This I Believe

Russell - Lawrence, Kansas
Entered on February 17, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe in big crazy life-altering risks. The kinds that make your family and friends question your sanity but seem to make the most sense in the world to you. I believe that following your instinct when you feel the pressure to conform but the desire to break free is not only liberating, but can rank among the best decisions of your life.

Looking back on my life to see how I got to where I am, I see many things I did that on the surface might not have made much sense to others: I dropped out of college after two years, I got married when I was “too young,” I had kids when I really wasn’t sure how ready I was to be a grown up. My family’s response varied from supportive to barely tolerant at times, but these decisions ended up going quite well. I returned to college a year after dropping out to pursue an engineering major and graduated with honors. I have been married to the woman of my dreams for almost eight years now. I can’t imagine a life without my beautiful children.

The scariest risk I ever took was leaving behind a successful, well-paying career, liquidating the lion’s share of my belongings, and returning to the quasi-monastic existence of a student. I turned thirty during my first semester back. Thirty years old and making $23,000 a year with a wife and two very young children. This was not where I was ‘supposed’ to be at this point in my life. I was earning a pittance when I should be cashing in; I was in debt when I should have been saving up. I presume the jury is still out on how this latest crazy risk will turn out; I already know one thing for sure. The fact that I am even trying has made me feel happier and more complete than I ever felt while doing what I was “supposed” to do.