The older I get, the more I realize the younger me most likely would have found the older version of me to be boring.
When I was younger, I had this grand idea that when I was 40 I would be living the high life. Which meant, I would have a million dollars in the bank, a super huge house like the ones featured on MTV Cribs, and a super successful job being a power broker in politics. I wanted to run a political think tank and have my own political action committee (PAC). I was going to be successful.
Over the years, my version of success has definitely changed. It morphed as my priorities changed.
I found this amazing and wonderful person who agreed to be my wife. She showed me how to be patient, that money isn’t everything, and that life can be fulfilling when you have someone that loves you.
Having someone that wants to spend their life with you changes you. Suddenly it was we, not me. We started making plans for the future. I still loved politics but instead of Washington D.C. I was ok with it being closer to Minnesota. I was ok with not having a think tank or PAC.
So I got a job as a political fundraiser. I had the opportunity to speak to very important people in the political landscape. On a daily basis I was discussing fundraising opportunities with former presidents, first ladies, and a sitting vice-president of the US. I was working for people who were connected. I loved it.
Then came an election cycle which was grueling, long hours, day-after-day for months on end. People trying to get ahead in fundraising no matter what, saying things about people I knew not to be true, applying scare tactics to get every little dime out of people we could.
I became cynical. I became numb to what was going on. I literally saw the seedy underbelly of American politics and I didn’t like it. At the same time we were trying for our first child. After the election, I felt like my life was not where I wanted it to be. So I moved on.
I remember how I felt when I heard I was going to be a father for the first time. I would like to say it was happiness, and it was, although the happiness was mixed with sheer terror. I mean it wasn’t like I didn’t know it was a possibility of it happening.
It is just when it happened, the reality of the situation set in and again my life changed. My priorities changed. We went from two adults being able to go anywhere and everywhere alone to the three of us, one of which needed the other two’s constant attention.
There were nights of exhausted rocking back and forth, singing some made-up tune, trying to get this new little person to go to sleep.
The fear came from not knowing what he was going to get into. How do we balance everyone’s expectations like grandparents and other family? Another fear was were we going to come up with the amount of money required to take care of this little person?
At the same time, I was trying to continue to have a relationship with my wife, and not trying to fall asleep on the job.
In the end, I learned how to put myself last and yet still be happy. I learned that, yes, I might want time away from this little person, but when they fell asleep on your chest with that baby lotion smell, it was the greatest thing in the world.
I now have two kids, one 15, one 10, and I have to say without a doubt, that they are the best thing I have ever done in my life.
I am proud of both of them and the people they are becoming. I can’t wait to see what kind of men they become.
My younger self would say to my older self that I sold out. That I gave up on my dreams, and that I didn’t have the drive to succeed in life.
I don’t see it that way. I think that I have become exactly what I set out to be, successful.
It is definitely a different type of success. I see myself as a 43-year-old with a mortgage, two cars, a dog, two amazing kids, one beautiful, talented wife, and a job that I love.
I live in a community where we have friends, and where we feel like we can make a difference.
I am thankful for what I have become, and for all the blessings I have in my life.
Perspective is powerful.