Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year, New Me

It's that time again. The new year, and a new decade, loom ominously on the horizon. Looking back on the Aughts, I can think of a lot of things I should have and could have done better. But it was not all for naught, as I have accomplished many things that your average bear probably hasn't even dreamt up in his hibernation. But enough about the great things I've done, what is more important is the great things I have yet to do.

I've always said, somewhat jokingly but secretly seriously, that my purpose in life is to be remembered. I want to leave my mark on the world. I know I have a niche somewhere, but I am still searching for it. One day, however, I will find a way to leave this mark. Whether there is a building named after me, a street, a foundation, or a small blurb in a history book, I want my life to mean something long after I'm gone. And I want it to mean something to people who never met me and who were not related to me.

How am I going to do that, you ask? I wish I knew. But that is the point of ambition: you pick a goal, and you work hard, and you hit forks in the road, you climb obstacles, but you keep moving, you choose your paths, and eventually you reach your destination, a little battered, a little worn, but extremely accomplished and proud, with a list of achievements in your foot prints.

So as this decade comes to a close, I find myself way behind on my path. I envisioned myself doing much more at this point in my life. So this decade is a new beginning. I have a laundry list of goals, many of which I probably won't meet. But what I want to change about myself is the effort I put towards them. Anyone who knows me as more than a casual acquaintance knows that my life has more or less fallen together despite my lack of involvement in it. It has always been my way to put more effort in to putting less effort, when I should be putting that effort in to actually doing things the right way. But as I get older, I realize I'm only cheating myself. No one else really cares what I learn in class, what sense of accomplishment I feel on the inside. What people want from me is results. It's what we want from all of the company we keep. It's not the nature of people to want to be dragged down by those around them. We want to be achievers, and we want to surround ourselves with people of like minds. I've hidden my underachieving self deep beneath a calm, cool, and collected illusion of who I really want to be.

This year, I become a go-getter.

Gone are the days of taking short cuts and cutting corners.

Here are the days of motivation, aspiration, ambition, and achievement.

I wish you all the best in all of your endeavors, and I encourage you to check in on mine. Hold me to my word. A life like the one I want for myself cannot exist without the support of everyone around me.

So Happy New Year to all, and I look forward to walking down the right path with each of you by my side.

And now, for the fun part, a look back at a decade to remember. Some people weren't around for many of these experiences, but that doesn't matter. In staggered chronological order, the highs and lows of the Aughts, with some purposefully excluded for the sake of myself and others:

It was 2001, and high school graduation seemed like the biggest day of my life. A distant memory, the Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro was packed with a raucous Annapolis High crowd. Three months later, and my new home in Blacksburg, Virginia comes calling. Pritchard Hall, and what would turn out to be "The Worst Roommate Ever." This kid was a nightmare: a cultural abomination, he was born to Koreans, adopted by Jews, educated in the ghetto, and associated with the upper middle class whites. His lack of identity made him stranger than fiction, and his quirks alienated him from the rest of our hall. That, and he made weird noises and stared at me through a conveniently placed mirror while I laid in bed.

Virginia Tech gets credit for my identity. I was an awkward high school kid who never really fit in to any group, but I had plenty of friends. I was athletic, but not a star. I was shy with some kids and a social leader with others. I didn't have a clique, and I was never satisfied with what I was doing. I was smart, but shockingly lazy, which embittered the dumb, hard-working kids and frustrated the smart, hard-working kids. All the while I found myself somewhere in between those genres of people, never sure with whom I belonged. But college was a new beginning and a fresh start. I made friends quickly. I was around people of similar minds, similar intelligence, similar work ethic. I had people to play sports with, people to study with, people to socialize with, others to play video games with. It was a perfect storm of all of my strangely unrelated interests.

And then I joined a fraternity. This opened up the doors. I was on MTV for a show that featured colleges across America (I Bet You Will..., created by Morgan Spurlock of Super-Size Me fame). And then we took the fraternity to new levels. We got it an official house. We established a reputation on campus. I started a charity event that now occurs every year and raises thousands of dollars for various organizations. I found a cultural identity that was missing in the religiously non-diverse schools I had attended in Annapolis, and I quickly decided it was not for me. I got my first job interning with the athletic department. I became a ridiculously passionate VT football and basketball fan. It was my first passion, and it will probably cut years off of my life.

As college drew closer to an end, I made friends that have lasted through the years, and who I expect will still be around until the day I die. I learned to keep in touch with people a little bit better (thank you, Facebook). I moved in to my own house for the first time with a couple other guys. Windswept, on Pheasant Run Ct., will never be forgotten. It is still the greatest estate in AEPi history.

Senior year was a blur. We traveled to all the away football games. And then graduation hit, and I was lost. I had a degree with no direction. I slipped in to the black hole that is the restaurant industry (though I do thank Liz for getting me the job, as I needed an income). I made more friends, but fell further and further from anything resembling pride and self-respect. I knew this was not the place for me.

I started writing sports for the newspaper - another in a long list of accomplishments that fell in to my lap. I worked hard and impressed my bosses, but never gave it the commitment it deserved. It didn't pay well enough to quit the restaurant job. Then Jay comes calling and offers me my first break. Again, a job that didn't require an interview. This is the 6th job of my life now, and still no official interviews. DVSport, Inc. was a great gig. Lots of travel, lots of sports, and a good amount of money. I lived in college football. It was stressful being gone all the time, but I loved what I was doing. I eventually got fed up with upper management, though, and decided my time was coming to an end.

Changes needed to be made. So on a whim, I chose law school and the LSATs. With little effort, I managed to score quite high and began applying to schools all over the country. Unfortunately, my laziness during college held my GPA a bit lower than law school likes, and my LSAT score alone could not get me in to my first choice schools.

It was back to another restaurant in the meantime, where once again I got in with a connection and had to do almost nothing to earn the employment. Money was great there, and I maintained my stint with the newspaper. Law school acceptances and rejections came pouring in, and Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law became my new home.

It was another fresh start where I could begin anew. This trend is one that I enjoy, as I get tired of the same thing all the time. I easily slip in to routine ruts.

So here we are, half way through law school. I have quickly risen to the top of a a few student organizations and am leaving my mark there. My goals, if accomplished, will improve the law program at ASU for years and years to come.

This is the decade, in brief, that has passed. I hope to be able to include much, much more in the decade to come. Someone's first job is to name this one. The Tens? The Teens? Both are boring. Find me a catchy name and I'll celebrate it.