So, you fucked up your life.

The one decision I would undo, if I could, would be when I decided to take Brandeis up on their offer of a partial assistantship. I would instead have accepted Wyoming’s full tuition and fee waiver, assistantship, and the additional travel stipend they offered. I wish, now, that that was the choice I made. But that’s not what happened.

I gambled on the notion that maybe I could raise the money to go to Brandeis despite the loans I had coming up short. All I needed was about $600. But that was too much to ask.

Subsequently, I moved back to my parents’ house. My laptop was stolen, and if you know anything about me, you know that this was a vital piece of equipment to me. There was an emotional attachment. So, that happened, and my cat got hit by a car, and it seemed like anything that could go wrong was going wrong for me.

I was also drinking heavily. I had a fifth of vodka in my overnight bag that I took to Tallahassee for my graduation ceremony. I was walking into the auditorium drinking straight vodka and looking terrible (and terribly upset).

Everyone else had people cheering for them. I didn’t hear anyone cheer for me when I walked on stage to accept my diploma.

One of the event coordinators told me to smile. I just looked at her.

Now, this went on for a good 16 or 18 months. And you could argue that having the nervous breakdown I had made things worse than they had to be. But you have to understand the significance of all of this for me.

Imagine you’re a star athlete, and your dream is to get into the school with one of the top teams and play for them, and go on to the pros. Now imagine you’ve completed preseason work, everything’s going well, and you decide to take a different way home after practice.

You fall down or something and get badly hurt. Doctors tell you it’ll be a couple years at least before you can play again.

You’re devastated. This is all you’ve wanted, all you’ve worked for, and you feel you’ve lost it forever. Maybe you have, and maybe you haven’t, not forever, but you definitely aren’t going to play the season opener next week. And the kicker is that the reason has nothing to do with your ability or anything concerning merit. It’s just this stupid fucking thing that happened. You made an inconsequential decision that turned out to actually have major real world consequences.

So, you fucked up your life. You’re allowed to mourn what could have been.

But what really matters is what happens next. And I think the hard thing, when you’ve spent a lot of time working toward one thing in particular, is having to do something else. You’ve devoted all your time, energy, and resources to this one thing. It’s literally the only goal you have in life. And now things have changed and might never be the same. You might never get the opportunity you once had.

And you have no idea what to do.

That’s what this has been like for me.

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