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What's the point?

Stress, anxiety, fear. Why am I compelled to build a start-up?
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July 2020
Antigua, Guatemala

It was 2017. I was a couple of years into my first software gig and I loved it. I worked with great people, worked on interesting projects, and was learning new stuff everyday. All-in-all life was great and I was happy.

My life goal until then was to simply live a happy, stress-free life - and I had achieved that. It surprised me that I did it so quickly, and it shocked me that it wasn’t enough.

Thanks to my needy human brain I had to do more.

Now the typical big moves in life are to settle down, buy a house, and work until retirement. I never wanted that. There’s nothing wrong with that lifestyle but it just doesn’t interest me yet.

“Progress your career!” they said. Careers are cool too but I was happy coding as-is. I didn’t care to move up and earning more money didn’t motivate me anymore. What was the point?

I was happy but life was too easy.

I suppose I was incredibly lucky to be in that position. As a software engineer I often pinch myself to remember how I fortunate I am. I’ve never experienced ‘the grind’ people talk about nor had to stress about money. I reached a point in life which many never get to experience. I also had the opportunity to follow my dreams. The biggest risk was that I go back to my old life.

I wanted a shock to the system. So my dream was to sell everything and travel to a place I didn’t know with a plan I didn’t have. The idea terrified me. Change like that is tough and flew directly against my dream of a stress-free life. Yet I felt compelled to do it.

The following year I did just that. I bought a 1 way flight across the world to Cuba and have been slow travelling through Central America ever since.

Perhaps it was the challenge that compelled me to go. I didn’t know Spanish and was forced to learn. I was alone and had to make friends. My life was in my backpack and I had to adapt. It’s been nearby 2 years since that flight and despite the initial stress it’s been absolutely incredible.

But once COVID-19 hit I had a similar dilemma. I didn’t want to travel during a pandemic so I thought about my next move. The logical step was to find work but my damn brain wanted more… again. I thought it’d be more interesting to try out the start-up game and I found myself terrified once more. The idea of putting myself out there was stressful. It still is some days.

Why do I keep doing this to myself?

“If your dreams don’t scare you, you’re not dreaming big enough.”

- Ellen Johnson Sirlea

My dream definitely isn’t to become an entrepreneur, but rather live an interesting life as I see fit. I love trying out new things and when I see people do cool stuff I want to join them.

But trying new things can be scary! It forces you to leave your comfort zone and risk failure. It kind of sucks, but it’s exciting too no? It wouldn’t be an adventure if it were easy.

I think I’ve learned to love the challenge. Challenges force you to learn, to grow, to improve yourself. The first step is always hard but the experience is often worthwhile.

So for me it’s not about the dream of riches or escaping the rat race. I want to try something new to see if I can do it, to explore new possibilities, and to meet interesting people. Time will tell if I succeed.

Getting a job was the easy option, but this journey is so much more exciting.

So what’s the point of this post? I don’t really know. Maybe do something that scares you once in a while. You’ll probably find yourself better for it.

As for me I don’t think I’ll ever be truly satisfied - and that’s not a bad thing. As humans we are born this way. There will always be another goal, another adventure awaiting, and we will always want to better ourselves.

In the end there is no point, but we can try to enjoy the journey.