What I believe in can be summed up in a single phrase: if you have something good, you take good care of it. However, I prefer the shorter version of it, which is being responsible. It’s a belief that permeates every aspect of my life; from exercise to my free time activities. Yet this wasn’t always the case with me and my life as my early years can attest.
Before I went to college, my life was tantamount to a tattered mess. I had a weak constitution that inevitably lead to missing school days, and my disabilities meant I often needed more time to learn something than others of my age group. As a result of this, a good portion of my knowledge came from the tutelage of private instructors whose lessons didn’t quite follow the course curriculums of the school district. This later came back to haunt me when I finally took the placement examinations for my first year at the College of DuPage. I ended up being placed in courses below my actual education level, leaving me with more free time than I knew how to manage. Ultimately, I turned to gaming to fill the time and ended up spending a good portion of my free time with my first massive multiplayer online (MMO) gaming experience, Final Fantasy XI.
However, playing an MMO turned out to be a far different experience compared to what I was expecting. Final Fantasy XI, along with Everquest and other titles from 2002 and prior were among the first generation of MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games). As such, they required a significant amount of team work and social interaction to succeed. Thus, while Final Fantasy XI was fun, it also included responsibilities. Scheduling for activities was essential as groups required specific player avatars to complete group activities. In addition, it could take months to gain one piece of equipment a player needs to improve his “in game” avatar, so time management became a significant factor in playing these games.
This shift in gaming experience suddenly made being reliable a priority in my life. I picked up memo books to keep track of both my real life and “in game” activities and I gained a sense of focus. However, not all the lessons I learned from playing the game were necessarily fun experiences. At one point I lost an item I had spent three months acquiring, resulting in a rather grim realization that I had to keep track of and take good care of what I owned.
Of course, I don’t owe the entirety of my belief in responsibility to Final Fantasy XI. Much of the positive side to responsibility was taught to me by John C. and David C., who were my two major instructors for Advertising Design at the College of DuPage. John and David carried a passion for the field of Graphic Design in a way I had never seen or experienced. To John and David, projects were training towards a real, tangible goal. Each one was a step to filling out a portfolio that would ultimately be viewed by others to determine one’s marketability, and in this light the projects had to be well done. As a result, my projects and school work finally became more than just tasks to be completed and instead became learning experiences.
Ultimately, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I had developed a belief in responsibility. If I couldn’t take care of myself and the things I held important to me, I’d never be able to survive on my own or ever become independent. As a result of this revelation, I began analyzing my life and decided to take the Briggs Exam and the Strong Interest Profile. I discovered interests in business and computer science and began taking courses at the College of DuPage before transferring to Northern Illinois University. It is interesting to see how powerful the strength of belief is in hindsight, and I hope others have found something as strong to believe in as my belief in responsibility.
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