if she ever even felt anything for me, I’d like to think that she did, but this is just something I’ll never know. I’ve made peace with it, and I wish her well.

Part of my growth in my 3 year journey has also been growing up and not being bitter or resenting someone after a break up or being dumped. It’s also taught me to become comfortable with never knowing the truth and to just wish the other person well and hope that they’re living a good life. It’s far more exhausting hoping for someone to live a miserable life and getting angry when you see they’re happy instead of just hoping the best for them and moving on with your own life. To this day, I still think about her, but now… it’s less. I don’t think the feelings I have for her will ever truly go away, and I had to force myself to cut her out of my life, because I just know now that she’s not good for me.

I don’t know why she chose to message me, especially when she told me that she was leaving to Miami in 2 days, which shocked me as I thought she was going to stay in NYC. But I just knew I had to take a chance with her and I wanted to see her one last time. She agreed and we made plans to meet the next day. When we met up after not speaking for months at this point, instantly the chemistry was still there between us, at least I think so. We had a long conversation, and we enjoyed each other’s company. I remember when we were speaking, she told me that she read my adventure story about the Italian Stallions. I told her how I was moving out to Binghamton and she told me it would do me good in my life to live on my own. I felt happy with her in the moment that we shared. When I dropped her off at her apartment, I offered to take her to the airport. Maybe she was using me, maybe she wasn’t. I don’t know, and I didn’t care. I met with her the next morning and drove her to the airport. When I dropped her off, we hugged and kissed one last time. That was the last time I ever saw her, and I drove back home feeling sadness because I knew that was the last time I was ever going to see her and that chapter of my life had to come to an end. I suppose what I came to learn from all of this was that catching feelings for someone and even falling in love with someone doesn’t always take months like I thought it would. If anything all it takes is incredibly powerful chemistry and bam, you’re hooked onto that person.

Upon leaving my house and making the drive to Binghamton for the second time in my life, I felt strange. I was finally going to have freedom. I was 25 and for the first time ever moving and living on my own. I was now entering the next chapter in my 3 year journey, and it held a bunch of surprises and challenges for me. I drove to Binghamton in the sweltering heat and quickly moved into my new home. Finally freedom. I set my whole room up and was ready to start classes the next week. I was living alone in a 4 bedroom apartment, and ended up having a roommate who to my pleasant surprise was a Iranian Jewish kid from Queens, that was also a computer science student. We got along well right off the bat and found out to our misfortune that we were living above a hookah lounge that would blast their music late into the night. It didn’t help that the owners were a bunch of spoiled brats that basically rented out the space below for the sake of being a hang out spot. They never had customers. What ensued was a 3 month battle with my landlord. I couldn’t sleep at all in my own unit and was resorted to just going into my apartment just for showering, cooking, using the bathroom, and changing. I ended up commandeering my buildings cinema lounge and slept there for the remaining 2 of my 3 months. No one ever used it, and they were taking money from me in the form of rent, so I may as well use it as my own personal bedroom.

The fall semester was a true growing point for me. I was getting involved with lawyers, getting ready to sue my landlord for lying to me. It also forced me to even further distrust people and to never trust property managers. Also taught me to never sign a lease unless I see the actual unit. A show room doesn’t mean anything. I ended up going through a pretty annoying time, but what made it great was that my roommate was there to just hear my morning rants and ritual kavkazi anger. In a way, my time in Binghamton toughened me up. It forced me to grow up and become even more independent from my mom than I already was. Don’t get me wrong, I was calling her day and night asking for her advice on how to fight back against my land lord, because my mom has dealt with shit heads her whole life, so her input was very valuable. But she couldn’t help me except by giving me guidance, it was up to me to bite down on my landlord and give her hell. That hell eventually paid off because by October, she told me that her boss allowed her to break my 1 year lease and I was free to go. It was perfect timing too because I really hated Binghamton. I learned another valuable thing about myself, it was that I’m a city rat and I can’t live anywhere outside of a city. The city of Binghamton was a depressing, opioid infested city with the only thing going for it was the school. It also opened up my eyes to see how the real America is, which is a bunch of terrible infrastructure, cars, and out of shape people everywhere. I didn’t understand at the time because I grew up in NYC, in my home city of Brooklyn. It’s now that I realized that NYC is not American… at all. In my honest opinion NYC is more like a European city with it’s heavy emphasis on walk-ability and public transportation. In my time adventuring across Europe, I see many similarities between NY and European cities.

Another thing that I noticed as well after going through my whole ordeal with my landlord is that I became far more assertive and aggressive, especially when my money was involved. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I was some push over, but I definitely wasn’t as defiant before. I noticed that I went from, “Oh I probably shouldn’t do this things because I might break the rules or upset someone.” to “What are they gonna do? If they have something to say, then let them say it. If not… great I’m going to keep doing my own thing.” That’s exactly what happened when I moved myself into the cinema lounge, which by the way was right next to our apartment in the building. The maintenance man would wake me up at times because he’d do his morning routines to check the place and there he’d find me in my underwear sleeping on a mattress that I also commandeered and would scare the shit out of him. I’d wake up just saying good morning and he’d freak out. It was funny because it got to the point where he knew I was sleeping there, and he wouldn’t turn on the lights (the cinema lounge was pitch black when the door was closed and lights off), and he’d come in with a flash light, so as to not disturb me. Great guy. Another time, some guys walked in on me while I was asleep at around 12 and they wanted to watch a movie but I literally just said no I’m sleeping and they up and left. That was also pretty funny not gonna lie.

My fall semester was also pretty rough as well since I was also taking the hardest classes I’ve ever taken. I was getting shafted hard by computer architecture and my web programming class. Sleep deprivation in the first month from the assholes downstairs caused me to worry that I was going to fail out of my classes. Thankfully once I moved myself into the cinema lounge… all of my sleep problems went away, and I finished my fall semester with great grades. I ended up also leaving early and doing the rest “remotely” since I didn’t need to physically be at the university for exams and the last 2 week of classes which were usually unnecessary. I became more of a risk taker and just liked rolling the dice because the rewards usually far outweigh the risks for me. That’s part and parcel of why I took on my job in Houston, TX. I’ve never been to the city, but I just rolled the dice and am moving there come July.

Once I was back home, I focused 100% of my energy on trying to set up my classes for spring remotely. I succeeded and did my spring semester fully online. I also spent my winter break and time home dating another wonderful girl, who also subsequently dumped me after 3 months of dating. I wish her well too, but it was for the best. We weren’t really compatible and there just wasn’t that chemistry. But let me tell you… getting dumped AGAIN really does a number on you, so I ended up going monk mode my spring semester. I focused all of my energy on 2 things. Graduating and finishing my final semester and getting a job, because I didn’t want to be unemployed come graduation time. I ended up succeeding in getting a job, and am in the midst of finishing the former goal taking my final summer class. Come July 1st, I’m going to be a graduate with a master of science in computer science. I can’t believe it. On top of that, I’m going to be living in Texas.

My life has definitely been very strange, but I’m grateful for it. These past three years I’ve developed myself a lot. I’ve truly grown as a person, and can even call myself a man now. I feel as if though I’ve gone through a huge metamorphosis, where this long huge chapter in my life has shown my development and progression. In these past 3 years, I’ve overcome my minor depression, fallen in love, been dumped, become more assertive, become tougher and wiser, much more passionate, compassionate, adventurous, optimistic, confident, and most importantly certain about my direction and self. My spirit and soul and free and happy. My internal world has peace and balance. Perhaps others may not see me as that way, I don’t know. I strive to be a never ending source of optimism and happiness for those around me. I don’t know where my fate will take me to next, all that I know is that I am looking forward to it. If fate decides to give me good, I will be grateful for it and cherish it. And if fate decides to give me misfortune, I will fight it and bend fate to my will or die trying, all the while being grateful to fate for giving me an opportunity to go through a challenge. Life is boring if only good things happen to you, you need some hardship to build character after all.

This has been an incredibly long post. I didn’t expect it to go this long, but I just wrote for you an abridged story of 3 years of my life. Not that anyone would really care to be honest lol. But I liked writing it. Maybe you’ll read it and enjoy my story. Till then, see you next time.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.