And everyone ran except for me. Here’s what happened.
I was shooting 0 for 3 when picking high school friends. One day, in the courtyard with about three hundred other students, my friend Danny Roe threw a pressure bomb (a 2-liter soda bottle with tin foil and bathroom cleaner) into a trashcan I was next to. Two milliseconds later, that bomb went off, and everyone in the courtyard broke into panicked screaming and ran for safety, except me. Because I was on crutches, and guess who looked like they planted the bomb? Cripple-Jeff did.
Danny was a shit, and so was my other friend Justin. But next to them, I didn’t feel like I was so damn bad. We were all fucked-up in our own way and had shitty home lives that were different but similar enough that we understood each other’s struggles. None of us had to do better for each other or pretend we were model students. There was no “lowest common denominator” in our group. We were all punks, bringing the other punks down with us.
It won’t surprise you that I was flunking out of school then. Or that I was crashing couches and sleeping in my car some nights. I didn’t have a girlfriend then either, but I was head over crutches for this blonde in my stagecraft class who had a loser boyfriend from another school. My only healthy outlet was a guitar. I would write songs or play stuff from my favorite artists, but both sounded angry.
I almost wish I had some story about how I changed my friends and my life got better. But this is real life. I kept picking friends like that, and for years, it felt like the world was against all of us. I stayed in that culture of “rejects” until it hurt too much to live that way, to say angry, to go nowhere.
One morning we woke up to the news that this funny guy we all knew and liked, Steven, had been shot and killed while trying to steal a four-wheeler a few blocks from the school.
The last straw was the blonde dream girl. We got together and stayed together for a couple of years. Until she cheated on me with the most “Captain America” college kid with a bright future you ever saw. You know, the least-punk guy in existence.
I was over the “Reject” Persona.
A year later, I was 21, working at the front desk of a gym when I wasn’t working my other two jobs in construction or retail. Dream girl wanted to get back with me, but the damage was done, and I needed to have respect for myself.
I’d moved into a rent-house with two other musicians, Luis and Patrick, who were GREAT guys. We were broke musicians in a house with more expensive instruments than our combined fingers and toes, but we would have each other’s backs in a heartbeat. I finally had some stability that didn’t involve regularly looking for new places to sleep or being detained for bombs I didn’t set off. Something still felt “off.” I didn’t have direction in my life. Like I was doing the bare minimum.
I was “making it” but nothing more. That was about to change.
I was always reading something at the front desk and would do what every jock-staff member would do when someone walked in… nothing. People’s keycards wouldn’t work half the time, and they could be coming for free. We wouldn’t know or care if no one “paid us enough to care.” We were decent people, but it was a culture of “making it.”
Until one day…
Mark walked in. I’ll tell you the one thing Mark did to change my life, tomorrow.
For now, I wonder if you’ve felt, or feel similar to me in this post. If you do, does your environment and peer group match that feeling? I’m going somewhere with it.
Tune in tomorrow to find out the thing that Mark did.