Monday, August 8, 2011

On July 21, 2011, I was more than I thought I could be!

Good evening everyone,

"I want one moment in time, when I am more than I thought I could be, when all of my dreams are a heartbeat away, and the answers are all up to me. Give me one moment in time, when I am bracing with destiny, and in that one moment of time, I will feel....I will feel...eternity."

That line was brought to you by Whitney Houston, one of the best-known voices from my generation. I could quote some of the songs that have defined an era: "Saving All My Love For You," "Didn't We Almost Have It All," "So Emotional," and "I Will Always Love You." That was theme for the 1988 Summer Olympics held in Seoul, South Korea. And the video captured the raw angst, the pain, and the glory that for any competitor lasts forever. No matter how old you get, or what Olympics you competed in, people will always remember what you did. "There's that gold medal winner," is a sentence that follows you the rest of your life.

The more I think about the Olympics, in many ways, these past four years have been a tournament that I have trying so hard to win. But my ultimate prize was not made of chemicals. And it certainly wasn't presented to me by any official at the games. My "prize" if you will wasn't something tangible. Not money, not love, but a job. I wanted to work more than anything else in the world at a full-time job.

We don't have to open up the local newspaper or turn on the news to see what is happening in the economy. Every time I check Yahoo! or the New York Times, it's on the front page. The images are so ingrained into our psyche that's just so hard to forget. Stockbrokers with their hands on their faces, so exasperated. The grim feelings of hope loss, desperation taking its place. Living on the suburbs of Long Island, a mere 45 minutes away from New York City, you have access to all the financial data you want. But these days you may not want to see it and know what's going on. After all, why ask the question if you know what the answer is going to be?

I graduated with my journalism degree, and although I still love writing (and do freelance and this blog of course), I grew disillusioned with the opportunities that were out there. And after having a rough experience with attorneys, I decided that I had to make some goals and stick to them. I wanted to work for the federal government. I had tried applying in the private sector, and never raised the white flag, despite the rejections and efforts which I felt at times were futile. And I admit, I am a very unique person in the sense that sometimes it does take me a little longer to play "catch up." I have minor characteristics of Asperger's and at times I may learn a little slower than the rest of the world. But no one, under any circumstances, should question my heart. That's the one thing that has grown tremendously over these past few years.

There is a theory that hard work is its own reward. Looking for a job in many ways is like that. The local classifieds have shriveled up, whereas at one time you may have had five or six pages of ads from companies that were more than willing to take a chance on you. Now you're lucky if it's one or two. I would stay up until the wee hours of the morning, being a night owl. I'd send out fifty resumes a day via Monster, and Craigslist. I'd research the names of companies that ran advertisements, even when they did not want to be found. And sometimes I'd get lucky...only to discover that my message was returned with a scammer e-mail, saying there was a personal assistant job for me working from home for some reclusive billionaire. Good luck with that.

I had interviews these past two months with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), one of the biggest federal agencies located in Bethesda, Md. Although I was very excited about the chance to meet with representatives of that organization, I always told myself to stay grounded. Interviews in this age come few and far between. Now of course, you want to put your best foot forward: best suit, confident personality. But I'd be lying if I thought in the back of my mind that things would materialize. After all, even the most confident of people would tell you that the worst thing that show itself is arrogance. Confidence is one thing. Feelings of entitlement are another.

And on July 21, I did it. Walt Whitman might have said it best: "O Captain, O Captain, our fearless trip is done. The prize we sought has been won." I got the job! After four years, one journey is over, and another one soon begins. I don't mean the journey down the New Jersey Turnpike to I-95 via the Fort McHenry Tunnel, looping around the Capital Beltway and merging with I-270 north. The greatest journey of my life is about to start. Being on my own, having a chance to live on my terms because I am a person who stutters and no one holds me back. No one is going to tell me what I can and cannot do.

What bothers me is that many times people are quick to say things to the effect of "I want to thank all of you who hated me and told me I would never get to this point." In my opinion, all you did is just completely devalue yourself as a person. Who cares what others may say? YOU have to, make that NEED to, hold yourself to higher standards. I am not interested in "haterade," or giving the "haters" their due. Life is much more important than that. I can go at my own pace, and not worry about what others may think of me.

I do give all the praise and glory to the National Stuttering Association for this achievement. I am very honored to advocate on their behalf and will continue to do so until the day I am no longer on this earth.

I hope those reading this understand that my blog entries will be a little more wide now in terms of when I can write. I am not going away, but even so while I am in another state, I will continue to share my thoughts, just with not as much frequency. But if anyone out there sees this, understand one thing: Nothing is ever impossible. Sometimes it may take four years, or longer. But I am now ready for the next challenge. More so than I have ever been in a while. You too, will be ready. Your time will come.

It ain't about how fast you get there. It ain't about what's waiting on the other side. It's the climb.