Apparently it's been obvious to everyone but myself for the last however many years that my huge passion in life is learning. Education gets dragged into everything I do, and practically the only way I'll be motivated to learn or do something is if it can be used to teach someone else. This week, Lynn and Gill finally got through my head the thing I've been saying to everyone else for years but never did myself. It's okay to do what you love. And as a main job, not a side one.
It's okay for me to not pursue a hardcore ECE/CS PhD right after Olin. It's not that I don't have the smarts to do it - it's that my focused passion, right now, is in using that engineering knowledge to hack education and get more people into engineering, and that I should go for that and that it's okay. I always thought of education as my "side thing" because I'd be wimping out and "wasting" my technical gifts otherwise, but it'd be just as much of a waste to not make use of my love for and gifts in education as well. It's not that I can't do engineering, or that I don't love it. It's that I love this side of it more.
There's a story Rob Martello tells about how it took him three years of reading history books after his engineering work at night to realize that hey, why should the ten minutes of history reading be the best part of my day? Why can't that part be my main work instead? Similarly, when I added up hours and realized that I was reading about things like Constructionism for 12, 15 hours every week and my 2-credit independent study with Lynn on programming textbooks was consuming more time than my 4-credit engineering classes, it was like a light turned on.
At the end of my conversation with Gill, I asked him if this was what it felt like to find what you loved and let yourself love it. He said yes. I thanked him, walked outside, danced all the way back to East Hall, lay in the grass, and cried for joy.
I still don't know what I'm doing with my post-Olin life exactly, but I now know that it doesn't have to be a technical PhD (and actually, that it probably won't). I'll probably get an ECE or CS PhD somewhere down the line, but that'll be a decade or two after, when/if I find part of that discipline that I love and want to focus in on.