Thursday, December 13, 2012

2012 Christmas Letter

I've had a busy year, so let's get started. It all started on January 1st when I resolved to buy a car. I had lived the first 24 years of my life without owning a car and I figured it was time to grow up and buy a car.

For the first 4 months of the year I worked at Colorado School of Mines doing research on plasmonics. It was a fun job, but eventually we ran out of research money, so on April 30th I said my goodbyes to the ole' Mines campus and went home to figure out what I was going to do. April 30th marked 6 years, 8 months, and 29 days since I first came to Mines -- 4 years as an undergrad, 1 year as a grad, and 1.5 years as a research associate. So it was quite the life change to leave that campus.

The plan was to search for a job like searching for a job was my full time job... That lasted one day. I quickly realized that searching for a job was the last job I would ever want to have, so I decided to just stick with the minimum requirement for unemployment benefits, which is 5 job contacts per week. I set my focus on secondary math teaching jobs, but after sending out many applications without hearing back from any of them, I decided to go for engineering/scientist/technician jobs. Turns out, I had much more response for the field I'm actually qualified for.

But unemployment was more than just job hunting. One application per day does not take a full day, so I took up other things. I taught myself to knit and successfully knit a couple hats. This gave me plenty of time to listen to an audio book of Walden by Henry David Thoreau, which is now one of my all-time favorite books. My mind was very focused on being frugal and self sufficient, so this book was perfect for me. I also started baking my own bread. That bread was so delicious, I could eat at least 5 slices with butter after it came out of the oven. It's a miracle I didn't gain any weight during my 2.5 months of unemployment. I still didn't have a car, so I got enough exercise from my rides out to Golden for church events and other things that I rode my bike to. Being unemployed at the same time as my friend Dave also meant he and I started going on long rides once a week. They were usually at least 30 miles and the longest ride we did was 70 miles.

Right when I fell in love with unemployment I was offered a job to teach math at Colorado Christian University and the next day I accepted the offer. Later that day I received a call from Aerotek, a staffing agency, saying that ITN Energy Systems wanted to hire me and wanted me to start immediately. Well since CCU was an incredibly part time job which would not cover my expenses, I accepted the job at ITN.

So, no more fun, time to work. Now I work for ITN, a research company, trying to develop a thin film battery. I came into the company at a pretty chaotic time, so the first few weeks were very stressful for me, but I eventually got the hang of it. This job has allowed me to learn a lot about batteries, materials, X-ray diffraction, and other things. It's a good job that challenges me and that I enjoy.

Luckily, new jobs come with money, and money helps you buy cars. Cars make some aspects of life simpler and others much less simple. It's nice to be able to drive places, but it's not so nice to have to make expensive repairs, pay for insurance, pay for gas, etc.

So here I am on December 13, 2012 (whew, made it past 12/12/12) and I'm considering whether my life is better than it was a year ago. I think my year was kind of like The Biggest Loser. My 2.5 months of unemployment really taught me about myself. I learned what I needed vs. what I wanted and I made a lot of progress in practicing self-control. But all of a sudden, everything got real plush, real fast, like when the now skinny contestants go back home to where they aren't forced to exercise anymore and the busy demands of life get in the way of their own personal goals. This summer, I had no choice but to practice self-control because if I didn't, my only other option was to fall into becoming a disgusting, lazy slob, without a job. I also had no money, so I had no option but to only buy what I needed. Now that I have a plush job I have a security net to fall back into and I now have the option of letting my personal goals slide. But the fact that I have options reveals my true desires, because I'll only accomplish what I truly desire. So now I am working on answering the question, "Who do I want to become?" And slowly but surely I'm seeing that I want to become the man that God wants me to be.