For most of my life, I tried to play by the rules. It worked for a while, doing what I was told and what I thought I should be doing. At a certain point, I hit a roadblock. My life wasn’t going anywhere and I wasn’t getting any better in any aspect of my life. Years felt like they were disappearing in a blink of the eye, even if they were filled with pockets of inspiration.
After enough moments of inspiration and a sudden bout of self-initiated courage, I stepped out of my comfort zone and began challenging my own limits and what I felt was impossible. I created the Venture 15 project in hopes of pinpointing my goals and ambitions – and then taking steps towards them.
My name is Austin Pranger. Sometimes I go by “Aeua,” depending on which community I’m with. I’m twenty-three years old, was born and currently live in New Haven, Indiana. I’m an introvert who enjoys writing, gaming, community development, entrepreneurship, art, leadership and much more. As introverted as I am, I still love to connect with others and hope to find a crew of people who share similar ambitions.
For most of my life I’ve been pretty quiet – painfully shy, actually. I was a People-Pleaser, avoided conflict, was always anxious about social situations, and generally pretty soft spoken. While not necessarily bad traits on the surface, they hurt me in ways I can’t quite describe. In recent years, I begun to realize this with the help of some very close friends. Even though it’s taken me years to get to this point, I’m glad that it happened at all. I could have gone the rest of my life trying to fit in, following the rules and trying to be someone I’m not.
With the past few years, I’ve gotten a little more ambitious … a little more daring. For someone who used to be shy and recoiled at the thought of being individually unique, this is a huge step in the right direction. While my endgame may change in the years to come, I now know that I can’t simply follow someone else’s path unless it inspires me or helps me get to where I want to go. But the key is that I must know what I want to achieve, not what others want me to achieve.
I now actively identify challenges that terrify and work myself to take them on: not so that I can abolish fear, but so that I can recognize it … and still overcome it. I know that each time I walk through a fear and come out alive on the other side, I’ll be that much stronger to take on bigger challenges.
I like to think that my life is separated into different chapters, like in a book. The first chapter is the majority of my life: elementary school and my younger years. I was shy, quiet and didn’t have a lot of friends. I only opened up when I was with cousins, friends and family. But even then, there was only a handful of people I ever really felt comfortable around. While I participated in different activities growing up, I probably would have never touched any of them if it wasn’t for my dad encouraging me to do so.
The second chapter began in 2008 when I began my campaign through World of Warcraft, a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMO or MMORPG). It wasn’t the first time I had played the game, but it was at this time that I approached the game in a completely different manner.
When I started up that second time, I created a new character by the name of “Aeua.” It essentially began a new chapter of my life. I’ve met some incredible people, learned incredible things and experienced some tremendously empowering events through this character. Even though I no longer play today, this game and this character was easily one of the biggest positive impacts in my life.
I learned an incredible amount about myself through this character and the experiences I had through her and during her era in the game. Without a doubt, Aeua was the catalyst for many changes in my life. I may have be a completely different person if I hadn’t made her or gone through the same tribulations that I had.
Discovering a New Life
The more I spent playing World of Warcraft and experiencing things through Aeua, the more I learned about myself. During my time in the game, I met an individual through a guild of which I had been a part of; a friend of a friend, at first. As time went on, I got to know her a little better and at some point we became close friends. To this day, she is one of my closest, trusted friends. And while she’s important in my journey, she taught me something I can never forget, let alone repay.
While I don’t follow the words of the book as strictly as I used to, the core meaning still resounds within me, my beliefs and everything that I do. The fundamentals of the book preach that you need to focus exclusively on what you want, make it clear to yourself, believe that is possible and take inspired action towards accomplishing it.
What the book preached felt to me unreal and even superstitious, but I was both desperate and hopeful. So I gave it a read and it completely transformed my system of beliefs. Whether there is any truth behind the otherworldly power behind it all, I have no idea. I can only “know” as much as anyone else and their own religions and beliefs. To me it is not important about the details and specifics about how it works or who is pulling the strings. If I’m happy and inspired to live my life, then that is all that matters to me.
It taught me that my life is nobody’s hands but my own.
Venture 15: Set the Course
At the end of the the year 2014 I started to get a lot more aggressive about identifying my hopes and dreams so that I may one day achieve even a fraction of them. I had done this countless times before in the past: writing down my dreams, what I wanted to have or accomplish. Somehow, they always ended up in a messy pile of papers and thrown away. I wasn’t happy with where my life was going; all I was doing was working, gaming and sleeping. Even if I was enjoying parts of my day or week, my focus wasn’t completely where it should have been: being happy. However, when the end of the year was rolling around, something … clicked. Venture 15 was born.
January 1st came around and I did just that. My life has been nothing but an uphill trend since I made that decision. And a huge part of that change came from…
One Rebellious Investment. It made me challenge my own status quo, helped move me towards activities that inspired and challenged me. It opened my eyes to a complete new avenue to pursue; I don’t know if I will succeed nor if I will fail, but I know that it is what excites me right now. And I would be a fool if I didn’t at least give it a try.
As I pursue that Rebellious initiative, I continue to strive towards my goals and ambitions that have been mapped out in the Venture 15 project. As I do so, I’m keeping my eyes peeled for similar travelers who have set their own course and are venturing into challenges of their own. I hope to not only learn from them but to be able to bring myself up to their level one day.
– Austin Pranger
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”Theodore Roosevelt