What Do YOU Learn From Early Successes?

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.

wicked3 wicked2(1)

Actual screen shots from the short film.

Actual screen shots from the 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 justโ€ฆstopped. 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.

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13 thoughts on “What Do YOU Learn From Early Successes?

  1. Can it count as a threesome if all of YOUR clothes stayed on? hmmmm … and the fact that you quoted David Letterman “C’s get degrees!” hells to the yes…that was my personal motto on Thirsty Thursdays when my friends would remind me we had a Friday AM exam as I downed my sixth Jello shot…what kind of professor gives those anyway??? Answer: Shitty Ones.

    • Hey, c’mon. All I’ll say is that, as a seven year old, I participated to the best of my abilities and it probably wouldn’t have changed anything if my clothes came off.

      I have a request for you and any of the other lovely ladies who might see this. I’ve posted a new short story titled You Should Read More. Link is on my short stories page.

      It’s a bit of a departure from my normal fiction writing. Would you take a look and tell me what you think?

  2. Hm…. So much food for thought in this post.
    I had a lot of early successes, it continued through college and right after, and then I lost my way for many years while trying to figure out this career BS. I had finally caught up after moving to Russia, but I always get stuck on where I could have been, professionally and financially, if I hadnt spent years meandering in wrong waters. Not sure if I’ll ever get over that.

    • I tell the young people to make your mistakes while your young so you’ll have plenty of time to get past them. I hope the regrets won’t follow you for too long.

      It certainly appears that you are making the most of your opportunities now.

    • I’ve been thinking about your comment. As I read more of your blog, I realize that our lives are about as opposite as two Americans could possibly be. That fascinates me! I live in a region with very little diversity. It’s very interesting, and entertaining, to talk with someone with such a completely different background and experience.

      That must be why you find me so intriguing. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚
        I did live in Rhode Island for 2.5 years so I have seen the flip side – the quiet, parochial American suburbia. It is not without its charms ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Ok, let’s clarify some terms. There are 7 residents on the 5 mile stretch of road that I live on. Every other living thing on our road is a cow.

        Quiet, parochial Rhode Island suburbia is still quite removed from my version of the American experience.

        There is value to both, of course. I love the life I lead. But I’m thinking back to your comment about trying to figure out the impression I have of you. My impression is that you are as different as anyone I’ve had the pleasure of talking with.

        Side note; I told my wife that you refer to her as “Boobs” and we refer to you as “my Russian chick”. Hope that’s okay! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • AWW. The moniker is totally fine. And if your wife ever decides she’s not cool with hers, she should rethink her avatar. Those things are just… beaming up! (I am a fan of boobs, I dont mind)

        I like cows. I am trying to buy a country home for my mom somewhere in “cow country” but everywhere that’s rustic and bucolic enough is way too far for me to pop over from Moscow after work in case anything happens, and traffic here is epic (seriously – just google Moscow traffic or Moscow driving) and road infrastructure hasnt caught up to demand.

        I know that RI is pretty far from the Plain States, but hey, it’s the closest I’ve come to the Middle American Experience ๐Ÿ˜‰ If I dont count that time I drove through Idaho on my way from Jackson Hole to Bozeman…

      • She is totally cool with it and thinks you have an awesome sense of humor.

        If you saw our picture from Disney World, that isn’t her normal style of dress. She keeps them pretty well hidden in daily life, but she’s actually quite proud of them.

        Different topic; in the next week or so, I’m going to write an article about life in the city as part of my “things I know nothing about” series. Would you be interested in doing a q&a about metropolitan life for me?

      • Absolutely! I’d be honored!
        In case that matters at all for putting together your Qs, I was born and raised in Moscow, to which I returned nearly 3 years ago; lived in NYC for nearly 7; in DC and nearby for about 4; and split a year between Paris and Madrid.
        (Can I quote her on the humor? I know feminists get a bad rep for that one, but Russians get an even worse one! ๐Ÿ˜› )

      • Holy cow! That’s a lot of living! This should be fun. I’ll try to have it to you later this week.

        Sure, you can quote her. She’s quite the expert on humor, so you’ve been vetted by the best.

        I’m convinced that most scowling feminist have simply never been thoroughly and properly….attended to. This is confirmed by the fact that they always scowl deeper when I tell them this.

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