I spent time this weekend pulling apart old photo albums. We’ve already digitized our music and movie collections. Photos are next.
This story starts with me leaving South Florida, where my mom and stepdad moved me and my brother in 1988, to go to the University of Cincinnati in 1991. I was to study engineering, a silly choice for someone who spent all his high school free time writing code. When I got there I knew absolutely no one, was still five hours from my dad so had no support structure, and basically was in shock, completely alone. I ended up meeting some guys that accepted me, they were in a fraternity, so I joined, another very weird decision for me.
The next school year I moved into the house and lived in a variety of rooms during that time and took a variety of jobs, including cooking on Tuesday nights. (I had never cooked a meal in my life before that but I didn’t make anyone sick so I must have done okay.) In the spring of 1993 I was elected treasurer and did a solid enough job. I really enjoyed the job and was part of my decision to switch from engineering to business. My big claim to fame is that I filled the house for the summer, making it profitable. That had never happened before.
Except it was really hot and there was no air conditioning. I couldn’t stand it and, one day, went out and found an apartment with air conditioning and moved out.
It was a really stupid decision. Yes, moving further from campus was a silly decision as I wasted tons of time driving back and forth to my apartment 20 minutes away. But moving out of the house meant I had to relinquish my role as treasurer. For the first time in my two+ years at Cincinnati I finally was fitting in, being apart of the team, learning how to manage peers. And I moved out, gave up the role. I’m sure I annoyed a bunch of people, especially since I did it with no notice.
I was flailing around so badly, looking for something but not knowing what I was looking for. In the next few months, a long-term relationship disintegrated, I dumped the apartment, dropped out of school, packed my car with everything I would keep, and drove through a blizzard back to Florida.
Pulling those albums apart, looking at those pictures, just made me think about what a silly, impulsive decision it all was. It was incredible training for running a company, leading peers. I threw that all away over a hot spell. It reminded me of something I haven’t forgotten since: make the most of every situation, even if that situation is a bad one.