Mr. Chirls didn’t know what he wanted out of life, so he took a finance job, and realized how terrible it was. He quit and took a job that he actually enjoyed.
I was lost as well, until I studied engineering and in my heart realized I was more artistically than technically inclined. I finally committed to architecture.
My parents raised me well, but there were two big items missing from my childhood: work and travel. If I had started both earlier in my childhood, I would have discovered more quickly what I wanted in life.
I wish my parents had not enrolled me in summer school, but rather encouraged me to get a job, or start a business.
During college summers, I took various jobs. I packed clothing into boxes with my friend THG. The other warehouse workers were good and honest men, Japanese American like us, who could have been double my age, yet were doing what we were doing.
In no other venue would I have met people such as them, and I remember thinking I aspired to more than what they were content with. They didn't have families, they didn't seem happy. It was strong motivation to continue with my degree.
I tried to combine work and travel after sophomore year of college. My friend ML had inspired me yet again with stories of Mr. Simón Vélez, known for his bamboo architecture in his native Colombia. I called Mr. Vélez and got a job on one of his construction sites.
When I told my mom, she had a breakdown. She sincerely believed I would be abducted in that country run amok, and my organs auctioned off. I called Mr. Vélez back and told him I couldn't do it.
I did convince her to allow me to go to Europe for five weeks in August. She agreed to foot the bill, since she had denied me a job.
In Madrid, I stayed with my cousin TY, who had grew up in Japan, and taught me how to pair tapas with wine. I befriended a rail-thin Transylvanian named Igor, who invited me into his home in Torino for the week, and took me to a biker rally.
Less fun were the times when I made stupid mistakes: once I handed over my passport to someone claiming to be a guide. I was later extorted for it's return.
I returned with a full sketchbook; I placed select work into my portfolio. At job interviews, it was typical for the interviewer to stop to admire those quick sketches and ask about my travels. Those sketches helped me land jobs.
When my kids are old enough to work and travel, I will be tempted to say “Sounds fun, let's go!” Yet I can't, since I know how important it is that they go it alone.