I have been fortunate to have experienced a fair amount of early successes in my life.
As I mentioned in my last post, the first poem I ever wrote won second place in a regional school poetry contest. I was in sixth grade.
I had my first threesome in second grade. Seriously. Two third grade girls lured me into the bedroom closet and took their clothes off. For the sake on not being disgusting, I won’t describe what happened. But my clothes stayed on.
In 2004, I began writing short stories. The first story I ever tried to submit, The Blood of The Wicked, was immediately accepted by an on-line publication, Skive Magazine. A few weeks later, I was contacted by a film school student named Craig Ormiston telling me he had read my story and wanted to make it into a short film.
In high school, I got a 30 on my ACT’s (midwest’s version of the SAT’s) on my first try. That is the elusive 95%. First kid in my school to do so in several years.
I played basketball in high school, I’m 6’2′, and I was one of only two kids in my class who could dunk a basketball. I’m talking two handed throw down. I could almost touch my elbow the rim.
So, what did these early successes get me? Not jack shit.
The rest of my poems are in my notebooks, never again to be seen.
I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 16. I never had a girlfriend in high school and I was a virgin until I was 19. And even that was a completely messed up affair. My wife was my second actual relationship.
I actively wrote short stories for about another year, then just…stopped. I never attempted to submit anything else for publication. I just lost all interest.
I had my ACT results sent to three schools in my state. Two of them didn’t even acknowledge me.
I sat the bench my entire junior year of basketball and quit the first day of practice my senior year. I could jump like you wouldn’t believe, but I actually sucked at basketball as a sport.
So, what is my point?
None of the things that came easy have lasted. The only affect they’ve had is to mess with my head. I wanted them to mean something. I wanted people to notice my accomplishments and be impressed. What an awesome guy I must be to have accomplished these things! And with so little effort!
But nobody noticed and nobody cared. And while I enjoyed them, they really weren’t that important to me. Except the short story. I’m actually damn proud of that one.
I wish the poetry contest would have paid some money. I had to attend a formal gathering where they recognized all the winners. It was very uncomfortable for my family as it was a bit of a dress up affair and no one in my family owned any decent clothes. Frankly, it was embarrassing and I wish it hadn’t happened.
I wish the threesome had come along ten years later when I really needed to know what the hell to do with girls.
I would have traded the jumping for a decent outside shot any day.
I wish my guidance counselor hadn’t made such a big freaking deal about the test scores. When I got to college, the scores didn’t matter and C’s get degrees just as well as A’s and B’s.
You know which things matter to me?
The ones I had to work my ass off to figure out, often through lots of trial and error.
My job that I didn’t find until I was 27, after four years of floundering after college, wondering if I was going to amount to anything.
My storage shed in the back yard that I built by hand three times before I got it correct enough stand up.
The 12 bars of Cliffs of Dover that it took me a year to learn on the guitar. That equates to less than 30 seconds of the four minute song. I’ll never be good enough to learn the rest.
This silly blog that gets fewer visitors a month than most of you get in a day.
And most importantly; my marriage. Which I can say I get right more often than I get wrong, but I’m still figuring it out.
It’s simple really; I’ve got more invested in the failures. Every time I have to start over, I’m making the decision to continue in spite of poor results. I’m investing myself emotionally in the process of failure and success. And once I find success, I see it as a true accomplishment.
Easy successes are fine. They can be a fun part of life, but it’s the ones you have to work for that you really appreciate.
No go work your ass off.