My name is Vinnie Harned.
I’m a husband, father, freethinker, and at the moment, a Physics student studying at the South Dakota School of Mines. I was raised on a small farm in the Midwest before my family moved to South Dakota six years ago. Since then, I’ve just been trying to figure out how to be human and what ways to best waste my time.
I was homeschooled by my mom, along with my six other siblings, all through high school. To be quite honest with you, I have mixed feelings about homeschooling and its effects on me personally. Nonetheless, it’s still a part of my origin story and a community I was glad to be a part of. If you know anything about homeschooling in the Bible belt, you probably have visions of Bible class taking up 25% of your education and evolution and slavery being ignored in your science and history books. While this is certainly not true for all homeschooling families, it was pretty much the case with mine.
Once I graduated from highschool, I had a lot of figuring out to do. The problem was that I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life or even what I could do. I had always been interested in the mediums of film and television. But for a young boy raised in Southern Illinois, that didn’t seem like an option. I had also been the only one in my family to take a keen interest in science, but the prospect of going off by myself to college seemed too daunting a task even to consider taking on.
Instead, I opted for the route of gainful employment at a young age as an electrician. This field is far from the worst thing I could have done with my time, and honestly, I have a great deal of respect for the blue-collar trades. Plus, it allowed me to get married and buy my own house before the age of 25, which is nothing to sneeze at these days.
Still, I felt empty. I’d always had the drive to do creative things, but between the long hours at work and trying to maintain a family life, I had no time or energy left to do the things I loved to do. So, I thought, if I was forced to spend most of my life working a job to provide for a family, why not endure a few more years of pain and find something I loved?
So after nearly two-years of putting the decision off, I decided to take the leap and go back to school to study Physics–something I dreamed of doing as a kid but never really thought I could pull off. In the time since starting school, I’ve had to face the reality of how hard full-time college is; especially while also balancing a full-time job to provide for a family of two kids.
Nonetheless, I’ve come to realize that in many ways I’m a step ahead from where I could’ve been even if I’d had the courage to make the decision of going to college when I graduated from highschool. I may not be as full of life or energy as I was when I was seventeen, but at least now I know what I want to do with my life. I’m no longer just struggling along trying to make sense of not being able to settle on things.
I’ve come to accept myself as a bit of a Renaissance Man; someone who is able and willing to learn different tricks and trades rather than sticking with one job or hobby all his life. I once heard somebody say life is a long time not to change, and I think they’re right. If I was expected to be the same person at twenty-five as I was at seventeen, everyone would think that was crazy. So why should I expect myself not to be any different between twenty-five and fifty-two?
So now I just let myself dabble in whatever seems fun while also maintaining my school and professional development. If I want to create a music album or write a screenplay, I’ll do it. But I’ve had enough of trying to do creative content for others to appreciate. I’ve realized now that’s almost certainly not something I’m capable of. For now, I’ll just keep creativity out of my job and do my best to keep my job as fun as possible while I can.