Updated: Aug 24, 2020
I’m moving today. I’m making my return to Ohio (cue the LeBron ‘I’m Coming Home’ commercial) after a very arduous year in North Carolina. This state had been on my radar since I was just a young chap on a vacation in Oak Island. I thought it was marvelous; there was so much to do (and, in hindsight, I don’t think there really was, but rather I was a 12-year-old kid enamored by the ocean and warm weather) and a life outside of Ohio sounded fairly extravagant.
But as the old cliche goes, sometimes the grass isn’t always greener. I moved site-unseen and blind with my girlfriend and pup. I was incredibly eager to start down a new path. Upon graduating from Cleveland State, I had struggled to land a full-time job and ended up back at Cleveland State to pursue my Master’s with a focus in sport management; I since transferred to (and graduated from) Tiffin University to obtain my MBA in Leadership & Change. I work in recreation; driven by the opportunity to impact a community and be remembered, I absolutely love the profession (yeah, yeah: “you’re such a millennial”).
My new path centered on taking my first full-time position (while I was at Cleveland State, I was working two part-time jobs) in a county parks and recreation department. It was essentially my dream job: Athletic Coordinator. I had fallen in love with recreation while I was an intramural supervisor at Cleveland State. The atmosphere was incredible, the people were unforgettable, and the experience really changed my outlook of life.
When I arrived at the university, I was determined to work in professional sports. I thought that my dream job of becoming a pro sports GM (no preference of sport) was attainable. I still believe it was. I’m basically the lower-middle class version of Dave Burd (if you haven’t watched the show Dave, pause here, watch the first episode, tweet at me – @40_williams – why you were wrong before, then come back and continue reading). I can acknowledge that I have incredible self-belief and while some could call it cocky or conceited, I think it’s what drives me to become exceptional.
While there, though, the root of my determination changed fairly quickly; I had to take an internship and was fortunate enough to land a position with a minor league baseball team in the Cleveland area. The experience was less than ideal. The long hours, commute, and lack of substantial compensation made for a stressful few months; so much so that I’d venture to say that there hasn’t been a time in my life where I struggled more. It was rough, and while I wanted to take positives from it, when I looked back on my experience, all I could say was “this isn’t for me.” Mind you, this was my second-to-last semester. So I became self-reflective. I had to. What did I want out of life? Did I want to suffer through a shitty sales job, selling tickets to clubs and suites that I couldn’t afford myself (nor justify ever purchasing anyway – put me in the upper deck, I’m good)? Or did I want to actually feel a sense of purpose?
I chose purpose. And, eventually, I chose to go to a new state where I had no friends, but also the opportunity to start something great. You see, my end goal is to become a parks and recreation director. This position was supposed to jumpstart that.
It didn’t. The blind, site-unseen move resulted in an hour-long commute to and from work (definitely going to miss my house, though). My go-for-it, efficiency-driven personality clashed with those who had been in the department a little longer and did things “their way.” And ultimately, I lost some passion for athletics. The unique structure that the department operated with – mixed with the long ass commute – allowed for less face-to-face interaction with my staff, a factor which I have now identified as a vital component of an ideal job. This is no knock on the department, but more a knock on the fit (I am to Jordan Love as the department is to the Packers – just doesn’t make much sense).
You’re probably wondering why the f*ck I’m telling you this, right? I mean, why would you care about my (admittedly synopsized) life story?
The answer is fairly simple: the experiences – good and bad – I have endured impact what I do for The Cut and what I aspire to do in life. Becoming a parks and recreation director is my career goal; one that would give me the fulfillment I desire in my life. But that fulfillment means nothing if I can’t enjoy life, itself. And what I enjoy is providing you all with unique, incredible content. I relish in the quest to be the best fantasy football/NFL Draft podcast on the market. I love the idea that I could potentially be writing articles that thousands of people will read. I, oddly enough, thoroughly enjoy doing the research to help you all win your fantasy leagues or simply bring you to new perspectives.
Why would a kid from a northeast Ohio city that no one has ever heard of (or simply confuses with an amusement park in Pennsylvania) ever be the best at any of those things? Also a simple answer: because I grind. I gutted out incredibly difficult experiences. I had a legitimate mid-life crisis at the age of 22. I uprooted a fairly comfortable life for an uneasy one (and am grateful for the experience, despite all the negative words I just wrote). And I’m still here. I’m still pushing forward because that’s what I was taught to do, that’s what I demand of myself, and my best is what you all deserve.
So today, I move to Columbus, Ohio. I start a new journey to be the greatest in the field of recreation, but I also embark upon a quest to absolutely kill it for you all this year. Maybe in five years, my career goal will change. Maybe I will impact enough lives doing this to justify jumping ship. I know I have a ton of room to grow; as a podcaster, writer, and even just as a man. I also know if I were a betting man, I’d bet on myself. And before I sign off, I want to leave you with one question: do you want to purchase a seat on the bandwagon or are you going to risk trying to hop on later? Because I promise it’ll start to get full soon.