A few days ago my wife asked me a simple question:
“Do you wish you never went to the University of Alabama?”
To give some background on this question, from 1998 to 2000 I attended the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. I ended up there for two reasons; 1) I didn’t want to just go to the same school everyone else did , 2) It was alphabetically the first school in the guidance counselors file drawer of schools to apply to. I had applied to UF and got accepted to Summer term, but being me, I had to be different than everyone else.
What happened at UA changed me a lot. It was a pretty huge culture shock for me, and at an older age I realize it wasn’t the school’s fault, I just wasn’t mature enough to handle it. During my two years there I excelled at school, met some wonderful caring people, but was hopelessly depressed. It all culminated in the Spring semester of my Sophomore year when I came to a point where I couldn’t even get out of bed. I had a complete breakdown.
I came home the Summer of 2000, and decided, in a tough conversation with my father, to stay home, go to Florida Atlantic University for a while, and get healthy. I was broken. All my friends were off at University enjoying their lives, and I couldn’t cope. Even now, the pain I felt then is pretty vivid.
So this was the basis for my wife’s question. I think it is a question we all ponder when we make statements like , “If I could do it all over again…”
But here is the reality, if I never went through my time at UA, I would never have come home, and in the Summer of 2000 I would not have started dating my wife, and I likely wouldn’t have the life I have today. If you asked a 20 year old Dave if he would rather have a happy college life or an amazing future with a loving wife and family, I would have chosen the happy college life, because like most of us I only care about what I am feeling NOW.
This pattern has happened again and again for me.
Four years ago I took my last drink of alcohol. My drinking had caused pain for my family, and myself. The reality of the pain that I caused at the height of my drinking career is that the changes I have made to my life since then have made me a better husband and father than I was before. I would not be the person I am today if I hadn’t caused so much pain then. The pain broke me, and fueled my change.
Do I wish I could take away the pain I caused? Everyday. The way I handle that is learning from what I did, and making it my mission every day to make sure I make an amends for the past with my actions in the present.
In the last 18 months I have gone through a similar situation in my professional life. I had to leave a business I helped create and deal with ensuing issues related to that decision. It was extremely painful for me on a personal and professional level. I dealt with it in private, but couldn’t understand why it was happening. Today , for me, it is pretty clear I had to go through that pain to get CopyPress to where it is today, and help me shape this business in the correct way.
I have been asked time and time again, “Do you wish you would never have been involved in BlueGlass?”
The answer is no. I learned so much from that experience, and without that experience I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Pain is a part of life. When you are in the middle of it, it is impossible not to hate it. However, I have learned it is important to realize the pain is temporary, and it is impossible to know where life is going to take you based on how it refines you.
Where are you at?