Who Am I?
If I’m going to tell my story, I should start at the beginning.
My name is Derek, and I’m a jaded ’80s baby.
Do you know how some kids grow up knowing what they want to be as an adult?
Well, I never had that conviction. If you asked me what I wanted to be 12 different times, you would probably get 12 different answers. I was a great student, but without direction, it was meaningless. I had no objective. If you don’t have that burning desire to be the best at something, you tend to settle for being okay or good at everything.
I graduated from college in 2006 with a mountain of student loan debt, a degree that I couldn’t/wouldn’t use and no idea of what I wanted to do with my life. I stumbled through my early and mid-20’s while taking dead-end jobs and drifting in and out of mostly unhealthy relationships.
Life is difficult enough, but I operated as if it needed my help.
My parents were riding me like a rented mule and constantly imploring me to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. My mom was a teacher, and my dad was an x-ray technician. Both are respectable trades, but I didn’t want to look at broken bones for a living, and I promised myself that I would never step another foot inside another classroom once I graduated from college. Life finally managed to pull the rug out from bemeath my feet and force me to decide around the time I turned 25. While playing basketball at the gym, I tore all of the ligaments in my right knee, and everything went downhill from there.
I hadn’t decided what I wanted to do with my life, so I didn’t have anything that resembled a career. With my lack of career came a lack of health insurance. I couldn’t afford to pay for insurance myself, so I was stuck walking around on a leg that was being held together by a knee brace. Finally, I had hit rock bottom.
I had no direction in my life and one good leg. The future looked bleak at best.
After my injury, my mom pushed me to try substitute teaching. I hated it at first, but the profession started to grow on me, so I wound up enrolling in grad school to get my degree in education. Two years later, the Affordable Healthcare Act was signed into law. Finally, I’d be able to afford insurance and have my knee repaired! Things were starting to turn in my favor.
2010 and 2011 were great years for me. I had my knee reconstruction surgery in 2010, and I graduated from grad school in 2011. One of the side effects of preparing myself for surgery was a massive weight loss. I was so scared of having complications while I was on the operating table that I became the most disciplined eater and workout warrior on the planet. Leading up to my surgery, I stopped eating meat, drinking beer, and partying. These healthy lifestyle changes caused me to lose a whopping 85 lbs.
In 2012, with my new knee in tow, I was on top of the world. I was a svelte 185lbs, which made clothes shopping a breeze; I had my master’s degree in education, which gave me a goal to work towards; and I had already met a person who would spark a massive change in my approach to life. The events of 2011 and 2012 played a significant role in the reconstruction of my life, and they would prove to be the catalyst for change that I’d been seeking for so long.
I didn’t know it, but I was about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. That tumultuous period of my life forced me to stop merely existing. It was time to start living for a change. I have been, and still am, on a journey to take control of my life, and you’re invited to come along for the ride.
Welcome to my adventure!
A Jaded ’80s Baby