It finally arrived.
December 16th, 2016.
Rupp Arena; Lexington, Kentucky.
My graduation ceremony to get my Bachelors of Science in Dietetics at the University of Kentucky was here.
As I’m patiently chillin' in a single-file line, waiting for my name to be announced over the loud speaker - my heart beating through my chest, palms sweaty, knees weak, and my arms are heavy (luckily, there was no vomit on my sweater) - I realized what was actually about to take place:
I’m fucking graduating college.
I wanted to seize this moment of walking across the stage so I could remember it for the rest of my life.
So, I did what anyone would do under the age of 40 in 2016 when they’re trying to remember a moment in time.
I took a selfie.
Here’s another view from my parent’s seats.
It was all over.
All the late nights (and early mornings) of studying in the overpopulated Willy T. Library;
The amazing instant gratification and “I deserve this” moments of eating terrible fast food from Raising Canes or Cookout after the studying came to an end;
All the occasional disappointments of studying really hard and sacrificing everything (the night before) only to be rewarded with a mediocre grade (at best) and then being more upset that I sacrificed so much fun stuff in order to stay in and study, but it didn’t matter anyway because I shit the bed when I got the test…
To say the very least, it was a bittersweet moment.
But, once the bittersweet moment and the hugging and crying and congratulating had came to an end, a new moment of sheer terror arrived and swiftly drop kicked the bittersweet moment right in the face.
It was as if a tsunami of reality came crashing down and the dream-like whirlwind of a fantasy, called “college”, had ended and now I have to face the overwhelming concept these older humans called “adulthood”.
Now, let’s take a step back real quick and let me quickly explain why I may have been a little more terrified than some.
I wanted to be an entrepreneur.
Well, I guess, I am an entrepreneur.
I understand this term gets thrown around very loosely and there’s a few different definitions of what this actually means (I promise “CEO” is nowhere to be found in my Instagram bio), but I signed for my LLC on March 18th, 2016 to officially start my own online fitness and nutritional coaching service under the name: McLeod Consulting Services, LLC.
Sooo, ya know, this is cool and all to say I want to do all this shit and be a big boy and run my own business, yada, yada, yada.
However, this is where my fear really sets in because college gave me a crutch.
It gave me an excuse.
As Steven Pressfield would say in his book, Turning Pro: college gave me a “payoff of incapacity” towards my business.
What this meant was that during the school year I didn’t have to give my business 100% attention because the little voice in the back of my mind, what Pressfield calls “Resistance”, justified it to myself that I had college to worry about instead of trying to advance my business.
I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about when compared to scenarios in your own life:
“Well, I would do this, but I really have to get this other thing done first.” - this often leads to neither getting done due to paralysis by analysis and meddling in other important priorities, such as Snapchat or Instagram.
“It’s just not the right time to start [insert something you love doing] yet because I just have so many other things to worry about.” - when is this magical “right time” actually going to come? Something will ALWAYS be going on if you keep making up excuses in your head.
“I can’t get to the gym! I just don’t have any time.” - you know damn well, if you honestly audit every minute of your day, you can cut out 1 hour of watching Netflix or surfing on your phone to make time for some type of physical activity at least 3 times per week.
“Well, I can’t study when I have a messy room. My mental space just feels cluttered.” - I use this one all the time. Better waste 2 hours cleaning my room more thoroughly than Consuela from Family Guy.
My main point is that I have to stop bullshitting myself.
My time is here and I have no excuse not to give it my all.
According to Pressfield, this is my opportunity to act upon my ambitions and scale from being an “amateur” to “turning pro”.
He says in Turning Pro,
“Ambition, I have come to believe, is the most primal and sacred fundament of our being. To feel ambition and to act upon it is to embrace the unique calling of our souls. Not to act upon that ambition is to turn our backs on ourselves and on the reason for our existence. The amateur fears that if he turns pro and lives out his calling, he will have to live up to what he is truly capable of.”
This is why I’m scared as hell.
I’m on my own.
Make no mistake, I’m blessed to have friends and family who have supported me up to this point, but they’re not going to do the work for me.
They aren’t going to be giving me “‘atta boy’s” or “I’m so proud of you for doing what you love” if I’m not producing results in 5 years.
It’s easy for me to do well right now, when everything is just getting started. I have friends and family hitting me up to help them out with their diet and exercise, but what happens when all of these people from the “honeymoon” stage of my business comes to an end?
What happens when a recession hits (because it’s coming, eventually) and all of these people hitting me up to work together slowly start to dwindle away because they have their own shit to worry about?
Nobody gives a fuck about me and my success. Just like nobody gives a fuck about yours.
People are out here just trying to survive day-to-day and I want them to sign up for my newsletter so I can eventually get my at-bat to possibly work with them?
Hell no, dude, that’s just not going to happen.
There is no alternative for me besides succeeding.
My back is against the wall and the only option I have is to scratch and claw for every single fucking micro-success I will *hopefully* receive in the future.
The other alternative is “death”.
This isn’t a physical death of me not being able to pay rent or pay for food or anything like that, but this is death of what I believe in my mind is my purpose, my calling, my passion, whatever the hell you want to call it.
I know many of you may not be thinking of it like this, but I do.
The thing is, if I “die”, at least I’ll know I gave it my all to something.
This is why I’m so hard on myself (cliche as hell, but true).
I can whine and complain and bitch to everyone else why the fitness industry is “broken”, or the government and the president is “broken”, and “life’s not fair” - BUT - this still isn’t going to change a damn thing about my current situation.
I am 100% in charge of my life, just like you are.
Being surrounded by the college environment has always given me deep insights on the psychology of people my age (and also being a fellow 23 year old helps).
The irony of this environment is that the main reason for going to college, typically, is to be able to get a stable job or set yourself up for a successful future; yet, one of the things most laughed at and mocked are those people who are "try-hards". Those who sacrifice many social activities to study and/or work instead. Those who don't get fucked up every weekend or who don't do "normal" college kid activities.
It's almost as if you have to act like you don't care TOO much, but you're also trying to do your best and secretly care a lot because that's what will likely determine your success in the future.
I hate to come across as bitchy here and I'm not writing this atop a pedestal to say which is right and which is wrong, because I promise I've been on both sides, but I'd like to open up the question of when is the time to give it your all?
When is it going to be time to give it 100% in life?
What exactly are we waiting for to give our absolute all to something in life?
Our career, our relationships, our passions, etc., like, is there something we should be waiting for? A certain sign?
This whole post has just been me thinking aloud here, but I think the mindset of many is just so certain that their "success" is just going to fall in their lap because they have a college degree. I think that will happen to a select few via sheer luck or connections or whatever, but I think that's a very high gamble to make if you don’t have this luxury.
Instead of going on the "defense" and just trying to accept whatever is thrown at you career-wise after college, or even if you’re 46 and you’re doing shit you hate every day; I think the time is now, to go on the "offense".
Go out and take the shit you want because every other alternative just doesn't seem worth the risk.
And if you haven’t received this “fear” yet that I’m talking about, it will come, whether you’re 18 or 36 or you’re lying on your deathbed filled with regret:
What are you going to do when that fear comes?
Are you going to remain an "amateur" and keep making excuses for yourself?
Or are you going to "turn pro" and embrace that fear right in the fucking mouth?
To me, the latter sounds way more fun.
Happy graduation, everyone. ;)
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