Recently one of my best mates (friends, you’re welcome Nimz) came to visit me in America to see what life was like in my country. We had some great adventures , but more importantly some great, insightful conversations. One thing that we spoke about was the difference be being content versus being comfortable. I think of all the conversations we had driving many hours on the highways and byways, this conversation stuck out to me the most. This is why…
How many of us set a goal whether immediate or long-term, and fell short but are content with where we ended up?
How many of you are comfortable with the career you’re in only because it turned out not to “be so bad” but you had alternative, bigger goals that you may never reach because you don’t care enough to keep pursuing?
I know I’m not the only person who has ever aspired to achieve a high level of success in whatever I’ve chosen to pursue. Maybe once upon a time, we may have wanted to be a doctor, or a lawyer, or a high ranking government official; regardless of the desired occupation, we ultimately committed two things toward that goal: 1) Time and 2) Effort. Before we chose to pursue whatever our goal was, we took the time to look up what the job entailed as well as making an effort to speak with people familiar with the field. There are certain occupations that you literally look at and say “I want to do that” until you find out how much schooling it requires to do so. (To be a lawyer for example, bachelors, Masters, LSAT’s, Law School, Bar exam, then maybe a job opportunity. You’re officially a lawyer by 27 if that.)
The reason I wrote this blog in particular is for two demographics: The aspiring professionals in whatever field you choose, and to those former student athletes like myself who went into different “professional” backgrounds.
The reason this piece is called “Now What?” is simply to discuss what goes through one’s mind once they’ve achieved a long standing goal. To those who are not aware, I’m in the middle of a career hunt, not a “job hunt;” there’s a difference. Let’s be honest, most of my followers via Instagram, Facebook, etc. know me from my playing (lacrosse) days at Syracuse University. I had a tremendous career where I was a part of two National Championship teams (2008,2009) as well as being selected as All-American Midfielder twice (2010,2011) and I was blessed to be a part of a class that went down as the winningest class in school history.
(2011 before Major League Lacrosse)
After my collegiate career concluded, I got drafted to play professionally (still am currently) and its amazing. However, when I was in high school I knew that by choosing to play lacrosse in college rather than football meant that the dream of a professional career would entail a ton of hard work which I was willing to do, but more importantly, a huge decrease in potential earnings. I understand that my decision to pick lacrosse over football came with this set of circumstances, but I chose what I loved a tad bit more. I’m not here to say I regret my decision, but to be honest with you, I do think about how differently life would be for me had I chose football. You see in my case although I made it to be a professional, my bank account wouldn’t tell you that. After my 2012 MLL All-Star year, I definitely felt like I was on “Cloud 9,” but that platform is so finite that when its gone you almost forget you accomplished such feats. This is not to take a jab at the league that employs me, but rather to highlight a set of circumstances that come with the “profession” you choose.
For me, athletic accolades were always easier for me to achieve. As I continued to reach for goals on the field, I always captured them believing that in the long-run they would benefit me to a professional level. When I got to the pros I remember thinking, “That’s it?” as if in some way I had worked my whole life to be a professional athlete and the aftermath of it was wildly underwhelming. I’m 6 years deep, a regular in the lineup, but still broke, not because I mismanage my money, but because of the “profession” I chose. “Now What?”
(2016 MLL finale, I’d be in England 2 weeks later finishing my dissertation)
As I briefly mentioned earlier, there were many occupations I thought about pursuing once upon a time. To name a few of these possible career paths (Don’t Laugh!), I wanted to be an astronaut, a pediatric surgeon, a veterinarian, or wait for it….a professional athlete (Now you can laugh…). Of these four examples, three were “pipe dreams.” not because I wasn’t smart enough (Back then I believed that), but simply because I wasn’t willing to put in the TIME and EFFORT necessary for those occupations. In my adolescent years, when the “Career Fair” came around, I would go just to go. As most adolescent teens, you think you know who you are (which you don’t) but more interestingly, what you want to do for a living. My thoughts in High School was:
What’s an education if I have a few million dollars in my bank account right?
I was always a B- student (Always have been) and I remember most of the time while I was in school, I was happy, or content, with a pass. I didn’t need to get an “A” just as long as I didn’t see a “D” or “F,” I was eligible to play sports. When I transferred to Christian Brothers Academy after my freshmen year in 2005, I was failing 4 out of 6 classes at one point there, not to mention one of the classes I was passing was Phys. Ed (and I had a 100, who saw that coming?). Because I had transferred I was not able to participate in Varsity sports that year, but if I was eligible, I would not have qualified academically anyway. My sophomore was the first and only time I had ever had to go to Summer School (which is the worst thing ever). Once I adjusted to the high academic standard of the school, I did fine (ish). To officially graduate from high school I had a Government class that was the death of me in which I needed a 69 on the final exam to pass, I got a 70. That was one of the scariest days of my life, but I passed…barely.
(Christian Brothers Academy High School Graduation 2007)
There were many times where I didn’t feel smart enough, but I started to chase the feeling of relief of accomplishing something with my mind rather than my physical abilities. School was like a drug for me in the fact that the better I did, the more graduation receptions I would attend. I never thought I was smart enough to get one bachelors degree let alone two. I was always told that being a scholar looks really good on your resume, so more school for me. I had once again reached another height I’d never thought possible, a Masters degree.
(Syracuse University Graduation 2011 with Mr. Sparks , my 7th Grade Social Studies Teacher. This man saved my life.)
(Queens University of Charlotte 2015, Bachelors Degree in Sport Management.)
(Loughborough University (U.K.) 2016, Masters Degree in Sport Management.)
The conflict I face is that the environment in which I have experienced is sending mixed signals. On one side of the coin I’ve reached the pinnacle of an athlete’s experience, to play professionally and standing out in the process yet I don’t feel like a professional both financially and publicly (I’m A-OK with that, let me be very clear). While on the other hand, society stresses education and I have enough to contribute to a Sport Agency yet I continually am turned down for at least internships with these companies.
I love to play the game of lacrosse, not talk it 24/7. It’s something I respect enough to let be and not tamper with, but it’s something I know so much about. I see many of my talents as an opportunity for something so big that I’ll be overwhelmed by the doors they open up for me, but my biggest fear is choosing a career in which some of the things I do best are not put to use because the job description does not require some of those skills.
So the question now is:
Choose a career path that I’m content with having because it pays the bills, or not settling for being comfortable in an occupation in which I’ll regret not taking that leap of faith to pursue my deepest desires in life?