Your “Just a Phase”s Will Matter One Day

“It’s just a phase.”

This common adult-ism could apply to most of the things I was dead set on doing as a youngster. Like most young people, I’ve had my share of passionate interests. When you have all the free time of youth, those interests can take a strong hold.

At various times, I’ve wanted to be a soldier a theologian, a philosopher, a musician or music businessman, and a farmer (among others, I’m sure). I spent so many hours and dollars acquiring music knowledge, raising chickens, and arguing the finer points of political philosophy. And yet here I am, doing marketing work.

I must regret these passing fads, right?

Wrong. While these things were perhaps “phases” they weren’t just ephemeral. I’m in a new phase now, most likely – albeit one broader and more inclusive than those in the past. But in my current incarnation as a technology marketer and a writer, I have many important (and odd) elements I can only credit to the phases of my past.

From my soldiering phase I’ve learned all kinds of metaphors and anecdotes and characters from battle that come in handy in the battles of the workplace. I’m still fascinated and inspired by the skill and tenacity of warriors. I will still dig into a good military history or biography to this day.

From my theologian and philosopher phases I’ve gained an appreciation for logic that I still use to cut to the core of things today. I still like talking about philosophy with anyone who will engage with me. My theology reading has helped me to enjoy deep conversations with seminary graduates and the like. And the desire for truth and meaning has followed me through faith and atheism to a place where I can see the value of both.

My music phase taught me so much of what there is to know about American roots music. Now I can connect with music fans easily, whether I’m at a festival or a concert or just at someone’s house. I know the genealogy of music, and nowadays I love so much more of it.

And I still cherish the dream of having a farm one day.

Many of the adults around me expected that my phases would pass. What even I didn’t expect is the way that all of my phases have stayed with me.

Our phases make us who we are. And I would expect that if you think closely about your path and the things you love today, you’ll find the traces of all the phases that made up your younger years.

Intellectual credit: TK and Isaac (the Praxis folks) on irresponsible curiosity (hat tip to Madison Kanna) vs. well roundedness and Dan Sanchez on “obsession as a skill.

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James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, intellectual explorer, and perpetual apprentice. He opted out of college to join the Praxis startup apprenticeship program and currently manages marketing and communications at bitcoin payment technology company BitPay. He writes daily at

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