How the f*** I got here

On March 3rd 1987 I was born in Juiz de Fora, a city at the border of the brazilian states of Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro. My dad was a systems analyst and my mom a management intern, both born in Rio who happened to meet and marry while living and working in that city. At the age of 5, in 1992, I got my first contact with computers. It was an i386 box running MS-DOS with 8MB of RAM, a 5 1/4 FDD, a black and white tube monitor and a dot matrix printer attached.

A couple of years later I got introduced to computer programming through a series of small exercises my dad used to pick up for me from a photocopied VB 3.0 manual he kept around his desk at home. That first experience however didn't lasted long and it wasn't until 1998 when I had my first contact with HTML that I really felt like I was building something with code. By this time the Internet was already playing a big role in my life. I would spend my days on IRC chat rooms and logged in online forums chatting, looking for game cheat sheets and interesting software to try out. Around the same time I also first heard about the term Open Source, Linux and other programming languages such as Pascal, C/C++, Java, Pearl, Delphi and Microsoft's ASP.

More years passed and I was once again indifferent about computers until I found myself interested in audio recording and MIDI. More or less at the same time I also got hooked by Macromedia Flash and spent days and nights dreaming about the day I'd have a digital drawing pad to model game scenarios and graphics for my websites. Through out my life I always found ways of taking advantage of this powerful object with which I grew up by. Looking back from now, I become amazed by how technology has evolved. Today there is basically no limit to what you can do with computers and I get really excited about helping others take advantage of this power in their lives the way I did for myself, but smarter and faster.

To actually tell you the truth, I’m just a rebel college dropout still dreaming with a formal academic degree. Now living in Argentina I’m enjoying what is one of the few advantages one can have as a citizen in this country: free, accessible public education. Back in Brazil the situation is completely different and in order to have access to free higher education one must go through an unhealthy competition they call Vestibular. Those who can’t approve, as I did, got to try again in the next year or go to a private institution if can afford one. In that country most private institutions are garbage. Some of the priciest get the job done with some careers. In my experience I joined three of them and learned everything but how to pass exams and be happy about life.

It all started about ten years ago when I kicked off the Law school at Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, or just PUC as people call it. Although I never really wanted to do that, anxiety and family pressure took me in. My dream at that time was to become free from parental economic dependency but I also wanted to make them feel proud of me. In March 2004 I turned 18 to realize I had lived most of my life unhappy with the way the world is. I used to complain about myself, my friends and my parents relationship. I was actually upset about almost every aspect of my life. I couldn’t understand existence and struggled to find a reason to keep going.

As it proved to be the case, I failed in this first attempt to get a diploma and live a so-called successful adult life. My way of living wasn’t coherent with the routine I encountered studying at that institution. During that time the little moments of joy I had were all related to outside and radical sports, music, having fun with girls and smoking marijuana. I just couldn’t adapt to an everyday two hours commute back home from college even though I was doing it driving my own car, a gift from my family for being a good child.

An year passed and I decided to make a shift into what I thought was a better solution to the urge I felt to live the ultimate happy life. I wanted to have the best people around me, the best clothes, the best skills, wanted to be at the best places, everything as subjective as it looks like. I desired a wonderful, impossible, fulfilled, altruistic, intellectual life and I didn’t wanted to disappoint my parents who already had spent an year on private college bills wishing only the best for me.

So I changed and started from scratch in another renowned private institution called Escola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing or just ESPM. The Law school wasn’t giving me a perspective on making anytime soon the kind of money I was wishing to make so I took a chance becoming a Design student. I knew I had learned a few good things in the past year and I knew I could take advantage of my computer knowledge by studying a visual communication career, so I did it.

Time went by and I was quite stable in my new path except for one thing. The price my parents were paying for that kind of education was at the moment probably 5 times the minimum wage in Brazil. The life I was living was simply unsustainable and the more I advanced into that career, the more I realized it was no different from my previous experience. In Rio a graduated Design student in general would get paid a misery outside in the market and internships were simply an excuse for labour exploitation. I was disappointed once again.

By the second half of 2009 I was about 2 years away from my graduate diploma on Graphic Design. However the economic situation of my parents and their relationship deteriorated a lot in this while and myself, I became deeply involved in a toxic relationship that took me into none but confusion. That period was one of the worst in my whole existence. I was completely lost and detached from all the values I cherished. I was certainly far from accomplish my goals and definitely needed to change.

Following a colleague who had just arrived from an year long student exchange program in Portugal, I decided to leave ESPM and finish my graduation in another, cheaper private institution. In august 2009, longing to spend less on college tuitions I joined Centro Universitário da Cidade, or simply UniverCidade. I did it aware that I wouldn’t make it once again. I did it because I couldn’t assume it to myself. My parents expectations and simply my way of dealing with daily life had morphed into a life long trauma and although I felt ready for duty, the market wouldn’t open its doors for me. I wasn’t ready for that market. One year later I would give up my Design degree altogether throwing a lot of money and time straight into the trash can.

Five years more had passed since the first time I stepped into a private college classroom. I definitely learned a lot of things in this while, still I couldn’t quite understand why I failed so many times. After seeing what really goes on at these private academic institutions, I just couldn’t accept that I was the only one to blame for not being successful. I concluded that formal education was a big trap, at least private formal education and that made me positively turn back to the public path.

On march 2012, after a period dedicated full time challenging myself to find a way to make money as an independent Design consultant I finally joined a public university. This time it wasn’t Rio de Janeiro, but Florianópolis a capital city in the south of Brazil. Unfortunately during the second half of 2012, workers at Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, or UFSC, stopped demanding better salaries and working conditions. I ended up joining them and finished this year failing every single course. Nonetheless for the first time as a college student I finally felt I was really part of something relevant. The public university in Brazil beyond it's problems is a huge democratic space. I realized it doesn't matter what career you are studying, the point is to claim your share over something you own as a citizen right.

Yes, I left again. Studying Computational Mathematics is not easy and I didn’t managed to sustain myself without a job. Employers couldn’t absorb me and I couldn't absorb employers, moreover my family wasn’t able to financially help me anymore. I realized I would have to raise the white flag for a moment and submit myself to any job that could help me keep going. In 2013 I worked at three different places. First for two days as a secretary desk on a pharmaceutical products distributor. After that I found a part time job during the weekends as a designer for a print sport newspaper and finally in June 2013 I got a formal job. For approximately 5 months I worked as a "Managed Services Technician", whatever that means, for an IT multinational serving a brazilian public giant, then I dropped once again.

I did it because there were too many restrictions placed by executives which were simply blocking me from accomplish the very tasks proposed by them. Also the money I was getting doesn’t made me able to afford a peaceful place to live. At this moment I was a 26 years old guy living in an apartment that used to be a home for me, my brother and my two parents. By that time it was just being occupied by me, my brother, our girlfriends and my mom. I had to realize that wasn't my home anymore.

Now I’m trying again. I managed to find a place to live where I'm able to have peace of mind. I’m back into a public university where I hope to become a teacher and I don’t regret about any of the choices I made in the past. I’m still 27 and I’m full of different experiences to share which luckily will lead me to become a valuable professional in the future. At this moment I can only say I have some design and engineering skills. I don’t have a shiny portfolio and I don’t have a wonderful title to exhibit. Surely I’m educated and certainly people will find on me a valuable person. Maybe over the next years I’ll be able to satisfy all of my expectations as it should. My plan is to keep working to build up success within formal education. For now, that is yet to come.