On the eve of my 30th year on this Earth I wanted to take some time to reflect on the past few years of my life. For many, the big 3-0 is a scary life event, and I had looked at it that way for the last few months as well, but instead of facing a new decade of my life with fear and dread, I want to face it with honesty and optimism.
Only a handful of you know this, but last year I was let go from an extremely lucrative job which I committed several years of my personal and professional life to. It afforded me an obscene amount of expendable income, an expense account, trips to Las Vegas, luxury watches, clothes, the ability to redecorate my apartment on a whim, and to dine at some of the best restaurants in the country. But after years butting heads over creative, managerial and directional aspects of the company, I was replaced by an individual with considerably less marketing savvy, but considerably more industry experience. I was depressed, bitter, dejected, and lost. I probably lied to many of you about this. Maybe even right to your face. All to save face and protect my pride.
My closest group of friends is extraordinarily successful. To a level that most people will never experience in their entire lives. I’ve constantly felt the
need to compete with them; via our close-knit, fraternity-style gatherings known as Baraday, fantasy sports, professionally, etc. During my time at the aforementioned company I experienced a level of success and career advancement that I never thought I would achieve, especially after deciding to make the switch from city planning to digital marketing, so losing that level of clout and personal accomplishment was a tremendous blow to my self esteem. Even out of my Baraday crew, I’m pretty sure less than a quarter of them know about this until now.
Over the past year I’ve interviewed at dozens of companies in various industries, but nothing seemed to match up with my experience and goals. I’m great at what I do, working with numerous companies to build their digital presence, grow their brands, and connect with both current and potential customers, but be it a lack of specific skills, under or over-qualification, I never found that perfect fit.
There have been points over the past several years that I have struggled with crippling depression and alcoholism. Points where I could barely get out of bed in the morning. There have been points I’ve had to worry about defaulting on my student loans and being evicted from my apartment. If you follow me on various social media platforms, you’ve only seen what I wanted to portray and put out into the world. The image of a happy, successful individual, regardless of how far it was from the truth. But I never gave in. I took these experiences and focused on what I love and what I do well.
Through these learning experiences, reflections, successes, and failures I have had the opportunity to focus on things I love and am proud of. Closer relationships with my family and friends. A beautiful and healthy relationship with my amazing, successful, loving, and supportive girlfriend, Stephanie. Not being able to find the right professional fit through conventional means, I finally took a leap and started my own business, Engage Social Media Solutions, which as of this week is close to servicing a half dozen clients. Maybe most important to me at this moment (and as most of you are probably tired of hearing about by now), I converted my love of elevated and beautiful food in the New Brunswick and Central NJ area into CougEats, a food blog network highlighting deserving restaurants via Instagram, Facebook, and recently Patreon (in the hopes that those of you who appreciate the dedication to my passion may decide to support me). As you may have seen I’ve even had the opportunity to be published and make crucial industry connections.
It has not been easy. I have leaned on friends and family for support as I get my ventures up and running, but it’s because of you guys that I keep moving forward and continue chasing my dreams.
2016 was one of the worst years of my life (aside from being lucky enough to meet my girlfriend, be crowned #BaradayXII MVP, and win my very first fantasy football championship). If it weren’t for my incredible family, friends, and girlfriend / best friend, I honestly can’t say where I would be or what I would be doing. As I begin my 30th year, I try to do so with a positive outlook and a renewed sense of accomplishment. I know many of you have also suffered silently, but it’s important to realize that if you’re lucky enough to have a support network, you are never alone. If you don’t feel like you have anyone to turn to, I promise that you do.
The moral of the story (as cliche as it is): Keep following your dreams, and regardless of how down and out you may feel, never ever give up. Thank you to all who have been there for me and had my back, and know that if you ever need it, I have your back too. Here’s to making my 30s the best years of my life. Cheers.