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My Archie Conundrum – John Styn

Life is choices.
With a few exceptions, we always have choices.
Even when we feel trapped, it is usually because we simply don’t like our options.
Sometimes the hardest choices to make are when we like multiple options.

This week I have been struggling with my own “Betty vs. Veronica” situation.

For those of you who were not huge Archie fans, Betty was the sweet blonde who competed with raven-haired Veronica for the affection of Archie, the ginger.

Year after year, he strung both girls along. (Presumably, because they were comic books for children, nether coupling ever got *too* intimate… so his two timing never really became an issue.)

Sometimes it is much harder to have 2 options that you like. It can become more about “rejecting” one than picking another.

My personal Betty and Veronica is regarding a weekend in March.
Will I go to Mexico for “Fuente Eterno” or to Austin for “SXSW?”

I have tickets for both. I have dear friends going to both. I wish I could keep dating them both indefinitely. But life is not like comic books.

I have been participating in SXSW for over 10 years. It is like my “geek Burning Man.” I’m on the steering committee, have been on a dozen panels, given solo talks, and even hosted the Web Awards for a number of years. I get to see tons of people I only know online and am surrounded by digital geniuses who inspire me. It is also the only tech conference that I still go to and play a role in. In some ways it is the symbolic link that helps me maintain my role as an “expert” in the New Media field.

Funete Enterno is a 500 person Burning Man-style event held at a magical hot springs location in Baja Mexico. I have never attended but continue to hear that it is a “must-do” event for “people like me.” I’ve heard it described it as a more sacred, more loving, more intimate slice of The Playa.

It feels like the decision is more symbolic than simply deciding how to spend a weekend. It feels like I am choosing the tone of the next chapter of my life.

Will I continue to pursue a path as a Digital Media Consultant? Assisting companies with the technologies and concepts I have been playing with for the last decade? It is certainly an area in which I am considered an expert and seems the most logical career path.

Or will I commit more seriously to the spiritual writing/speaking/teaching path that continues to develop in me? I don’t know what this future looks like, I only know the values and ideas that pull me in that direction. Is there a way to support myself down that path? I don’t know.

Known vs. Unknown.
Security vs. Adventure.
Expertise vs. Passion.

Part of me wants to get advice from friends. But the reality is that I am the only one who can make this choice. This choice needs to come from inside me, not from any external logic. The truth is, I’m scared. I know that my marketability as a digital consultant is only of value if I keep up to date on the latest trends and tech. So getting off the treadmill for a year – or even a month – feels like it would have profound effects on my career.

But maybe that is the Fear talking.

Maybe I need to let go of this trapeze bar- and float in uncertainty before I can even see what the next -more wonderful- bar will look like. Or maybe I will fall. Hell, maybe a fall is what would be best for me.

I think I know what I need to do. The promise of that unknown trapeze bar is too much to let Fear stand it the way. It may be time to loosen my grip on the career and reputation I’ve built.

I’ve told myself this is the chapter of floating more – and right now the current is saying, “Let go…”

I hope my friends will understand: Deep down, Betty was always the girl for me.


Jan 14, 2010

  • Kelly Fay

    The most powerful way to live is to be anchored in the moment, yet remain keenly aware of life’s urgings to move and to grow. – Dr. Roger W. Teel

  • Katie DiSimone

    No door will shut if you choose the other one. It is still there. Still open. The handle might look different, but the door will still open for you to walk through.

    You can choose one event, but it won’t lock you into one career path over another. But, you already knew that, didn’t you? It’s a process of development. That’s the best part of all.

    (spoken as a person who got an engineering degree and then decided to start follow a photography passion. torn between two sides of a single brain…until i found out that i can still listen to both. you wrote about that well when you described losing keys at burning man. something about believing the new viewpoint of “it was all going according to plan. i just didn’t know what that plan was before it happened”?)

  • Halcyon

    I agree to some degree. I know I have made career paths that definitely closed doors for me. (Thank goodness!) But no matter what, I will never be locked in. And THANK YOU for the lost keys story reminder! 🙂

  • BootSector

    What lost key story ?

  • Halcyon

    the key story was something I shared years ago. Not sure if I ever wrote about it.  I’ll try to find it if  I did.

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