It’s about 10 a.m. on a generic Saturday morning in October 2014. A 20-year-old version of myself sits alone on his bed nursing a very typical hangover from a very typical Friday night. He, myself, is a mere sliver of the professional and student that I would become in the ensuing 20-plus months. But without him, none of this would have happened.
My first two-or-so years of college, if viewed through a strictly scholastic lens, would be characterized as a waste. School was not my chief priority; it was a mere speck in the clichéd rearview mirror.
For myself, and the large majority of my close friends, we lived for the weekend: hanging out with friends, meeting new ones, reliving past memories and creating new ones. Although I do regret the stagnant pace my educational progression took because of this lifestyle, I made a lot of great friends and came into my own as an adult among my peers. But that coming-of-age came at a price, so costly that I could have been ejected from this university. On a couple occasion –non-consecutively thankfully—my G.P.A. dropped below the ‘Mendoza Line’ of a 2.0.
Although being an adult in a social sense was important to me, at some point, I decided there was much more to collegiate life than that. On that morning in October 2014, I slowly leaned up from my slumbered state, on the backs of three-day bender, and decided that my purpose and potential were much greater than what I’d been living to. Interestingly, that Saturday in October was not a designated date as a sort of ‘New Year’s Resolution’, it was just the day that I said “enough is enough”. In fact, the most memorable moment of that day for me: Wisconsin went on to beat Iowa at Kinnick Stadium that night.
Discovering that academics was the chief and only priority for me as junior –in age sophomore in standing—is an incredibly overdue realization, but it’s the hand I dealt myself.
From that day I committed myself to a more progressive and productive approach, making minor improvements each day. My improvements, understandably, were not exponential, but I could clearly see each small progression take shape.
Flash forward to today…September 2016. I am by no means a finished product. I have a tremendous amount of growing and improving to do as a journalist and a student, but I am proud of what improvements I have made.
In the last year, I have worked for ESPN Milwaukee, WISN 12, become an assistant editor for the school paper, named a beat writer for a national blog and made my debuts on TV and radio. I have interviewed professional basketball players, college coaches and high school administrators.
Before my ‘epiphany’ or whatever, I wasn’t anywhere close to accomplishing any of this. I didn’t even have a cover letter or resume. Before that day, my weekends started on Wednesday and my class attendance percentage was a bad batting average—although I still tend to miss classes today. Bad habits die hard, right?
Long before October 2014, I knew the life I was leading wasn’t what I wanted. When graduating was a mere pipe dream, I desired to be better, but I went through phases of epidemic laziness or intimidation at the long journey it’d be to improve. Until that day I said ‘screw it’ and just tried making a student and professional out of myself. There was one particular quote that really spurred me to make this dramatic change,
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world,” Mahatma Ghandi said.
This quote resonated with me because it said to me, quite simply and concisely, that if I want to do something with myself, it comes down to me.
Going forth, I know there are many improvements to be made, but without that day I decided to turn things around, I don’t know where I would be. I am much different than that 20-year-old incarnation of myself, but I am forever endowed to him. Without him, and that Saturday morning in 2014, a totally random Saturday best remembered as a Badger football Saturday, I wouldn’t be a semester from graduation and in position to begin a professional life.
Ps If you were wondering, Melvin Gordon rushed for 200 yards against the Hawks that day…the Saturday I turned my life around.