I was born into this world feet first. I’d like to think that I was fighting the whole way, but in all honesty I probably wasn’t. I was a newborn, hell if I can fight my way out of a wet paper bag at that point….
I was diagnosed with a hearing loss in kindergarten.
I grew up in a city of row houses with two hard working parents. My dad was a machinist and my mom sold insurance. She’s probably the most driven person I have ever known. We butted heads many times over the years, but I love her, respect her and think she did a fantastic job raising me despite my father dying young.
I played a ton of sports. Football, baseball, basketball, soccer, ice hockey, tennis, track and field, etc. etc. I was about as “alpha” as it got on the playing field… (I use that word alpha in quotes because I truly hate that word)
I went to an inner city high school. My graduating class was over 1000 kids. It was as diverse as it gets and we had cops and security guards patrolling the school, but none of us ever felt like that was needed. This was in the 1990’s.
We had amazing athletes who never saw their potential due to crime and drugs. I can name a few, but I won’t… but one kid was a Freshman, playing Varsity football and blazing back kickoffs. The next year he was in juvie. We had people achieve full rides to Division 1 schools, only to be home in Reading the next year.
I was honor roll, scored a 1240 on the SAT test after partying the night before. Stupid, but it happens when you are young
After my dad died I rebelled hard.
I put my mom through her own personal hell in many ways. Sure, I never did drugs… there was ONE simple reason why I never did and those of my generation will know this reason.
I finished college late, I don’t use my degree for anything except storing in a box in the closet. It won’t hang on my wall because college taught me very little about life.
I didn’t have a full ride, I wasn’t a sports hero earning accolades in school… I began training at a gym that was a bonafide shithole. I didn’t have fancy equipment, I didn’t have coaches that took me aside and said, “son, let’s show you how to squat”… I learned on my own, as I always did… my mother would say “you always take the hard road” and in many ways she was right.
Deep inside of me will always be that inner city kid who learned how to survive the hard way, not growing up with two white collar parents, but having to see my dad getting laid off several times. Not growing up with a hefty allowance, I had a paper route at age 12. My mom DID buy me my first car at 16, but I had to maintain it, pay for the insurance and earn my keep with it. I was lucky she did that because I sure as hell didn’t deserve it.
Most of my life’s learning was earned. It wasn’t given to me, it wasn’t something that came easy and it wasn’t with a cap and gown standing up on stage in front of 3000 graduates with my frat sign on. It was earned by mistakes, failing, succeeding, and humbling my once overwhelming arrogance and “alpha male” syndrome and realizing that nobody is going to give a shit about you in the end, you have to EARN it.
Earned it I have… I’m a lot different man at 38 than I was at 24. I am smarter, wiser, stronger, I am sure of myself to the point where I can write a blog like this and be honest. I train hard, I work hard, I have marketable skills in the workforce, I am self-sufficient and I am proud as hell of myself.
My mom taught me well and I had a lot of rocky points along the way, but her voice and actions always ring loud in my ear. She was the rock, she stood strong in the face of massive adversity more than I can imagine, and her example eventually taught me how to live.
I look back on my life and I wonder sometimes how I made it this far without major damage. I was the bad boy, and in some ways I still am but that side is diminished. You can’t be 38 and act like you are 24… I’m a Reading, PA kid. I grew up in a town filled with drugs, violence, blue collar workers, a bad economy and an enormous castle on the hill that makes me proud to this day.
As I remember my upbringing, my education, my experiences and my life; I am pretty damn proud of myself. I made it this far and I am will go even further yet.
From life to my job, from my passion to my heart, from the gym to how I approach every single day of my life… it was all a part of my learning experiences and I wouldn’t change that for a damn thing.
I’m a success because I survived.. and that survival reaps great rewards.
Edit 4 years later…
I honestly forgot I wrote this.
Life was quite a growing experience from even 4 years ago to today. I ended up in KCMO, a place I never thought I would be, with a woman that I never imagined I would end up with.
I have progressed from a place of anger to a place of peace.
I remember writing this at a time in my life where I was uncertain of many things, my direction, my future, my place, and my own self-image. I will be honest, 4 years ago was a hard time for me. 2013-2014 were some tough years personally.
Although I believed these words I wrote, I wrote them to reinforce how far I have come in life, not to brag about it.
Now I can look back at this blog and see how much further I have come…
Life is pretty cool that way.
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