April 19, 2011:
You are not someone that can sit back and think you’re great when you’re not, and you are not someone that can give yourself a break. You can take advantage of a situation and then feel that it is ok for you to do so, but you’ve never given yourself that leeway. You hate yourself more than you let on, and while you believe that a lot of that has to do with your brain chemistry, a lot of you believes in this simple truth; make your own life and make yourself happy. Simple, isn’t it? If you are miserable, then what do you have to chance? Think about it more, don’t fret and get anxious like you always do. You’re done with the making up part of your life. You’ve suffered for your sins, now it’s time to move on. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, stop feeling that you don’t deserve greatness… Do the next step, and stop asking if what you’re doing is right and do what you know you should.
This was a full two years before My MS diagnosis. I was living in State College, PA, right off the campus of Penn State. I was in my last week of driving delivery pizzas for Pizza Hut. The next week I would move to Philadelphia, jobless, and I would set out on my journey.
This mentality, these times of darkness, can be seen strewn throughout a journal that I wrote religiously in 2010, and periodically up until last year. About 90% of the posts from the first 2 years are about my ex-girlfriend, and a lot of the 5-10 posts from 2012 to June 2014 reference her, or the effects lingering from her. But a bunch of stuff is me talking to myself, giving advice, admonishing, and fretting over my mindset.
I tend to look back at it when things are dark, when things sort of just suck. I haven’t determined if it makes me feel better or worse yet. It usually just makes me feel. I’m embarrassed to read how I felt about certain things, and I sometimes find clarity for problems in today’s life by reading what I was thinking on a random night in 2011.
This passage and this journal are why I look at my MS as an advantage, as a good thing. I needed something. I could see myself typing out the same sentences about 3-4 weeks ago if I’d popped open the journal. Granted, I was in a cocky train ride of fun, money, success and girls for the last 3 months, but underneath that was darkness.
I don’t have time for that. I don’t have the energy for it either. I have to win. I have to win myself over. I don’t get how I can look at my life now, my situation now, and not feel absolute pride reading the words of a scared 28 year old wondering where life is going to take him from 4 years ago. I want to start to do things to love myself, and not cockily. I think I am finally doing just that.
I’m proud of a few things in my life. I’m proud that I feel comfortable enough to let everyone in with this blog and videos. I’m proud that I can look in the mirror every day, and want to keep going strong. I am proud that I made something of myself through all the mistakes and swings. I’m proud that I truly care about people and am there for those I care about more often than not.
Well that something I needed to realize all of that is here. I feel like I grew up 15 years in 3 weeks. Unfortunately, I can thank a disease. My MS made me realize that “carpe diem” doesn’t cover everything, and that there are ways to take risks, seek adventures, and live life to the fullest, without being caught entirely in the moment with no regard for the future. It made me realize carpe diem doesn’t mean drinking another beer in a bar I’ve been to 30 times. It made me realize that I want to live. That I went through my first real success and instantly tried to impress everyone that doubted me after my transgressions as a 20 year old. I came home with my broken leg and threw money around. I posted every trip and night out on Facebook instantly. I bought a $400 Michael Kors watch that I’ve worn only on dates and when I go out trying to look cool. I spend too much money on a new wardrobe that I don’t plan on fitting in or caring about in a few months when it’s too big and useless. I went to a Honda dealership to get an Accord, and drove out in the car every 24 year old buys to look like they have money, an Acura.
I don’t care about these things. There have always been 4 things I care about. I lose sight some times of these things, and what matters, but I know that they are what drives me in life.
1- Family. Everyone feels this way, but my aunt Bonny told me once that family is who’s there for you. That you may think you have dozens of friends, but that family is there when it matters no matter what. She’s right and all of them have been, always.
2- Friends. I also feel lucky that I have more than the 1-2 friends that you can always trust to be there too. I can’t even guess how many people I know well at this point. I want to be hanging out with my good friends, having a good time, all the time. I want to be around people that push me to be better. I have that with more than a few people in my life.
3- Challenges. I want to be pushed. I want to push myself. I want to accomplish. I want to help. I want to feel a drive to wake up every morning and hit the ground running.
4- New Experiences and understandings. I love Lambertville, New Jersey. I loved State College and Philadelphia. I just always knew the northeast wasn’t the end for me. I’ve run out of the experiences that I started when I came to SF. I want to fully experience the West Coast. I have more quests to make. I want adventure, I want travel, I want to learn new things and experience as much as I can.
This is where I want to focus. I feel strongly that I only get one shot here on Earth, and I’ve lived the hell out of it so far, but for about 13 years, that message in that caption from my journal has been with me, in my head at all times. That guilt and shame from not being what I could be has driven me mad, has thankfully also driven me to succeed as much as it drove me to be depressed.
I’m saying goodbye right now to that. I’m done not feeling like I deserve to be with someone perfect for me romantically. I’m done with being good in relationships until I start to like the person, because I feel instantly at that point like I’m not worth it, and try way too hard to not fuck it up. I’m done feeling anxious that I will somehow mess up everything. I’m done feeling sorry. I’ve been through it. I’m done feeling like I’m lucky all the time, and that I don’t make anything happen for me.
I’ll say it to anyone’s face, and have. But I don’t think I meant it sincerely before, so here goes. I’m sorry for taking advantage of the privileges provided to me from my family. I’m sorry I didn’t reach my own potential for so long. I’m sorry I didn’t take anything seriously. I’m sorry people believed in me, and I didn’t follow through with everything. I apologize to my parents, to my family, and to my friends that have helped me because they were in a better place than me. I’m sorry to myself. I’m sorry that I put worrying about relationships, life, and work ahead of opening my eyes and seeing the great things that were right there in all of those factors. I’m sorry that this is the last time I’m going to say this about the past.
It’s July 20th, 2014. I’m ready to be proud of myself. Going home to Lambertville NJ after college to be a cook at Dilly’s Restaurant was the low point in 2005. A low point that I didn’t get over for a bit. In fact, maybe not until right at this instant.
I’m sorry it took MS to make me truly realize what is important to me. I’m not sorry that I’m going to focus as much as I can on those things. Through work, I won a free trip from being top earner in quarter 2 last week. I wanted to go to the beach, to Mexico, to Hawaii, to Asia, etc. I totally want to get to the firsts of those adventures.
I’m coming home. I’ll be in New Jersey for two weeks, and I’d love to talk and see as many of the people that helped me be who I am now as I can. If you see me on the street, say hi, I’ll gladly chat about everything. I’ll talk about my plans for the future, many of which are up in the air and unknown (but I’m willing to listen to suggestions!). I’ll talk about what I’m feeling, and what I think the plan is. I’ll talk about old times. I’ll talk about my life in SF. I’ll talk about how thankful I am that I got to this point in my life from growing up where I did, around who I did, and being raised by who I did.
Just don’t expect me to apologize for anything again, because I’m done feeling guilty and ashamed. I’m ready to make myself proud.
First challenge? Climbing Mt. Tam in 2 weeks…. Donate to help others overcome all sorts of challenges of their own
With my 200, and 30 from a friend that I have, we’re already at $780. Let’s get to $1k.