Your Cross is Always for Someone Else’s Benefit
This is never something you want to hear when you are in the midst of dealing with whatever trial you are facing at the moment, because even as a seasoned “endurer”, you just want the experience to pass as quickly as possible with as little collateral damage as possible. However, when your perspective shifts from “Ugh, when will this END???” to “To think, after I overcome this, I can help at least one other person — and maybe many others — overcome the same, and more”, you gain a different vantage point on what you’re going through and WHY.
Even your foolish “YOLO” moments can accomplish this reality, although they care certainly not advisable.
After having a veritable “Midas Touch” for most of my life when it came to academics, sports/athleticism and a young entrepreneur, everything came to a crashing halt in each of those arenas at three separate junctures for me.
During high school, where I was pretty well known for my 43″ vertical leap, sub 4.5 second 40 yard sprints and IQ in sports such as basketball, baseball, football and even bowling, I was befallen by Erythrodermic Psoriasis. I nearly died from the disease. Doctors said if I had not come in for surgery when I did, that I would have been dead before that particular month (August 1996) was out. I spent my 12th grade year of high school just recovering and trying to subsist, and nearly FLUNKED English — ENGLISH!!! — as well as whatever Advanced Math class that I was taking at the time. It was bad enough that I did not want to go to school down there, but lost that discussion (a fact that my mother waxed erroneous about the day before I received my Bachelor’s Degree 15 years after beginning high school), but to have any chance of securing a college scholarship ripped away, and to have my linchpin — my previously sterling academic record — now in the toilet, I could not even get into a top tier school for college; something that was all but a foregone conclusion before all of the illness and fallout began.
After co-founding a new non-profit organization in 2004, and pissing off an already envious supervisor with my cocky attitude (I am a choir boy now by comparison, for those who did not know me 8-10 years ago), I was out of corporate by the middle of 2005 and set to embark on full-time entrepreneurship. It looked good for about a year and a half, when we began to struggle to even find funding sources and were eventually forced to put the organization on the shelf; where it has remained since 2008. To compound matters, I had to hurriedly look for employment as 2007 rang in, and had no success. I had to sell my car at the end of 2006, which made it virtually impossible to go to school and go on interviews (or work daily, if I even landed anything). Then I broke my back later that year. Then the Dep… errr… Recession began.
2007 came and went. Depression set in. 2008 came and went. I was in the worst physical shape of my life AND began smoking again. 2007, 2008, no job whatsoever. 2009, two two-bit jobs that barely lasted part of a quarter. Nothing. 2010, tons of hustling, running around with a shady real estate company, back to macy’s after a decade-long hiatus in indentured servitude there, a stint with Yahoo, another stint with another real estate company (these are basically per diems and full commission jobs where I earned NOTHING), and 2011 is nearly over, before beginning an eight-month stretch at Chase. I have never been in an environment as cutthroat, conniving, surreptitious in organization or just flat out SHADY as that one; and I’ve worked on WALL STREET! After being laid off from Chase in May of 2012, I knew I needed to recharge before I decided to do anything else.
That period of time came and went and then the depression set in again. Every initiative that I had set out to do as a result of being laid off fell flat, because my primary income was now gone. I was THISCLOSE to going back from the absolute nadir of August 2010, where the confluence of losing employment, having a relationship abruptly end and being HOMELESS were before me.
Of course I was not going to sit idly by, or jump off the George like that coward from Rutgers did. Younger relatives are watching how I handle adversity. My parents (especially my father) reminded me constantly that there was a purpose involved and that I would be better for it in the end. I am sure it pained my parents and still does to this day, because they know as well as anyone that I have only achieved a modicum of the things that I should have done before I hit age 21. Rather than blameshift, complain “Woe is Me” or give in, I just viewed everything as a challenge and kept trudging forward.
Oh, there were tons more awful days than good ones. And depression set in at least four times in the past 5 1/2 years. Imagine having everything that a mid-20s guy would want: a fast car, money, good paying job, money on the side from other hustles, popularity, unending female adoration, etc. etc. etc. and lose it all almost LITERALLY OVERNIGHT (it was all gone within 16 months, and most of it within three months’ time). That helped solidify my perspective on money and material things for life. Broken relationships, women cheating on me galore (never have cheated on any woman I’ve been with, in case you’re wondering), leaving me when the money ran dry and the car, clothes, trips to Fleming’s and Morton’s ended, being forced out of a place of dwelling despite dire efforts to find work and a place of your own… constant themes for months and months at a time.
… and to remain sane.
All because I know that my cross will not only “per-FECT” me, but that I will be able to relate to almost anyone (had it all, been broke, been homeless, been in really exclusive places that you would have to PAY to visit or live in this city and in New Jersey, starved, had tons of food, cheated on, broken relationship, betrayed by friends, etc. You name it) and not be farcical about it. And they can tell I’m not bullshitting them when I tell them I can relate.
I hate to see people going through, but it is a fact of life; sometimes a result of decisions of our own making. Regardless, it validates my perseverance through trial when I hear of someone else’s plight and know that “I’VE BEEN THERE” and can be a sounding board for them, and provide insight and advice, if warranted. It causes me to look back and realize that it wasn’t that bad. Even if it was — in my mind — going through it all.
Trials don’t get easier, but it is somewhat less difficult to bear when this reality hits you.