This picture of me was taken shortly before my father was electrocuted. It was a time of financial growth for our family thanks to the hard work my father had done to grow his business.
After his life-altering injury, money was hard to come by. He lived, but was never the same.
My parents sold off about everything of value to pay medical expenses. Insurance companies seemingly find loopholes to not pay…
I was there when he was injured. It chokes me up to this day. If there is a positive from it, the events that day were the very reasons I wanted to become a paramedic.
So, what would the 47 year old me, say to the scared, 13 year old me… if I could?
I would tell the 13 y/o me:
It’s OK to be scared. You are actually braver and smarter than you think you are.
There are going to be some very tough times ahead. You will get through them. You will have a few scars. Don’t be ashamed of them. You earned them.
Popularity can be a gift, a curse, or both.
Everything changes. When you graduate from high school, people don’t really care what name brand your clothes are. Some that were popular for their looks, don’t age as well as they hoped. Not every jock stays in shape.
On the subject of high school… Wrestle. You will spend your life training in martial arts. Wrestling in high school will make your journey in BJJ even more fulfilling.
Go to college first. Then get married and then have children… in that order. It has been brutal having them out of order.
Listen. Take time to actively listen. You will learn so much about others, and yourself, if you actually listen to what is said, and how it is said. Context is everything.
Take a moment every now and again to pause. Take that pause, that moment in time to just find something to be thankful for. You will wake up one morning and realize 34 years have passed, and it was all in an instant.
Work to live, not live to work. Being a paramedic and a police officer should be a part of your life, not your life.
When the time comes to choose an overtime shift or ten, in order to buy your own kids that special gift.. Take the time off. It’s your time spent with them that will mean more to them than any gift purchased.
You will earn the respect of your peers by being yourself.
Don’t subscribe to the fake it ’til you make it mentality. They are too smart. They will know when you don’t know.
Relationships. You will have crushes, infatuations, dates, and weddings. What looks like love may not be. Love, true love is unconditional. It either is or it isn’t love. There is no in-between. You will find it, when and where you never thought you would.
You are average. In some recent soul searching, trying to figure out why so many buy into what I do now… it is because I was never a world champion of anything. I was not a part of an elite military group. I was not the star athlete in school, and I am certainly no male model. It is because I’m average, it forces the majority (those that are average) to admit to themselves they too can do whatever it is I do. Being Average is what the people buy into.
Most importantly, don’t be so hard on yourself. There are going to be plenty of folks to do plenty of that.