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Thanks To YOU

I was hoping to post this article yesterday, given it being Thanksgiving and all, but I just couldn’t get it done..

Given the dramatic shift in my life recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about all the things I have to be thankful for. My focus has been on the positives and what I have to look forward to instead of where I am and what I’m dealing with.

I’ve wallowed in misery and felt sorry for myself quite long enough.

From October 2010 until my interview with Penelope Trunk, I was writing all about getting out of a crappy job. My posts were written out of anger, frustration, and desperation. And while I was honestly trying to help people to understand that life is far too short to waste away in a cubicle, I wasn’t writing what I needed to be writing.

Hindsight is of course 20/20, but I wouldn’t change anything I’ve done with this blog so far (I can hear you Internet marketers groaning now!). After that fateful interview, I have received an incredible amount of support (and a few haters) and I’ve been truly in awe of all of this. I had no clue that the interview and my story would hold so much interest and help so many people.

Needless to say, I am eternally grateful for all the attention and more so, all the genuine caring and thoughtfulness I’ve been privy to. But as I was answering all the comments and emails that have flooded in since the interview, I realized that I have shared very little of myself here.

My goal is to create a personal journey of my life starting at a low point (to say the least) and recreating myself, finding joy in my life again, and pursuing my passions and dreams. My goal is to become a better man, live with peace in my heart, and embrace each day as it comes.

And I want to inspire others to do the same.

And I feel as though I need to share where I came from and who I really am in order to become that person. So here is a brief history of my life and what’s made me who I am today.

1971

Born with Pneumonia and almost die due to a physician error. My father has to restrain himself from beating the doctor to a pulp. Thus begins a lifetime struggle with adversity.

1976

After a tumultuous marriage between my parents, it comes to a screeching halt as my mother leaves us in Michigan with our father and heads to New Hampshire. My father, then in graduate school at Michigan State University, has no savings and very little income. My brother and I, along with my father, sleep in his small windowless office for 4 months. My brother, then 3, gets to sleep in a cabinet drawer.

Divorce papers are filed.

1977

As the divorce proceeding begins, my mother returns to Michigan to claim her children. A bitter custody battle begins. My brother and I are caught in the middle and ultimately taken from our father and sent to live with our mother, who takes us back to New Hampshire. My father is devastated and has no money to appeal. He loses the two most important things in his life. He chooses to be strong and continues his education and begins his PhD program at UCLA.

1979 (The Beginning)

My mother, brother, and I move into a small 2 bedroom apartment where we would live until I finally moved out at age 19. My brother and I also begin our yearly summer long trips to Los Angeles to stay with our father. Our entire summers are filled with sports, swimming, BBQ’s, and trips to Disneyland. We learn how to be boys during these trips.

Our summers are great until the end of August when it’s time to take that long flight back to Logan Airport. I still remember flying alone with my 4 year old brother and the flight attendants bringing us extra pillows and playing cards.

The pain of leaving our father at the end of each summer break was very sad for us and heartbreaking for him. My father would walk us onto the airplane and as we all were in tears, would say our goodbyes. Thus begins my lifelong hatred for airports.

1980-1986 (The Worst Years)

There were some of the worst years of my life. As I got older, the more I wanted to live with my father. And the more I wanted to live with him, the more I was used as a bargaining chip. Child support was always an issue for my mother as she was struggling to make ends meet while trying to raise 2 boys. It became about how much money my mother could extract from my father and his disdain for her grew into hatred. To this day he can’t stand to be in the same room with her.

These were the years that I also began to resent my mother and pulled away from her emotionally. I began to struggle in school and lost all confidence in myself. I became very introverted and lost myself in video games. It was also the time in my life where I started getting bullied.

It was 1985 and I was in 8th grade at Elm Street Junior High School in Nashua New Hampshire. Elm Street was a very foreboding place and the dark hallways always had an ominous feel to them.

It was here that I ran into my bully, Roger. Roger was a tough city kid who just so happened to be much bigger than me and seemed to enjoy fighting as a hobby. I was pretty small for my age and was scared of my own shadow, so I was an easy target.

For whatever reason, Roger decided to threaten to beat me up every day during English class. Each night I would lie in my bed and either cry or try to think of an excuse I could use not to go to school the next day.

I began walking around in fear. I hated school and I did poorly. I hated my mother and avoided her as much as possible. I told no one about my bullying and let it eat at me for years.

I knew that I had no chance of winning a fight against him so I decided to try to befriend him and his tough group of friends instead. It worked. Unfortunately, I betrayed one of my own friends who had said some bad things about these kids and he did get beaten up. I lost my friend that day and began hanging out with my new “friends”.

Fortunately the day never came where Roger actually beat me up. He never touched me. But he might as well have. I carried that pain for many years, even well into my twenties. Hell, I might even still be holding onto it….

1989 (The Year Of Invisibility)

grads

The year of my high school graduation. I spent my three years of high school being invisible. After junior high, I lost touch with the bad kids and really didn’t have any friends at all.

I slept through my days, took all the easiest classes, and avoided most interactions with people. I was obsessed with video games and would spend most of my time at home playing them. In my senior year, I never had a single day of homework. That’s how easy my classes were.

Big aspirations for my future? None at all. All I wanted to do was get through school and never go back. That’s it.

My senior year should have been a good year as it is for so many kids. I didn’t date, didn’t go to my prom, and barely graduated. I actually wouldn’t have graduated at all if I didn’t stammer my way through my final exam in my Business class, which was an oral report on Lee Iaccoca. I was absolutely petrified to stand up and speak.

To this day, I still remember some of the popular kids in my class getting up and running around the class doing victory laps after their speeches. I thought, “why can’t I be like them”? But I wasn’t. I was 5’6 and 120 pounds. I had long stringy hair, bad skin, and crooked teeth.

Not the best experience for me….

1990

Needless to day, I didn’t go to college. Despite my father’s (now a UCLA professor) offer to fully fund my education, I wanted nothing to do with it. Looking back, this was one of the worst decisions I have ever made. At 40, I’m still going to school trying to get my degree. Yea, it sucks..

I did manage to muster up enough courage to almost join the Army though. I took my ASVAB test, did surprisingly well, and was told I could choose from almost any job. I decided that I wanted to be an MP (military police).

Then the fear came back and I chickened out. My recruiter, Sargent Seager, was none too happy, but I just couldn’t pull the plug.

1991-1999 (The Better Years)

I finally came into my own in my early twenties. I hit puberty at like 19 (sad, I know) and started to develop. I also started making friends and actually began dating!

I also started working out like a madman and began to build my scrawny little frame. The girls started noticing me and I of course, noticed them right back. Thus began the fun years. I was trying to catch up an all the partying and fun I missed my whole life and crammed it into a handful of years.

I traveled all over the country, bartended, became a personal trainer, and lived in more than a dozen different apartments. I lived my life to the fullest (or at least what I thought that was). I became shallow, egotistical, and downright arrogant. And I didn’t give a shit about it. I was living for me and only me. I did what I wanted, when I wanted, and never payed any attention to my future.

I also had the most impactful experience I’ve ever had in 1997. I was introduced to a company called LifeSpring, which was a personal growth company who ran seminars and trainings. It didn’t hold much interest for me until I started seeing huge changes in my friends who had gone through it.

Over the course of 6 months, I went through the Basic, Advanced, and Leadership training programs and got the education of a lifetime. The trainings were designed to break down all the self imposed walls we have and allowed us see just how powerful we truly are.

And I did. I broke free from my ego, I spoke in front of crowds, I cried in the arms of another man, and I learned an incredible amount about myself. I forgave, I loved, and I became a better person. I radiated success and love and I received it it return. Things just seemed to fall in my favor all the time and I felt like I could accomplish anything.

It was the most empowered I have ever felt. And it lasted for several years, but the grind of life slowly crept back and I soon found myself forgetting all that I had learned and became the “old” Steve.

It was in 1999 that I also met my future wife.

2001 (The Realization Year)

30thbirthday

I’m working at the Hard Rock Cafe in Denver, living the good life. I’ve got a sweet apartment overlooking the city, a bunch of drinking buddies, and I’m loving life.

Then I turn 30. Oh shit!

I have some type of epiphany and realize that I’m on the fast track to being the creepy 60 year old waiter and decide to make a career change. I decide for no particular reason that I am going to be a high powered stock broker. Given my history as uhh.. nothing, I have little chance of succeeding in that business.

Regardless, I decide that that’s how it’s going to be. I leave Denver, move to Maryland (to be with my future wife), and through a long string of fortunate events, I land an interview with a stock broker at First Union Securities.

Despite the fact that I wear an olive green double breasted suit that is too small for me to my interview, I get the job! I shared the whole story in this post if you care to read about it.

2002-Present

What started out as my dream career in finance quickly turned into a daily grind. After my first year in the business, I knew it wasn’t for me. But I wanted to give it a real go. My boss/partner and I were hired away to another firm in 2004, which sucked even worse than the previous job. The hours felt like days and the days like weeks.

I won’t go into too much detail because my whole blog is about this!

Life

Also in 2004, I got married and we soon found ourselves pregnant. What’s happened since could easily be turned into a book. Suffice it to say that life has not been easy and I’ve become accustomed to daily struggle.

I’ve recently started sharing some of the details of what’s happening in my life and relationship right now, but still need to respect my wife’s privacy. I know you understand.

Shedding Light

My hope is that you have a better understanding of where I’ve come from and why I think the way I do. Many of you know I have a problem taking action, setting and realizing goals, and making difficult decisions.

I certainly won’t blame my upbringing for any of this, but of course it has very much shaped who I am today. But all that aside, I am still responsible for making my life what I want it to look like. The past can only hold me back if I allow it to.

Yes, much of my life has sucked, but it doesn’t have to going forward.

And I won’t let it. I can’t…

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