When I was 8 years old we got our first computer. I remember thinking, “why do we have this? Why do we have a computer at home? Computers are for the ‘rich and fancy’ people or for school work”. Growing up, the only other person I knew who had a computer was my grandfather, who I watched use DOS.
The excitement in my household surrounding the new computer was overwhelming as an 8 year old. Growing up, I was neither rich nor fancy – so this was a big deal. I knew my computer was a little different from my grandfather’s, so I spent time learning my computer with Windows 97. I was always a curious child and I spent hours learning how the computer ‘worked’, the limitations of the system, what I could make it do, and how I could customize it. Because I knew quite a bit more than my parents did, (since they had spent 27 years without a computer in their house) and I would often help them on the computer – which benefited me even more.
This natural curiosity sparked my love for technology and continued through high school. This first experience with our home computer fueled me to continue to take computer classes through middle school and high school. I took computer business classes, computer design classes, programming classes- any course work that had me working on a computer. I even took an advanced biology class my sophomore year because they gave you a laptop to work with for the whole school year! So, I endured a year of upper level biology to have a chance to have my own laptop. I went on to compete in Virginia’s Future Business Leaders of America’s state competition for design, after winning the Richmond regionals. I placed second in the state!
I love technology and business and how it all worked together, but I made a mistake when I started college. I’m not sure why college students are allowed to make one of the biggest decisions of their life at 18. Who thought of that idea? At this impressionable age, we are pushed to make critical decisions in a juncture in our life where freedom and flexibility is fairly new. At 18, I wanted a secure life, and I wanted to major in something I knew would result in good job opportunities after graduation. With this in mind, I started college and began pursuing a biology degree, with a minor in chemistry at Virginia Commonwealth University… WHAT WAS I THINKING?! I didn’t hate it because the coursework was difficult- I am smart, and a great critical thinker. I hated it because it wasn’t engaging and I just had no passion for it at all; I didn’t enjoy lecture halls with 500 students at the biggest University in Virginia. I didn’t like reading books, and regurgitating the knowledge that professors thought you should know. There was no critical thinking, no creativity at all. I never finished my degree because it wasn’t my passion, and as much as I tried to like it, I just really, really hated it.
Then my life comes to a screeching halt. I am 24 years old, brilliant, thirsty for knowledge, wanting to prove to the world what I can do but no degree, student loans up to my eyeballs. A passion for computers, technology and business that had gone by the wayside, or so I had thought.
In February 2015 someone took a huge chance on me, and I will be forever indebted to him. I received a job opportunity working at a research and development company that focuses on technology and software. It was in a different state hours away from where I grew up and where my family was, but it didn’t matter, I couldn’t hold myself back any longer. I instantly jumped at the idea of being able to work with computers again. To have an opportunity in something I was passionate about without a college degree, and someone who wanted to work with me and teach me. Even if I wasn’t sure what I was doing, I knew I was smart enough to figure it out. The Internet is the most useful tool in modern time, if you don’t know how to do something- believe me, you can find a course on the Internet or someone has had the same question as you. I loved the thought that anything I ever wanted to know was literally at my fingertips. That concept and reality of the Internet is rarely considered now that it is so common.
Taking the world by storm is easier than you think. In the world of social media, online gaming, and online shopping, everyone gets so caught up with who said what, and what picture they posted or what is on sale today. The concept of the Internet as the greatest learning tool gets lost and convoluted. Literally anything you could ever want to learn is online. I don’t think people realize the plethora of knowledge at their fingertips, or if they do realize it -they take it for granted. You can take courses online, FOR FREE, that furthers your education in any subject. Just take the initiative, take the plunge, take the risk. Since taking this job there is so much I didn’t know, and didn’t realize I didn’t know, but I learned. I took the time, did research and figured it out on my own. I learned that social media, and who posted what picture doesn’t matter, nor will it ever matter in life. What matters is following your dreams, and becoming the best version of yourself that you can be and continuing to grow as a person. The motivation to continue your education and continue the growth of knowledge through the Internet is one of the best decisions you could ever make. As Mahatma Gandhi once said “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” The Internet is a great tool to challenge yourself to become a better person, and live for a better tomorrow.
By: M. Maddox