July 12, 2022

Sh*t I Learned The Hard Way: Part 1


let's be honest

A lot of the things we learn in life come at the cost of us going through some shit. Pardon my language, but I honestly don't know of any other word that more appropriately describes the struggle of learning things the hard way. (maybe i'm only talking to myself)

Let's cover some of my history.

My first job was at a McDonald's, and it was here that I discovered I had a knack for getting in the good graces of higher ups with clever words, a sly smile, and "hard work."

Now, you should know that in reality this little skillset of mine was an absolute farce. I hadn't worked hard at ANYTHING up to this point in my life, except for making people believe that I was good at things that I knew nothing about.

“you can't get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.”

This was the beginning of a VERY difficult decade in my life. You see, my problem wasn't finding and securing opportunities, but it was maintaining them for any real length of time.

From the age of 15 to the age of about 22 I went through approximately 20 different jobs! I did just about everything under the sun too: fast food, delivery driver, store manager, pizza maker, news paper sales, B2B sales, machinist, construction, shift manager, and more.

Please, hold your applause, that isn't a good thing.

So what was the problem? My character.

Character, in my opinion, can be best described as the foundation of a person's life that all of the other parts of their life is built from, so if the foundation sucks then the resulting life being built is gonna suck too.

“When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.”

"If i change, everything changes"

This saying haunts me. It comes from a sermon series that I heard for the first time right around the age of 22, and it made me confront something that I had been running from all of my life: everything was my fault.

I get it, no one wants to hear that. But if you'll take a step back from your emotions and take a long hard look at your life you will undoubtedly come to the same conclusion.

I grew up in a mixed race home, I myself being half white and half Mexican. I'm the youngest of 5 kids, and the only kid born to MY mom and dad which means that all my other siblings are half siblings. Also, there is a significant age gap between me and my siblings so I never connected much with any of them growing up as a kid, but I did experience the fallout of every poor choice each of them made.

My brothers would often run away from home and consistently get into trouble. Both of them got in with the wrong crowd which led to them being kicked out of the house, while my sisters decided that they would rather be with their mom in Alabama so they left around the same time that my brothers checked out.

This left me alone. In a broken home with two parents that tried their very best to raise me while dealing with their own, major, issues.

Long story short, they got divorced and I found myself in a VERY broken family situation that would only prove to get more estranged as the years pressed on. So, why am I telling you this? Because by all accounts I should not have the kind of life that I have now. "Statistically" I should be in jail or worse and the world around us would say that it would be because of my upbringing or because I am a minority or because I look a certain way, blah blah blah.

Hard truth: all of that is bullsh*t.

I'm not saying that the past isn't important or that the way you are raised doesn't matter, because they definitely do matter. But what I am saying is that there comes a point where you have to take responsibility for your life and decide what it's going to look like.

“insisting on living in the past will kill your future. let it go.”

why it matters

Once I got free from my personal hangups and the chains of my past, I was then able to push past the limits of my poor character and build something new.

My life now is much different from what it could've been. I am married with 3 beautiful kids, have a fantastic career in the creative industry, own my own business, am a pastor at a great church in Mesa, AZ, and I am blessed to have a strong circle of friends that can be counted on.

So, lets recap what I learned:

  1. You are responsible for the condition of your life
  2. You have to break free from the chains of the past and bad habits
  3. Decide to develop strong character so that you can build better things in your life

This is really a summary of an essential thing that every person needs to learn, and if you can conquer it, then you can really begin to make major strides in the different areas of your life.

P.S. I should mention that this is a lesson I have had to review over and over again as I've entered new seasons of life, because change is not a one-time event, but a lifelong pursuit.

I hope this helps! Stay tuned for part 2.