This blog is a continuation of a series of one writer's experience with ADD/ADHD. Part 1 can be found here. Part 2 can be found here. Part 3 can be found here. Part 4 can be found here. Part 5 can be found here.
I experienced some level of depression, or some of my long-buried depression, when I was dismissed from law school. In my head, I had let every single person who saw me graduate college down. I have a little black book that was given to me as a graduation gift (I cherish these notebooks as gifts, by the way, I can never have too many) and so many well-wishes about my attending law school. He's going to be a lawyer! See you in law school! I'll need a lawyer soon! Congratulations on your future in law school, you'll do great!
And now I had to spend two weeks or so in the Valley sulking and doing my best to hide from myself.
But I came back to Houston, out of obligation more than anything, and because I had fallen in love with the city. I fell hook, line, and sinker for a "promotional marketing" company that was peddling tickets to golf courses and tickets to Rockets games no one except the lone 76er fan in Harris County would be interested in. Lasted a week there before I nope'd the hell out.
If you're a fresh-out-of-college kid and you see some of these companies that use coded language like "self-starters" "go-getters" "management path" be VERY wary. They're sales jobs. Not that sales jobs are bad, but when you're luring naive kids with these empty promises and cash payments, your business model sucks.
That was that. I was back in a similar position to the one I had been in only two years before: Hopes temporarily dashed and with a lot of leisure time. So I was applying everywhere, going to interviews, but nothing.
Then, I got lucky.
Sure, I believe that the harder I work, the luckier I get. I really believe that. But there's also an element of total chance that is always at play. I mean, part of the reason I don't play the lottery is I put myself in the shoes of not the winner but the guy behind him. How shitty must that feel? Knowing that you were one stoplight or one half-step shy of you becoming rich beyond your wildest dreams?
So chance exists. Right time, right place exists. And I was the beneficiary of that because I happened to run into an old friend in Houston, and I mention this because the chain of events that was unleashed after that point has in my belief led me exactly to this place, right here, right now.
Now, here's the thing you have to understand about the lovely city of Houston, Texas. It's the largest city in the south and fourth-largest in the United States. Just running into someone that you don't hang out with or work with is hard enough. It's not like you're in Austin or College Station where you had down to Sixth Street or Northgate and OH LOOK IT'S SUCH AND SUCH. Here, with all the restaurants, parks, events, movies, going on, it's much harder.
I found myself one afternoon in the Houston Galleria, the state's largest mall and the ninth-largest mall in Texas. Dreamland for me. 375+ stores, 2 million square feet, four floors, two hotels, sensory stimulation up the butthole. Navigating in that area on a Saturday afternoon is an exercise in frustration since everyone's getting on 610 and 59 (right outside the Galleria)
So imagine my surprise when I did all that and ran into an old friend from the Valley that I had no idea was working here, or that he was even in the area. Now, here's where it gets funny with how amazing that occurrence was. Not only did I run into him on a Saturday afternoon in a crowded mall, the following weekend he happened to have some errands in the Valley, where he chanced upon my parents who just happened to mention that I was looking for a job. Next thing I know, he shoots me a Facebook link to the staffing agency.
I mention all of this out of gratitude more than anything. Y'all remember how when President Obama was squaring up against Mitt Romney for the presidency and they had that whole "you didn't build that" debacle? I'm 100% on Obama's side on that one, and a large part of it is of course, my own collectivist Latino upbringing where we're all up in each other's businesses (for better or worse) and I believe that I am a product of that, too. Yes, I have done well for myself and you could argue that my parents didn't get me my jobs, my tios didn't get me my writing talent, I have done well enough as an individual but I recognize that it is because I had that foundation of support.
Back to my friend and the job.
It wasn't just a whatever job. It was working a corporate job in a building just a block away from the law school, and I started to make good money.
But several months into it, some old red flags started popping up again. High stress, high anxiety, long hours, no outlet for stress-relief. I'd start forgetting my badges at work, or wouldn't want to wake up in time to catch the bus and have to drive in to work, I'd have all these bad thoughts and think, "no, you're working a big-boy job right now, no one's going to listen to your stress bithchiness". I didn't want to go the same dark road I had gone down the year before. So instead I started getting more active. Soccer gave me the relief that alcohol and food couldn't give me. It still does to the very day. If I could play soccer on Sunday, I would be able to get through that week. Naturally, I thought, man, if only I had known this in law school, if only, if only, so many if onlys. But, for the present, running through Hogg Middle School or Reagan High, trying not to tweak my ankle playing on uneven ground, that helped still that storm inside my head.
I was also aided by the fact that in May of that year I had started my MFA program and so now I had one more stressor but also one redemption factor in the sense that I was going to get a gradate degree one way or the other. Then I had the bright idea to run the Tough Mudder. Woke up one day and said, I'ma run that.
For those of you thinking you're going to be able to run a 12-mile course without proper training and prep, good luck. I was a complete moron. In the month I took part in the race, I had clocked my fastest mile at 11:30, and my fastest 5k at 30 minutes. So in my "I'm not a fucking mathematician" logic I figured, I'd be okay with that because that would mean my body would just take a break at mile 3 and then restart.
Cribbing from a meme I saw recently: (I wasn't going to be okay with that.)
The Sunday before the Saturday race, I tweaked my ankle playing soccer. That Thursday, in order to make sure my body was up for the challenge the next day. I ended up hurting my groin. Still. I should have backed out, but I didn't. Saturday, I ran the race with a stranger-turned-friend.
Though, to say "ran" is being overly generous. I ran, walk, crawled, jumped, limped and bled over the course of 12 miles. If my friend hadn't been there, I'd have given up. At the end of the race, I had both elbows bleeding, both ankles twisted or strained, and goose-leg tendinitis in both knees. Naturally, I wasn't able to work out or play soccer that winter.
My contract with that company ended, and in a month, I had another opportunity at a different job. A small start-up where I'd meet some awesome people that I'm still friends with. I took a paycut, but now I was able to really see that I was helping people. I wasn't dealing with numbers, I was dealing with real-life humans and helping them get into college. There was stress, sure, but the stress was a piece of cake when compared to the stress at the previous company. Here, the CEO was two doors from my desk. Here, I felt validated by my peers. Here, I was able to listen to sports radio while I worked. Here, I had the opportunity to travel. On the surface, it was good.
Behind the scenes, not so much. Because I was still reeling from those distractions creeping up. Distractions that took a toll on my relationships with work, with my roommate, and with my own career, and I will discuss one more fall and rise next week...