Every day, people just like you take charge of their destiny by committing to their dreams and being bold in the pursuit. At revolution.is, we share stories of remarkable people living unconventional lives. Each week for eight weeks, we’ll share one of those stories here, in hopes of inspiring you to begin your revolution. Enjoy!
by revolution.is contributor, Shane Snow
It was during one of those 5:30 a.m. body-boarding sessions that it occurred to me how ludicrous my life was. I was treading water off the shore of Oahu with my surfing buddy, Rick, watching the rays light up palm trees as the sun peeked over the horizon. We were waiting for the next wave set to roll in, chatting with the friendly, old Hawaiian dudes out there with us. It had been Rick’s and my morning routine for the better part of a year.
Having grown up in small-town Idaho, the land of potatoes and dial-up Internet, this ritual occurred to me as preposterous. In high school, I literally thought I would live my entire life in Southeast Idaho. In fact, I only applied to colleges within 100 miles of my house, for no other reason than it was expected. I studied Business Management, because people told me it would be a stable career. Everyone assumed I would go to college, get a corporate job, climb the ladder, buy a house, endure til I was 65, then retire. Not that that kind of life isn’t fine for someone who wants it, but it didn’t sound that awesome to me.
So I moved to Hawaii on a whim. I said “screw it,” and went. And then I stayed.
It was there I realized that where I lived wasn’t the only expectation I could defy. In fact, over the last five years I’ve realized that expectations literally mean nothing.
If you want something badly enough, you can do it. And you should.
After surfing, I went home, ate some pineapple and took my laptop to the park to do some freelance design work. Then at night I rode my bike around town, interviewing homeless people for my blog.
And maybe that’s not ludicrous at all.
I say: Screw expectations. This philosophy has driven every major decision I’ve made since that year in Hawaii. I decided I wanted to go to school again, this time to study what I wanted. Instead of applying to “safe,” local schools, I only applied to Columbia, MIT, and Harvard. I worked like crazy to get in.
Columbia Journalism School took me to New York City, and I loved every second. My father asked me before I went if $70,000 was worth two semesters of education I could get elsewhere for $20,000. He was concerned it might not live up to expectations.
It didn’t matter. I was paying for it, and it was what I wanted to do.
After grad school, I got several job offers, including one as an editor at a major magazine. “What a great opportunity,” everyone said.
Again, the expectation was that when one graduates, one got a stable job. But I turned the job down. I wanted to start my own independent business.
The president of the magazine personally wrote me to ask if I’d reconsider, and when I told him about my dream to create a media company, he said, “I remember when I quit my job to start this business. How can I tell you not to follow your dream?”
To me, the Revolution is Independence. The independence to do what you want with your life, to defy expectations.
To work from home if you want. To move to Hawaii, or New Zealand, or friggin’ Yugoslavia if it makes you happy. To make a career as a freelancer or as an entrepreneur in a field you love.
I want to build a company, write books, draw comics, teach, and live wherever I please. And because of technology—and the truth that the only expectations that matter are your own—I can.
I’m a web geek and journalist. I’ve written frequently for Mashable, Wired, Gizmodo, and others about technology and the future of media. Currently, I work at a startup I co-founded (Contently.com: marketplace for brands and journalists), and I advise an infographics company (Visual.ly).
Amber Rae is a passion catalyst, authority challenger, and motivational muse. In the last 365 days, Amber worked with Seth Godin to launch The Domino Project, helped Derek Sivers turn his book into a best-seller, created revolution.is which shares stories of remarkable people living unconventional lives, and launched a “Passion Experiment” program where she helps people give their dreams direction. She’s been seen in The New York Times, Inc., Forbes, BBC, and on ABC World News. For more about Amber you can visit her website orTwitter.