I saw something this week that took me back to a dark time and place in my life. It was still a driving force within and I didn’t realize why.
First of, you can read throughout both of my blogs how much I enjoyed my time at WU. I rode through an empty campus this weekend and reminisced over the great times I had there and how it made me into the man I am today.
I had a key happening to me that may seem small to others, but yielded large results.
You see, during that time, I had deep insecurities about my looks. I didn’t think women thought I was good looking or sexy enough. I wasn’t rich, athletic or in a fraternity. I was more embraced than I ever was in high school but I still had inner demons to fight.
Fast forward to a popularity contest that was had by a sorority. They had a calendar contest, had around 30 guys that people could place money in and vote for. Then the top 12 were chosen based on that money.
41 year old me knows that was silly then. 20 year old me felt excluded and even less valued because I wasn’t even asked. It was your classic “Mean Girls” type of stunt.
I certainly don’t think the sorority members did it to hurt feelings, especially them being 20 years old. But man that really hurt and lit a fire in me that burned for years. I wasn’t very confident but I knew I looked better and had more value that half of those guys that were chosen by a popular vote and money that resembles our election process today.
I never approached these ladies until recently and I didn’t use force nor anger. Too much time had passed, although I still felt some type of way when I saw that calendar again. I may not remember everything about my WU days, but I remember the feeling in my stomach I felt when I wasn’t chosen for that calendar. It took me back to my dark high school days and it made me feel undervalued.
Fortunately I don’t stay oppressed. I continued to work hard and excel as a student, person and man. The last two years of my college career saw me winning 2nd place in a men’s pageant, winning Homecoming King runner-up, becoming a renowned slam poetry artist, and the lead speaker at Winthrop’s Open House. I used that omission to fuel my remaining college years and the beginning of my professional career.
I look back to that moment 22 years later and what I have accomplished since then and I am extremely blessed. I turned pain and exclusion into triumph and continue to do so today. That’s how I got into the role I currently hold at work. I now advise and mentor others who are experiencing what that sorority made me experience in 1998.
Point being is, please treat others as you wish to be treated. Also, stay motivated to excel. Someone will value you and see your greatness. Remember Michael Jordan, JK Rowling, George Lucas and Oprah are many successful figures that experienced that pain. Use it to rise higher than ever before!