The quarter century mark. Pretty crazy to think about. I have grown on this planet for 25 years; I have learned so much, accomplished some amazing things, and set myself up for some epic adventures. One might say that the first 25 years of your life is the most dynamic; You are constantly adapting as you figure yourself out and learn how to fit in to the world around you. From a young age, I have always been experimenting and exploring.
Playing with trains, riding horses, I was always wanted to try new things. As I grew up, I have learned so many things and tried many others. Through my experiences, I have defined myself. There are too many memorable memories to even count, but looking back, I have compiled some items that have helped define me. Some fun, some not, but all led me on my path to my current.
10 items that have helped define me
Find my passion
Since my early days with Windows NT, I have always found myself tinkering with computers. Computers and code is my passion, and I’m happy I found it so early in my life. Starting off with games, and currently with web applications, I can sit down and find myself playing with what others may call work. I am fortunate to find something that I love to do so much. Before, during, and after work, I find myself reading blogs, attempting programming problems, and networking with some awesome people. I consider myself pretty lucky, I have found something I truely passionate about.
Going to sleep away camp
At the age of 10, I started attending Camp Wahanowin. On the very first summer, I hoped on a plane and was taken away to the magical land on Lake Couchiching. For two months, I would have a an endless fun, discovering my favorite hobby ( Sailing ), and getting into a bit of trouble. Being on my own, I was able to do what I wanted to do. It was the most fun any summer could be.
Make a stupid impulsive purchase
When I was 16, I decided I wanted to play guitar. As a child, I played the clarinet, but was never too into it. Even with taking private lessons and being a member of the band, I just didn’t enjoy it. For some reason, I thought that I wanted to play guitar. I went out, bought a fancy guitar, an amp, and all the accessories. Thinking I was ready to go, I started playing. It lasted a week. I learned quickly that getting a nice thing doesn’t mean you’ll start learning. Now I wait at least a few weeks before doing anything impulsive. It has definitely saved me a few times.
Build a piece of furniture
This is one of the more special memories in my life. I was 14 and wanted to raise the bed in my room, making it a loft. With my Grandpa, we built the bed from scratch. We planning it all out: design the plan, cutting the wood, assembling it, and stain the whole thing. For two months, I went up to his house and built it with him. It came out great, exactly what I wanted. It was such a special experience building it with him. Not only did I enjoy the time with my Grandpa, but I learned what it takes to build a piece of furniture. Making sure it was sturdy, strong and aesthetically pleasing. Making something you want may take longer, but you will enjoy the experiance of it and the final product will be perfect.
Getting Seriously Injured and then Recovering
One day in the third grade, I was given a Chemistry set. Eager to play around with it, I rushed and broke some of the glass of the beaker. A shard of glass cut into a vein on my finger, and got lodged in body. Over the next two months, I underwent multiple surgeries and spend a good amount of my time in the hospital. I was scared, but I got good care, and was told to always stay positive. Everything eventually got fixed and healed. Now I have a big scar on my finger to remember it. Just keep calm, everything will turn out ok.
Learning how to be honest with myself and the people around you, and expressing my feelings
This has been the hardest for me. As a child, I was not exactly introverted, but I didn’t exactly share very much about myself. I was absorbed in what I did, and kept to myself. As I got older, becoming a part of the adult world, I had to learn to be honest to what I wanted, and to be honest with the people around me. I would often times do things that were best for the people around me, with the expense of myself. I wouldn’t mind, but I knew it wasn’t the best for me.
Now, I am more honest with myself and the people around me. Sharing my feelings not only made me more happy but also also my friends around me. Be honest with yourself, or you will keep pushing those bad feelings to the back of your mind. They don’t go away, and just build til it is time to deal with them. I’ve learned to address my feelings as they come up. It has been very healthy, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I’ve always had the urge to travel. To experience different cultures and far away places. After I graduated from college, I backpacked around Europe with one my great friends Greg. It was amazing. I saw many historic sites, and met so many fellow travelers. Some times, we felt a bit out of place, and other times were completely lost. It is a great feeling. To be lost in the world like that really puts a perspective on your life, and how it relates to the rest of the world. Being a part of the world is amazing, and there is no better way to feel it, that to see what is out there.
Since then, I have been going abroad as much as possible. In February, I went to Istanbul with my girlfriend, and in July we both went to Switzerland with my family. It is just such a great experience traveling to different places with the people you love. Not only does it make great memories, you will really learn a lot about each other. I hope to continue my travels and see many far away places.
Start a business
I have always had side business, and a second job. In school, I was a lifeguard, and technology consultant. In college, I attempted to start my first star-up. It failed, but it was a great learning experience. Now, I am working in a very collaborative environment at NPR, and am making a product, Changecause to change the way charities raise money through cause marketing. Making decisions that define a company and a strategy is exciting. Crafting something is special, and I highly recommend it. There is no boss, there are no deadlines, it’s just your will make a product.
Overextend and exert myself
Self admittingly, I overbook myself. There isn’t enough time in the day for all the things I want to do. Between work, hockey, sailing, life, and personal time, it hards to fit everything in. Although it gets stressful at times, I would want it any other way. All of these aspects of my life are important to me, and I make sure to fit them all in. There is no better day than now. Carpe Diem!
Getting a Sailboat
Since my days at Camp Wahanowin, I wanted to own a boat. I was very fortunate, and was given a sailboat by my former boss/coworker Nic Tunney. Everyone always says that the best days of your boat are the day you buy it and the day you sell it. I couldn’t disagree more. I have poured my heart and soul into it, and refurbished it into a great vessel. It is a life style, that is for sure. I spend most weekends of the summer out on the water, and many weekends on the shoulder months getting it ready, and packing it up. I do all this for the times I am out on the water. Cruising on the Chesapeake, with amazing friends are the best time ever.
It is truly peaceful, my zen. Knowing your "happy place" is truly priceless. Take me on my worst day, and throw me on a sailboat, and I'll be the happiest person on the planet. I am very lucky that I am able to provide myself with this luxury, and can share it with good friends.
Most of the times, life has been pretty fun, and other times it has led me to the emergency room. As I look back, I see the events of my life, and see how they sculpted me into the person I am today. Although some events were stupid, I wouldn’t change any of them. For if any one of them would change, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today. Every day, I appreciate it; I want it to be no other way. I have an amazing girlfriend who I love so much, great friends, a loving family. Through my travels at the University of Rochester, and my time in DC, I have made great friends, ones that will last forever. As Christopher McCandles said famously “Happiness is only real when shared”, and I couldn’t agree more.
Surround yourself with good people and good things will happen. Everything will fall into place ~ Unknown
I cannot wait for the next adventures in my life. There are some amazing things planned. Taking the lessons I have learned over the past 25 years, I hope to apply them and grow even more. I can only imagine where it will take me.
So here is to another awesome 1/4 century! Cheers!
PS. Excuse my grammatical errors, I am a programmer, not a novelist :P.