Meet the Unedited Me: From barely passing high school shop to panic attacks, single parenthood, & social media
In. May of 2013 and I was at Fenway for a Red Sox game with one of my best friends from childhood. Rick and I had great seats. Right near the radar gun behind home plate. I made it 3 innings and had a massive panic attack. All the family life changes at the end of 2012 caught up to me. I could barely move. I was sick, shaking, sweating, and getting dizzy. Rick had to help me out of Fenway. Driving home I was almost on top of the steering wheel gripping it as if my life depended on it. Rick did his best to try to calm me down. My heart was racing, I was still sweating, and I was so embarrassed. Rick wanted to drive but driving gave me something to focus on. In the days ahead it was getting worse. I couldn't believe what was happening to me. I was a prisoner in my own house. I couldn't go anywhere without having a panic attack. I tried going out to dinner and I'd almost throw up in the parking lot and have to go home. I could go to work and come home. That was it. I knew I needed help and I got it. It took a lot of therapy but i fought through it and woodworking acted as a therapy. A year later i returned to Fenway with another childhood friend. It started to happen again. I started to get so discouraged and ran to the bathroom. I was nervous and again embarrassed but this time i fought. I picked my self up and it through all 9 innings. It was a moral victory for me. To this day I struggle with it but have learned not to let it control my life any more. I was never afraid to get help and I encourage anyone who thinks they need it to do the same.
So much more was about to change. I was putting all my energy into both my new full time business and social media to help promote it. Like most I got caught up in the numbers. I started to get a lot of followers so naturally i wanted more. The bigger I got the more opportunities I got. Sounds good right? Wrong. Yes some good came out of it but i lost my way. I was trying to do too much at once. I was trying to run my business, facebook, instagram, and youtube all by myself. With only so much time in the day to both work and be a father/husband I felt like my content was all over the place. Instead of finding my identity and being the best of that identity I found myself throwing things against the wall to see what would stick and let that dictate my content online. I cared too much about the numbers and tried too hard to be like other popular woodworkers. The only thing I was consistent on was knowing my name was more important than any brand so I'd never tell anyone to buy something i wouldn't use myself. I still stand by that, The problem was at that time I wasn't sure who the woodworker behind my name was and it was time to stop trying to be like everyone else and just be the best version of myself. It was ok that I wasn't making river tables. It was ok I didn't do hand cut dovetails and it was ok that I didnt have fancy recording equipment, do full build videos, or make plans to sell. It was also ok that I wasn't using hardwoods all the time. Being me was ok and that's what I encourage you all to be. Whether its pocket screws and simple DIY builds with pine, or intermediate builds to hone your skills, be yourself at your own pace, Build to the best of your ability. Take pride in your work. If you do that everything else will take care of itself. Your future will shape itself at its own pace and you'll get all you want in time. I wish i took that advice sooner.
As if all that wasn't enough of a roller coaster, 2018 saw me going through a tough divorce. It was the hardest thing I've ever gone through. You never want to learn your spouse is having an affair. The unknowns of what would happen plus having 2 young kids scared the crap out of me. How would my kids react? Would I be homeless? Would I lose my business that I recently started? Could I afford to live? You think the worse when you have no answers. It's manifests even more when the anxiety builds up. It was hard to work each day. I was depressed about what was happening and just wanted to stay on the couch. My kids kept me going and so did some amazing woodworkers on Instagram. I've never met most of them but yet they checked on me every single day and kept my spirits high. I shared with them because I felt like they wouldn't judge me. I'll never forget what they did for me and still do. My kids will never realize it but I leaned on them more than they leaned on me. When My Ex left, me and kids really came into our own. Sure it was a tough adjustment but we really found our groove and I found out what i was made of. I'm so proud of them how they handled it. I have a new appreciation for single parents and the scheduling you have to do for normal everyday life. Having them full time and raising them myself has been a challenge but I wouldn't change a thing. It's made me a better person.
Now it's 2021 and despite the previous 5 years and living through a pandemic I'm happier than I've ever been in life. Before I had all the money and none of the happiness. Now I have no money and all the happiness. Give me option 2 any day of the week. I was also fortunate enough to meet someone who brings out the best in me and motivates me. She is absolutely amazing and has shown me what I was missing in life. She's exactly what I've been looking for my whole life and she was 3 miles away the whole time. For the first time I'm comfortable with who I am and where I am. I've learned to be proud of my accomplishments and I'm more driven than ever. I have so many ideas that I want to implement but I'm ok being patient for the right time to implement them. I'm so grateful for all the people who have come into my life. I believe everything happens for a reason. I'm grateful for the opportunities that have crossed my path and I'm better equipped to tackle them now than ever before.
If I could offer some advice it would be to slow down and be comfortable with who you are. You can still be driven and go for what you want while still doing it at a pace you're comfortable with. Focus on what you can learn from others instead of focusing how you can be like others, The numbers and following will come in time. The skills will as well. It can be hard and frustrating for sure but remember we all started off the same way. At some point we all had no skills and inexpensive tools. Appreciate what you have, how far you've come, and the people who have supported you along the way. It's easy to get discouraged and frustrated. It's ok. Just don't let that change you. I still have so much to learn and i try each day to learn from my mistakes and be better for the next time.
Thanks for following me on my journey . I hope that my story resonates with someone and helps even a little. I love the woodworking community and what it has done to my life. I love what we represent and i look forward to being a part of it for years to come. Stay tuned!