Happiness: a Mental or emotional state of well-being.
Two years out of college, I still lived in my parents’ house.
I worked at Foot Locker, with a redneck, closet racist boss in his 30s who had a creepy affection for young girls in their teens (or barely out of their teens) who he kept hiring. I drove a cheap $700 car I’d bought from a newspaper ad. I cashed my checks at a pawn shop that had bulletproof glass at the counter. I moved out of my parents’ place to a studio apartment and ate microwaved frozen meals 3 times a day.
Later, I worked at Bally Total Fitness and met a lot of girls there. I got to use the gym for free. The commission checks were better there than at Foot Locker. I still lived in my parents’ home though, and still drove that same car.
The car was missing an exhaust pipe. I went to see a girl once, and called her when I was pulling up to her house. She replied, “I know you’re outside. I heard you coming up the street.”
I hadn’t achieved anything in the world of basketball yet. Most people I met assumed I’d just work at Bally, Foot Locker or at some other job, making enough to get by, and that would be the end of it.
From the looks of things, they had no logical reason to believe otherwise.
Then I “made it” to pro basketball. Started a YouTube channel and a website. Built a brand. Started a business. Gained some fans. I even get paid to stand on stages and tell this story along with the lessons learned from it.
Now, I have this great view off of my balcony (never had either of those growing up!). I live in a place where people plan to come for Spring Breaks and vacations. My car’s exhaust system doesn’t announce itself from blocks away anymore. I don’t have a boss. People who’ve never met me feel as if they know me from watching and reading my stuff.
I’m successful by my own definition: I set goals, and am taking action to achieve them.
Am I happier? Well, let’s look at the dictionary definition. Have I achieved a higher state of well-being?
Yes, I have. But some things are gone that I’ll never get back.
I’ll never again feel like I have nothing to lose. Success in itself requires maintenance.
I can’t draw Motivation from knowing people don’t expect much from me. There are expectations now. When someone buys a pass to event to hear you to speak, buys your book, or solicits your consulting services, a lot is expected.
I can’t eat frozen microwaveable meals all day anymore, or eat a ton of Skittles and Twizzlers, or go a full day without promoting myself in some form online. Knowledge is a burden.
There was a certain freedom I enjoyed when I was broke, unknown, and not doing anything that would have been deemed “success.” Back then, everything mattered, but at the same time, nothing mattered.
There was no expectation. Much less ego. Fewer responsibilities. My facial hair didn’t grow, so I didn’t have to shave more than once per week. I didn’t have to write a $1,000 check just for the privilege of moving into or out of a building. What I owned could fit into a couple Nike duffel bags. Now I have more Nike duffel bags, that I got for free, than I have arms to use them on.
Not that any of this is me complaining. I created this life. Hell, I predicted it before it even happened. None of this happened by accident or came as a surprise.
None of it.
It’s just different. Sometimes, when I slow down enough to really put myself back in 2005, it’s surreal that it’s now real, compared to then.
Twenty-three-year-old me would be excited about 2017 me — overjoyed would be more like it. I wonder, though, how he would feel about being in a dark tunnel with no light at the end. Wasn’t there supposed to be a big celebration and congratulations somewhere? My invite must have been misplaced.
But I don’t have time to look for it. Back to work.