I grew up in a working class family in a rural town with a population of under 3,000.
Growing up, I was shy and had few friends, so spent a lot of time before and after school with my grandfather who was a retired army veteran who tinkered on computers.
He was so patient and could fix just about anything. He built the framework of my personality, from my goofy sense of humor to my life priorities.
Unfortunately, he passed away suddenly on my 8th birthday at the beginning of summer vacation… I was devastated.
June of the year prior, my best friend had moved to another school district… I had no friends waiting for me back at school in September.
So, I developed some social barriers, and an anger problem.
By fifth grade, I had broken down. I had difficulty attending school, and seldom paid attention while I was there.
Sixth grade, I met a great friend who I still speak with regularly. We raised hell, and he really started to break the shell I had put myself in.
By ninth grade, I probably had a hand full of friends, but I was basically invisible to the other 95 people in my class. Most people probably thought I wasn’t too bright, as I didn’t speak frequently in school.
What really broke me out of my anxiety, insecurity and poor social habits was finding my passions. Writing, and working with my hands.
Our life experiences are what we make of them, and I made a shift early on to find my identity.
I had always spent my free time (away from school) with my parents, landscaping and doing yard work [and playing video games, as any young introverted boy would].
In the time spent with my dad, I learned a lot about building (seemingly simple things like: decks, sheds and a roof or two). I spent some more free time working on cars, trucks and motorcycles with my dad who has been a mechanic and a self-certified “Mr. Fix-It” and a DIY professional for his entire life.
I doubled down on my interest in skilled trade work, working with my hands, and automobiles.
I watched TV shows that followed super talented craftsmen like Chip Foose, and Jesse James to learn what was possible, and the amazing things they could create.
Today, I have a good day job at a sheet metal manufacturing company where I have the pleasure of creating some amazing things for some pretty cool companies around the world.
What makes me happy is that I get my hands dirty, and I help bring projects on paper to life.
It’s exciting to find an outlet that shows you what life has to offer; when something makes us light up.
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs