Buffering. Don’t you hate that word? Where did it even come from? Do you remember seeing buffering for the first time? For me it was back with windows media player. I would download a song and it wouldn’t play for a while, but instead it would just say buffering with a percentage of completion listed next to it. I hated it, but it became just another part of slow technology. It took time for the data to transfer to the screen in front of me. Remember the old AOL dial-up sound effects? I can hear it now loud and clear. Why? Because I can’t tell you how much time I spent just sitting at the desk and listening to it boot up. Buffering has changed forms over the years, from that percentage sign, to a rotating hourglass, to spinning circles, and finally to the colorful spinning wheel of death (for Mac users). It comes in many shapes and forms, but it is always the same lesson: patience. Thinking about all this during my week has led me to a realization. My life is buffering.
1. Data is Downloading Constantly, Take It In.
The last two months have been an overload of information. I have quickly changed from a teacher to a student. My new job has given me not only hundreds of new contacts, but also a wealth of information about politics, associations, and communication. It is amazing that everything I am learning now cannot be found in any textbook around. I can’t quite say how far along in the process I have come, but I am so far in that I couldn’t imagine turning around at this point. When I think back to all that time I spent being frustrated with how slow the internet pulled up or how long it takes iTunes to update, I feel better knowing that something is actually happening. Data is actually being moved into my computer. The same is true in my life. I am not a static player. The world is not just moving around me and I am watching it pass. It’s the complete opposite. There is a transfer.
I would get so frustrated with students and people that simply just let the world pass by them without any thought about what is going on. Take a moment and make sure that you are aware of your surroundings. Research a topic. Find a hobby. Listen to the news. Read a Book. Travel. Go to a museum. Volunteer. I am not advocating no peace or no rest, but simply to study life around you. Do not wake up one day and realize that you have just been a bystander. Make an impact to the world around you, don’t just let it impact you. Find your niche and run with it.
2. Don’t Download the Wrong File.
At my new position at work, I have the best data center to download information from: my dad. I share an office with him and spend most days just feet from him. He absolutely knows his business. I get the privilege to learn from him. I picked a great place to get my information. I have also had the pleasure of meeting his contacts and learning from them as well. Through this collaboration of many people, I have been able to make decisions about how I want to run business and what my strengths and limitations are. Without good resources, I would not have a single bit of hope as success.
The title of this lesson is misleading. Yes, sometimes you can download one bad file that contains a virus and shut down your entire computer system. But, that is not my lesson here. I come to say, surround yourself with quality counsel and people. I always try to have people around me that are smarter than I am. I desire to be the dumbest person in the room, not because I want to be unintelligent, but instead I want to use those opportunities to learn as much as I can from those that know. At some point, I want to be the kind of person that people want to be around for the same reason.
3. Buffering Gives You Time To Think, Don’t Waste It
What did I ever do with all those minutes I spent sitting and waiting for the internet to boot up? Think about all the wasted time of sitting. But as I analyze, that time spent with just the sound effects was wonderful wasn’t it? I could get the desk cleaned, I could set out some things for work, or make a list. One thing that being out of the classroom has shown me is I have actually never really thought about what I wanted to do with my life. Honestly. I chose my major (Math), because the only A I had my first semester was Calculus (true story). I chose teaching from the fact that I spent all my free time working with kids in inner city Jackson. At graduation I already had a job and from the first day at my first job until my last day teaching, I never had time to think about my future. The only steps I took in that direction was to get a Masters in Business Administration a few years in.
After seven years of working full time in education and part time in just about any other way to make money, I am finally awarded the freedom to search for work that I am passionate about. I loved teaching. Don’t misunderstand that. But after being in this transition period for two months, I have had the time to truly analyze my strengths and weaknesses. I have also started to dabble in areas that I would never have dreamed I would have had enough time to work on. Writing a book was a goal of mine for a while and now I have finished my first one. I have also started pursuing a few other endeavors that I don’t want to write about just yet. Every day I feel more assured that leaving my teaching post was the right decision. That is such a blessing, to be able to step out on a limb and see where it goes.
All this has brought me to say, don’t waste that buffering season in your life. Fall is such a fantastic time to transition. We typically think of the new year as the only time to make changes, but I disagree. I love the fall. This fall I have begun to change almost as much as the leaves in the Smoky Mountains at peak week. I am not spending this time just learning, but I am actively going out and grabbing what I can. Sometimes I fail and there are some days that I look up and think, “what did I just do all day?” But I have enjoyed every bit of it. Don’t just stare at the screen waiting for something to download, go out and do something and it will be ready for you when you least expect it.
When the transition is complete and I feel settled into my new role, I want to be able to look back and know a few things. First that I was prepared, that all the information was absorbed and I am fully prepared to take on whatever lies in this new venture. Second, I want to fully appreciate those that are around me to help get there, because I would be very mistaken to think that I did it all myself. Finally, I want to be able to look back and not see a transition period of just waiting, but instead a season of action. That’s the biggest misconception! Transition times are not for waiting, they are for moving forward. Keep moving forward, trying new things, succeeding, failing, and one day you will wake up and see that nothing around you is the same. You’ll be in a new place and you will be so thankful for that buffering spinning wheel of death.