Just like ignoring the impact that Henley's fight against cancer and her death had on me, I experienced a great deal of stress, anxiety, and anger early on in my career stemming from the very decision to become a chiropractor. I have navigated my way through and am in a much better place as I eluded to in my last post, but there was a point I was sure I was entering the wrong profession. What I have realized is that suppressing that anger and distress didn't allow me to properly move on. On an almost daily basis I still get moments of regret and anger in regards my decision to become a chiropractor despite having already found purpose within it. It isn't a reflection of the way I feel about my current situation, but more a reflection how the journey has taken its toll and my ability to have become Picasso in the art of suppressing my emotions has continued to wreak havoc on my emotional health. This allows those negative experiences to fester, taking up valuable mental RAM, stealing valuable mental capacity that could otherwise be spent in more productive and creative endeavors, completely deluding my ability to realize my full potential.
I think to properly let go of some of that regret I have to dissect my decision to become a chiropractor and let go of some of the regret, have got to go through it systematically from the beginning. So bare with me.
My career essentially began the moment I stopped playing soccer even though I didn't realize this to be the case. That was a major defining moment of my life. I was receiving interest from a few colleges around the country to play soccer, but after multiple episodes of stress fractures in my low back, I decided it was probably best to call it quits. The alternative was having a fusion surgery, and at such a young age, the long term outcome was not ideal. I decided to attend Indiana University with the intent to become a history teacher. I played on the club soccer team for fun, but soon that turned into a huge opportunity. After the fall, the varsity soccer season ended and IU won the national championship. Two of us who had been playing with the club team were asked if we wanted to train with the varsity soccer team. Despite the the decision to "retire," I could not pass up the opportunity. I'll never forget that first practice. It was a cold, overcast day. The nervous tension in my body matched the chill in the air as I pulled up and parked at the John Mellencamp Pavilion. I knew a couple other freshman and three of my friends from my club soccer team growing up were on the team as well. I felt just comfortable enough to relax and hold my own. The winter training went well and I got to continue pursuing becoming a preferred walk on through the spring season. I got a locker, all the gear, and began lifting weights and practicing everyday with the team. It was all pretty surreal because I went from feeling like I had to give up soccer, a major part of my identity, and the dream of playing in college, to all of a sudden being a small part of one of the greatest college soccer programs in history. As fate would have it, it was all very short lived. My back had been achey, the type of discomfort that is easy to ignore when you're giving your best impression of Rudy trying to hang with some of the best players in the country. The achey discomfort soon turned into sharp, intense pain elicited by something as simple as walking to class. I was angry, 18 years old, and immature. I told the assistant coach who I had become closest to about my issue and that I would unfortunately not be continuing.
Instead of going in and clearing out my locker, talking to some of those on the team I had grown friends with, and quitting with dignity, I essentially disappeared without notice. I pretended that the whole thing didn't bother me. I continued to focus on my classes, my girlfriend (now wife!), and being a normal freshman in college. I am pretty sure I didn't even tell my parents I wasn't playing soccer anymore for almost 2 weeks after I quit. I was crushed and in denial about it. With soccer officially out of my life, I was having an identity crisis and was completely ill equipped. As my freshman year was drawing to a close, I was trying to figure out who I was, and a major part of that was a need to change my major.
The summer between freshman and sophomore year is when I decide I'd go from aspiring history teacher to something in healthcare. My brother-in-law was in chiropractic school, was loving it, had passion for it that was contagious. He was like the older brother I never had; he was intelligent, had a plan, and was someone I looked up to. Instead of investigating alternatives in healthcare to the fullest extent and seeing what would be a perfect fit, I made his plan and goals my own. I even went to the same school without visiting any others. For a person who is a classic over thinker, this was so out of character, but I was super excited, I was doing really well in school, and it felt good to feel like I was finding my new identity.
I was listening to a famous author named Daniel Pink talk about decision making and the Law of Surrogation. It essentially entails finding someone that made the same decision as you and find out what it is really like. Ask yourself, "What don't I know about being a chiropractor?" Find out by talking to those that already made that decision. Seems obvious right? It wasn't for me at the age of 19 at the very time I was searching for a new identity. I was young and arrogant, I thought I knew everything about being a chiropractor simply because I saw one a few times growing up and someone I loved was in chiropractic school and was loving it. I did not listen to anyone else giving me input or advice on other professions.
What I realize is that all decisions you make shape your lifelong journey and there is a reason, a plan, and opportunities for growth and learning within every experience. I think that it is okay to admit to yourself when you've made a bad decision. One decision does not define your life. One thing listening to Daniel Pink and his story made me realize is that you can make decisions when you're young that you may regret, but you can still find happiness and success in what you do. Even though I still feel like it wasn't the best decision, it led to a lot of good in my life that have had a profoundly positive effect.
There will be a Part III to my career saga that I plan to put out tomorrow. As always, thank you so much for reading. I hope that each day someone out there can take something from my writing that impacts them.
I am unleashing a lot about my story in hopes of creating personal growth that allows me to move on and find peace with many aspects of my life that have brought on stress and anxiety that I have not dealt with properly. None more impactful than my niece Henley being diagnosed with cancer and eventually passing away. I am taking on this Do Thirty challenge for myself, but also to raise money to impact other families in Indy fighting childhood cancer. To learn more and donate, please visit my GoFundMe page for this fundraisor.