Learning From Adversity
Exactly one year ago was the lowest point of my life. In December of 2011, I fell off a balcony and shattered my right elbow. On January 19th 2012, my car broke down and the cost of repair was too high in relation to the value of my car. Three days later, January 22nd, was the first NFC championship game for me as a grown Forty Niner fan. Despite some recent bad luck, I was really excited for that game. But at the house I was supposed to watch the game, a 130 pound dog bit me in the face, so instead I got to listen to my team lose from the emergency room as a doctor stitched up my face.
The following weeks were a mental battle for me. I would lay in bed and think about my tiny, atrophied arm, knowing I faced an uphill battle of physical therapy and uncertainty about whether I could comfortably throw a baseball to my kid one day. As for a vehicle, my Grandma stepped up and gave me her second car, which I desperately needed. I couldn’t help but feel guilty because she loved that car; all I could do was try my best to make payments to her and hope she would understand how grateful I was. My face was swollen and crusty… maybe some scar creams and sun covers would prevent the scars from looking too bad one day. On top of the physical trials, I was enrolled in community college when I didn’t want to be there anymore. Negative thoughts would temporarily consume me. My dad told me I, “…needed to do some soul searching.” So I gave that a shot.
It was easy to sit there and feel bad for myself, to feel unlucky and continue to keep my head down. I wasn’t used to feeling “down” and I didn’t intend to stay like that for long. My situation needed perspective.
On one hand, a broken elbow sucks. But on the other, I was lucky I didn’t crack my head open from the fall (backwards off a second story balcony onto the stone patio). The fact that I wasn’t a vegetable was something I should celebrate! I had friends right there that bailed on their party to spend a friday night in the ER with me. I am lucky.
My grandma didn’t bat an eye when she heard about my car situation and the dog bite. She knew I needed help and had a nice car she could part with. Family is a net that keeps you from falling too hard, and that’s exactly what she did for me. I am lucky.
I grew up on a zoo… almost. My childhood was filled with the most random assortment of animals, from horses, pigs, and goats, to ferrets, snakes, chinchillas, and turtles. I’ve had a love for animals my entire life and have done my best to be friendly towards every animal I encounter. I got too close to a big dog that I was unfamiliar with and scared him. He snapped and got me, but it could have been much worse. He could have killed me, ripped out an eye, or taken off one of my cheeks. In the end, my scars are in pretty cool locations (makes me look tougher). They will fade. I am lucky.
In life and business there are ups and downs. To be a happy person or a good businessman you need to look for positivity in negative circumstances. Some people call it “falling up”… I just think of it as looking for perspective.
It’s amazing just how much can change in one year. I decided to put my education on hold and put more effort into learning web development and entrepreneurship. I am working on a startup doing things I love, and it is affording me a trip to Santiago, Chile. My elbow and face have both healed very well. I met someone really special who encourages me, motivates me, and makes me really happy. My family and friends continue to pour on their support. And this year, my Niners are playing for more than an NFC championship. Last year felt tough but I know I am lucky.