Yesterday I got a mysterious call from an Inglewood, CA, phone number. I found it strange as I don’t really know anyone that well in the L.A. area. The woman on the other line was a casting agent for the reality TV show, on the Discovery Channel, called Naked and Afraid. A few days earlier a friend of mine, thinking that screen-work may be a good fit for my future, gave me an email address to follow-up with regarding a potential lead on the casting for a new season of N&A. Causally, not thinking anything of it, I sent an email stating who I was and that I’d have an interest in learning more about the opportunity. Then I get this phone call out of nowhere and had my first casting agency interview. It was a total trip! If the producer likes what he sees from my initial interview then I get to take the next step in the interview process and get into more detail of me and my story, as well as what being on the show actually entails. I have no expectations of any sort with all of this. Honestly, it was just flattering to get the initial call! We’ll see, if I don’t hear from them in a few days then I know they’ve moved on.
As we draw nearer to the new year I find myself in a reflective state. For better or for worse, I can never seem to avoid this eminent truth. As I’ve mentioned before, 2017 has been a hard year for me and I am more than ready to keep pushing on to leave all of the crap that happened behind me. However, as I think back, many of the blows were rooted in certain expectations that I carried for myself, expectations that I owned as a portion of my identity. I’m almost able to say, in an honest sense, that I am appreciative of the opportunities that I was granted over the past year to learn from my mistakes. But honestly? Yeah, I’m still a little pissed off. Yet, I find myself playing the role of the victim less and less.
At first glance, ambiguity has been a word that hasn’t meant much to me in the past. In fact, the way I’ve lived over the years has been driven solely by concrete goals, athletically and financially. I had expectations for everything! And when I didn’t achieve those goals or expectations I beat the hell out of myself. 2017 was rife with physical injury, most notably a semi-torn achilles, a broken thyroid/low testosterone, severe depression, and a bad bout with overtraining syndrome (OTS). Overall, the running/athletic goals that I set for myself this year did not come to pass. At many points I believed, on paper, that I had failed. From a financial standpoint it wasn’t much better. It got so bad that there was even a time this year that I wanted to quit everything: running, my business, my book, and being a dreamer pursuing his passions. So yeah, those thoughts of “failure” still linger. However, I am slowly beginning to let go. Enter uncertainty…
As I sit here today I am faced with an abundant level of uncertainty. First of all, in the next few months I am moving to a town, Flagstaff, AZ, where I barely know anyone other than a few great folks in the running community along with some others that I met during my trip this fall. I’m terrified! Financially, I’m scrambling a bit but know that I have the skill and wherewithal to make shit happen. Next, I have a book coming out…who knows what’s going to happen with that. And my running goals? Honestly, the biggest obstacle to achieving those is to simply, stay healthy! That’s on me. All of it is on me. Add in the possibility of a reality TV show (I bring this up in a bit of a joking manner)? WTF!
A mental shift has happened over the last month that has had a profound affect on the way that I process information. Through the work I’ve done in therapy, among other certain avenues, I have become more and more keen to the idea of surviving and thriving in uncertainty. Rather than completely obsess about not knowing what’s going to happen I am beginning to see uncertainty as opportunity. I can’t tell you when, exactly, this shift happened, but it did, and I am grateful. Sure, I’ve got to figure how the hell I’m going to move all of my shit to another state, along with my cat, which stresses me out to a degree. However, I know that once I get there things WILL settle down…it’s just a matter of taking action and moving the process along. A quote that I recently heard gives me added hope: “If you follow your heart and your passion the universe will conspire to help you in one way or another.”
With that in mind, along with further investigation, perhaps I have seen success when faced with the unknown.
In thinking about my attempt with sobriety I am reminded that at one poignant point in my life all I had left was uncertainty. On February 11th, 2014, (the day I got sober) I had no clue what was going to happen with me. Dialing life back to one day at a time seemed like a monstrous undertaking. Early in sobriety it was a matter of literally not taking a drink each day. In time, those challenges became much deeper and harder to face as I began to slowly peel away the layers of the onion. So far, the process is working as it has been almost 4 years since the last time I had a drink! So, perhaps, this is evidence that I have embraced uncertainty to a degree. I’ll take it.
Furthermore, I was engaged to be married at one point in my life. The year was 2007 and everything was laid out for me. All of the expectations that I had for myself were coming true: a soon-to-be wife, a house, the cars, the fancy six-figure salary, everything that I thought I wanted out of life was becoming reality. Then, for countless reasons, it all blew up in my face. At that point I was so transfixed on living a certain lifestyle that I completely lost sight of the things that really mattered to me, most notably fitness and health. Within a matter of months all of the hard work that I did to create this perfect reality brought me to my knees, literally. I lost everything financially and emotionally. But after a while, I landed back on my feet because I chose to embrace the unknown…maybe it has been in my gut all along that uncertainty has led to great things!
Even as I look back to my high school years at Burke Mountain Academy, among the most terrifying period of my life emotionally, I somehow pushed through the adversity that I created for myself to come out stronger on the other side. Detailed in my book, Appetite for Addiction, the Burke years played witness to ambiguity in the purest sense of the word. Every single day, especially early on at Burke, I was literally terrified to show up amongst my peers, not knowing how they would react to me and my overly-shy and introverted self. But, things played out as they did and ultimately the years at Burke set the stage for a more enjoyable and terror-less period of life that was to follow at St. Lawrence University. Just writing these examples of my past ability to push through ambiguity reinforces for me, that today, maybe I don’t need to be afraid of the unknown. My history only goes to show that I’ve actually been effective in those situations.
Whatever happens in 2018 will be a miracle. Hell, the fact I’m even alive and that I’ve stayed sober for this long is a miracle in and of itself. And writing a book? Huh? I never thought that would happen. Hell, I barely passed my writing courses at St. Lawrence! Moving forward I feel as though I just might have the pieces in place to continue to thrive in ambiguity. It’s just a matter of drawing on those past experiences and engaging these effective character traits. The tools I have picked up to help me through the process have certainly been heavy, but the more vulnerable and honest I get the better those tools seem to work. So, in a sense, maybe 2017 has been a good year, as this was the year that I truly began to learn from my mistakes and shortcomings. Only time will tell I suppose. With 2018 being full of interesting things to come I’m here to say: Bring that shit on!