I already know the kind of person/man I want to be, and I have two men to thank for that.
For the few, if any, that read these posts, I know that this comes as a bit of a curveball because most of the submissions are related to work, marketing and tech, or any combination of the two. I am of the firm belief that my work is best when it is grounded in who I am, what I love, and what I am good at, so from time to time I may reflect on personal stuff.
I should probably start this by shooting some love out to my mother and sister. You have both had amazing effects on teaching me about life and taking care of me, but this post is primarily about the male role models in my life.
That being said, recent and upcoming events have caused me to reflect a bit recently about how great of a support system I have had my entire life, and how I plan on shaping myself based on the lessons I have learned. As far as the male examples in my life, I would go toe-to-toe with anyone who claims they have a better pair of teachers about life as a man than I have in my father and my brother.
Separated by 8.5 years, I only really lived in the same house as my older brother for about 10 years before he left for college and, eventually, real life. As such, the way that we were able to relate each other was not on a “peer to peer” level until I hit college. He was always the quintessential big brother, giving me rides to baseball games, advising me on how to not get caught drinking by my parents, letting me hang out with his friends and, most importantly, just teaching me about life. I could stop there, but that would leave out his effect on my current and future career.
When Jake got me my first marketing internship through a friend of his, I am not sure if he realized that this job would not only launch a very important part of life, but also (in my opinion) an entirely new side to our relationship. From that moment during my freshman year, he has been my mentor and guide through the process of figuring out what in the hell I want to do with my career. Whether it is taking a look at the website of a company with which I am interviewing, answering my admittedly annoying questions on GChat while he is trying to make a real living, or spitballing back and forth about business ideas, Jake has unknowingly fostered more growth in both my passion and ability for the work I do than I would have ever achieved on my own. My brother is smart, successful, and he is really cool. He has taught me how to decide what I want to do with my life, and a lot about the details and snags I will hit along the way. Most importantly, however, he has taught me how incredibly attentive and thankful I need to be every day for the other role model in my life, my dad.
As any of my friends know from when we drunkenly talk about our families, I could probably write a novel on how amazing my parents are, and, more specifically for this topic, how impressive of a man my father is. I was an angry and frustrating child, I yelled all the time, and I said hurtful things.
Coming from a far less stable family environment then I grew up in, and working with far less support, my dad was able to accomplish some amazing things, the extents of which I still realize more and more every day. When I was younger, I loved baseball. All I ever wanted to do was play catch on the weekdays after school, and I would have to wait until my dad got home to do it. Every day, without fail, my dad would pull up in his car around 5:15-5:30PM. I would be waiting outside with both of our baseball gloves, and immediately start begging him. Every day, without fail, he would say “Let me eat dinner and change clothes, then we will play catch bud”. He would eat, he would change into shorts and a shirt, and we would play catch, every single day. This story may not have a huge “WOW” factor, but I have yet to get to the key points. My dad has run a family owned company for 20-25 years. Since I can remember, he has worked every single weekday from 6:15am-5:15pm, usually working on weekends when he had time. Knowing this, the fact that he would play catch with me for at least 30 minutes every single night suddenly seems pretty f***ing amazing. If I worked an 11-hour day that started at 6am, and some kid was waiting in my driveway afterward asking me to play catch, I see no scenario in which I don’t either ignore or punch the kid. Maybe that’s a bit intense, but it is the truth.
My dad is not only incredibly successful, but he is the hardest worker I have ever met. I have never seen him complain, and I have never seen him fail. On top of all of this, he has (along with my mother) built a family that thrives on love and having fun with each other. He has taught me to be strong, not to make excuses, to work hard and be the best I can. He has also taught me to have fun, to do what I love with people that I love, and how to make myself happy by making other people happy.
Through these two men, I have learned lessons about work, life, family, and how all three of those can be balanced and combined into a very special existence. I may not know exactly what I want to do with my life, but thanks to these examples I know exactly the kind of man I want to be when I do it.