A Crisis of Confidence

Jackson Carr
June 23, 2023
6 min read

It’s January 22nd, 2015.

I’m waiting for the walk signal at a crosswalk on a cold, rainy, dark winter night, and the only thing I have on my mind is how much school work I have to finish before 8:00 AM the next day.

My friends are waiting on me in the building that’s not even 100 feet away. We’re about to pull yet another all-nighter cramming for assignments and tests due the next day.

The orange hand sign changes to the white walk symbol. I begin to cross the street, and just when I think I'm about to reach the sidewalk, I suddenly feel a heavy impact in my lower back and hip. I hear glass shatter, tires screech, and for a brief moment, I'm extremely perplexed by my abrupt weightlessness. I’m spiraling through the air.

That’s when I realized that I had been hit by a car.

Today, you wouldn’t know this happened just by looking at me since I was one of the extremely lucky ones that wasn’t severely physically injured from that accident, but – mentally, emotionally – I was never the same after January 22nd.

At the time, I was in my last semester of college, and I was in the process of making a decision about whether or not I should go to graduate school. I had grand ambitions, big plans, and even bigger ideas about so many different things, but I didn’t have an outlet for them. On one hand, I felt trapped by a system of education that had swept me along all my life, but on the other I felt that I didn’t have any other options. The system had made it seem like college was a given with guaranteed results.

I eventually had to admit to myself that I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do with my life, and at 22 years old I couldn’t see how another seven years in higher education was going to help me figure that out. In my heart, I knew that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be at that point in my life, but I lacked the confidence to trust my intuition.

After January 22nd, I had to confront all my anxiety about my future — because I had to reconcile the reality of almost losing it. I could no longer take my life for granted. I realized that I was biding my time waiting on my life to “start” instead of making the most of every moment to pursue what I truly loved doing now.

And yet, despite all of this, I still sought validation. I reached out to my friends, my family, and my mentors for guidance. I even went on a YouTube binge looking for answers until I eventually stumbled upon Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It truly changed my life. In it, he briefly explained how he made the big decisions in his life. It was pretty simple. Everyday, he asked himself:

“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? And whenever the answer is ‘no’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

I watched and rewatched the video at least five times. Life had literally hit me with a two-ton death machine, and I was still hesitating. Second-guessing. It was time to change something, so...

I stopped asking for people’s opinions and started making some of my own.

I stopped looking at (and using) social media. I started looking at my own life instead.

I immediately deferred my enrollment in graduate school. I didn’t go back, but if I ever decide to I know it will still be there.

I learned the skills to become a Front-End Engineer by attending a software development bootcamp that had no proven track record at the time because it was the only one in Alabama, and I was hired immediately out of the 10-week bootcamp by a major corporation making over three times more money than I would have in graduate school.

End of story, right? I’ve “made it”! Not quite… because, everyday, I still kept asking myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” Eventually, I found myself saying “no” for too many days in a row again, and this time I wasn’t going to wait for a car to hit me again before I did something about it.

I quit the best paying job I have ever had after eighteen months, and I found myself having to trust that my heart and intuition would guide me to where I truly was meant to be.

After a few freelance clients and six months later, I found myself right back at that same software development bootcamp that I attended after college – except this time I’m an employee. I’m taking all my life lessons and software development knowledge and applying them to help build a life-changing platform and community for other people to join if they make the same decision that I did in hopes of finding their passion and carving out their own path for their life.

So, why am I telling you all of this? To convince you to become a software developer? No.

I’m telling you this so that maybe – just maybe – something I say will be your “Steve Jobs commencement speech” moment. I’m sharing my experience so that if you’re where I was in life on January 22nd – maybe this will help convince you to stop hesitating.

Stop waiting for your life to happen. It’s already happening. There is no “right way” to live your life, but it is yours – and you only have one chance to live it.

So go do it.

“Follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” — Steve Jobs
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