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Honest Reflection

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I'm sorry if this is too personal of a story for some, but I thought I'd post a recent reflection here as it may resonate for others who have fallen victim to their own entitlement / lack of commitment like I have.

Stemming from the thread where I disclosed my recent self-created hardships with employment, I've had time to reflect on the path that got me to where I am; indebted, jobless, and fearful - the embodiment of the sidewalk. Rather than continue to dwell on the negatives, I have taken an objective and painfully honest look at what caused this situation (thankful to those who gave me honest feedback on the other thread for inspiring me to do a deep dive).

Thinking about my own history, I grew up in poverty in a run-down area of upstate New York (there is no shortage of run down areas in upstate NY, haha). I grew up as a gritty, determined athlete and hustler. As a teen I delivered paper routes in frigid winters, shoveled driveways, did landscaping during the summer when school was out, and pretty much anything else to make a few bucks since my folks were tied up in drugs and crime, and didn't really have any time or support to offer me. I was by and large self-sufficient. Thanks to the attention of selfless coaches in football, wrestling, and track and field, I was fortunate enough to isolate my focus on sports, and ended up going to college for division 1 track and field. You would not have met a more steely determined college athlete than myself. Despite not making the conference squad my freshman year, I took it as a personal responsibility to grow my ability in the sport and continuously improve my strength, even when it was off-season and my teammates were elsewhere. My senior year I got 11th in the country in my event, and missed Olympic trials by three positions. To those who have never competed in a sport at this level, this sounds like something to celebrate - after all, getting that close to Olympic development standards is beyond what most people aspire too. But I can tell you, when you internalize a goal for a decade and come up inches short of it, it's more than a crushing defeat. It is as if you have invalidated your own identity - you have failed to realize what you envisioned yourself to be, and let down everyone who had supported your journey.

I think I've allowed that failure to define my identity to this day. From that time on I have had a hard time committing to and finishing anything. I paid thousands to do a masters, only to not finish my research and not receive the degree. I spent three years toiling in management consulting and becoming knowledgeable in business only to mess it up from a bad decision. I have dated numerous women, only to find it too difficult to remain in a relationship at the first sign of conflict. It's as if I fear going too far and investing too much time only to come up short once more.

Now that I've had time to think, I'm learning that the problem isn't in my career strategy or my selection of business ideas - those grow on trees when you have the right perspective. It is in my unwillingness to commit to things long-term. I was more invested in and committed to the process needed to reach success as an adolescent than I am now. If I had the same gritty, stubbornness that allowed me to progress so far as an athlete and overcome poverty right now I'd probably be where I want to be, or close to it. But that pivotal event of coming up short has marred my confidence. I see myself as an inferior person, at the very core of who I am.

After writing all this, I'm not sure what value it offers to the forum at large. But I do know there are people like me who have been shot out of the sky after getting so close to something that defined who they were. I think for a lot of people it takes this level of analysis to really get into what's causing problems. This goes beyond a lack of know how or a lack of resources. This is a detrimental psychological configuration that needs to be rectified. I'm curious how those people find themselves again. Chances are I'll end up speaking with a psychologist, once I can afford it. But it feels good just for someone else out in the world to hear my thoughts, even through anonymity.

- Cheers

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