It’s been 3 years since my wife and I got divorced. Funny how that much time has passed. Funny to think what we could’ve changed to make it work.
A lot of things for sure.
But, then again, it was probably the right decision. We were both unhappy.
Why stay in something that you are “lukewarm” about, at best?
But that’s what we do as humans. We sort of just settle in for what feels comfortable. We do whatever we can to hold the walls up around us in order to eliminate the abrupt pain of it all caving in at once.
We fail to recognize that having the walls cave in can allow us to rebuild a stronger foundation from the ground up. We can create a more solid structure that is long-lasting.
It doesn’t mean we have to run from every bad situation but it could mean that we have to take a hard look inward on why this is happening in the first place.
What have we done to get here? What have we done to cause this situation? What has been out of our control? How can we change for the better?
Change is really hard. I remember the time between getting “separated” and then actually leaving the house we built together. Those 5 weeks transitioning to leave the house and officially, by legal standards, become separated were brutal.
I cried a lot.
I was heartbroken.
I was depressed.
I was sad.
But then, I wasn’t.
Sure, I can be sad that we weren’t madly in love like many years prior. I can be sad that our son has to be a part of a co-parenting situation. I can be sad that the happy moments we had together would be clouded by this decision we made.
But that’s all a matter of perspective. I had the choice to be happy or sad.
So I chose to be happy.
Everything ends at some point. That’s the rub of life. It all eventually ends. Our situation ended just a bit more abruptly than originally planned. Our story just took a different direction down the wandering path.
But, I’m happy I had those moments with her. I was madly in love, and I know she was, too.
I’m happy my son gets to spend time with each of us individually and grow a stronger bond. He gets to grow up going through some shit. That’s only going to make him more resilient.
I’m happy with all those moments of happiness, laughter, and fun we had together. We had some great times. But I’m also happy for the less-than-desirable moments, too. Because, as I reflect, it’s made me grow as a person and be a better version of myself. Unfortunately, sometimes we have to go through hard times to figure that stuff out.
Life is never easy but if I’ve learned anything it’s that negativity and pessimism almost get you nowhere. I’m sure someone can tell me there is some utility to it but not much that I’ve seen.
If we can take every situation, no matter how dire, and work our way to see the sunshine and rainbows then we have a much better chance of finding the happiness inside ourselves and using that as fuel to power us forward.
It’s hard to get there when we think the world is always giving us a bad hand to play.
Once we accept that we may not have played the hand correctly then it can make it much easier to respect the outcome and move on.
It doesn’t mean we forget about the past as those moments and experiences helped define who we are, good or bad. But it gives us the opportunity to use those moments and learn from them.
We have the opportunity to start anew. Not from square one but from much farther ahead because of the wealth of knowledge we’ve gained through all of it.
Be open to change. Be receptive to it. Embrace it.
I wasn’t able to attend our 20-year high school reunion this past weekend but as I sat and reflected on the last 20 years I was inclined to write some things down. Things I wish I wrote a long time ago.
Here are a few observations, and hopefully, we can use these ourselves, pass them down to our kids, or maybe the class of 2021/22 can gain insight into areas that were unknown to us at the time.
Taking action is the key ingredient to achieving anything. Worrying is useless. Nothing good happens when you worry. Creating action and doing things is what moves the needle. You don’t know until you know. Don’t conjure up reasons why you can’t do something. Go out and try and see what happens. You don’t fail, you learn. And then you move forward. Progress can only happen through action.
Grades don’t matter. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to get “good grades” but you shouldn’t hinge your entire adult life on how many A’s you received. Grades are generally about memorization for tests, life is about your experiences, adventures, character, community, and courage. Those things matter more than any grade could ever give you.
High school doesn’t have to be your best time. It’s a short season in the grand scheme of your life. It can be awkward and lonely. It can be hard. But, it’s your choice on how you want to spend it. Will you educate yourself with new ideas, learn a new skill, or practice something you enjoy or will you binge every Netflix series, watch TikTok videos for hours, or sit around making excuses for why you can’t do it? When you realize it’s your choice, the game changes.
Create lasting friendships. Understand why you are friends with certain people and why they are friends with you. Find your “tribe” that has similar values and is willing to challenge you to be the best version of yourself. It’s not about popularity or getting invited to the best parties. It’s about having deep, meaningful relationships with people who support you. You’ll need those friendships when life gets hard.
You can create anything you want. Despite what we were taught, you don’t have to go to college, get an entry-level job, and work your way up. You don’t have to live for retirement before you can enjoy your life. You don’t have to do any of it. Carve your own path, find what makes you happy and gives you purpose, and then explore how you live a life around that. That’s where a great life begins.
Reflecting back, 20 years appeared as it evaporated like that. Where did the time go, we are asking ourselves? It seemed like just yesterday we were walking through the halls, going to football games, and messing around, thinking we had it all in front of us. A lifetime ahead of us that we could do whatever we wanted with.
And in a flash, 20 years have passed.
There’s been tragedy and triumph, highs and lows, and many more lucky breaks than we can count.
But we’re here. Wherever we are. We are here.
Whatever has happened is in the past. Those are decisions we’ve made, good or bad. Those are opportunities we’ve pursued or missed. Those are tragedies averted or endured.
But we are still here.
So now we have a choice. We have a choice, today, to decide if we are happy or not. We have a choice to make changes in our lives to pursue happiness each and every day.
We have to believe we have a choice.
That’s the first step. There’s no more complaining. There are no more pointing fingers. There are no more excuses. Now is the time to act.
What if we knew that high school, although 20 years ago, was just the end of the first quarter. Well, then that means we are just at halftime.
It means we can change. If the playbook didn’t work, then throw it out. Start fresh and create something new and different than you ever thought possible. You can create the life you’ve always wanted, even if the first half didn’t go as planned.
Get in the locker room. Regroup. Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, “Why can’t it be you?” Why can’t you become happier than you ever imagined?
The only way this time is different is if you put in the work. The grind. Make the tough choices. The knowledge that you’ve gained over the years is that it’s not going to be easier. In fact, it might be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done, to commit to the change.
But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.
You’re worth it.
So let’s start the 2nd half off strong. When you get tired, feel defeated, or start to panic, go back and read #1 above. Progress is only created through action. Sometimes taking action is hard because it is against the grain of what others around you are doing.
But this isn’t about them.
It’s about you.
It’s about what makes you happy.
Are you ready to take the field and fight for every inch of your happiness?
The clock is starting on the 2nd half and the ball is now in your hands.
What’s the first play you are calling?
A Message To The Class of 2001, 20-Years In The MakingBrian Ondrako2021-11-28T21:58:18-04:00
Entitlement: the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment
It’s hard to argue that we have it worse than generations before us. That’d be a stretch.
We have access to great medicine, food, instant connection, world travel, etc. The list is endless.
Just because we might have these opportunities doesn’t mean we should forget the simple things that matter; Kindness, Compassion, Gratitude, Humility, Empathy, Patience, etc.
Entitlement should not be on that list. We’ve seen a spike in this more recently and it stems from us forgetting where we came from and the people, opportunities, and luck that has entered our lives and made them better than generations past.
With access to knowledge almost instantly also comes the power to ignore it and have a bias that our way of doing things is not only right but justified. That we are somehow more special than the people around us. This thinking can lead us to judge others negatively and put ourselves on a pedestal. Our ego can get the best of us.
As much as we all come from different backgrounds and upbringings, we are the same at our core. We are all trying to make sense of this vast world and figure out how we are going to make our dent in it one way or another.
Has anyone else ever had a needle stuck in their eye?
Weird question, I know. But there’s a point, I promise.
I had a corneal transplant when I was 21 years old that went very well and I was healing fine until one morning 6-weeks later I woke up and had a hard time seeing out of that eye. I went to class and still had trouble. I immediately called my surgeon and went into his office. Apparently, I rubbed my eye too hard during the night and 30% of the stitches in the healing cornea came out. I needed surgery again.
Being a bit stubborn, I didn’t want to wait for a day or two to get into surgery and asked if it was possible to get it done now, in his office. I wish I hadn’t asked.
It turns out it was possible. I was given a couple of Advil and told to lie down on a table in one of his office rooms. What ensued turned out to be the most pain I’ve ever felt in my life.
I was awake, barely, if at all, sedated from the Advil, and watching my surgeon stitch my cornea back to my eye. Yes, you read that right. I literally could feel the sharp pain of needles in my eye and realizing I cannot move an inch or something really bad could happen.
As an aside, I give tremendous credit to the surgeon. How someone could have that steady of hands I’ll never understand. But I digress…
I reminded myself of this today on a run where I set a goal of 4-miles while wearing my 20-LB Weighted Vest. First, I hate running. Second, I never have run more than 2 consecutive miles wearing the vest.
So why does this all matter?
It matters because as I was hitting the 2-mile mark I could feel the fatigue in my legs set in (I had just done 200 Air Squats with the vest the prior day) so that was starting to take a toll on me and my feet were starting to cramp a bit. I had every right to stop and pat myself on the back and feel good that I accomplished a PR by surpassing the 2-miles.
But then I remembered the eye surgery and I remembered the pain tolerance I had built up through that whole event. Oh, I forgot to finish the story. After he completed it and it went well, I had to go back 5 hours later at midnight to his office because my eye pressure had risen to a level I can’t explain. I couldn’t even think straight and was puking, that’s how bad it got. If anyone has ever dealt with immense eye pressure you know what I am talking about.
I remembered I had relished taking pain and not having it bother me and using that as a badge of honor to push me through things.
This run was no different. I had to go deep down to help get me over that “pain wall” that I had put up in my head. The one that says it’s too painful, too rough, too hard to keep going. I had to find a way to overcome it and fight it.
My solution is creating a distraction. I distract my mind and divert the attention away from the pain to something else for just a minute until it passes. And then I thought about writing this article and how much the story would suck if I didn’t finish the 4-miles. See, I think the internal motivators are needed as well and I used them strategically when I need that kick of energy.
We all have a “pain wall”. Everyone is different and nobody can compare theirs to someone elses.
Do you break down that wall or stop at it every time you approach it?
Nobody can answer that but you and the only encouragement I can give is that deep down there is so much more pain tolerance we all have and just need to give ourselves that excuse or permission to pull it out. Use whatever method you like or try mine from above but I hope next time you encounter your wall you’ll be able to break right through it and form a new vision in your mind of what pain you can manage and overcome.