When I was in high school I was kind of a typical guy on the surface. I hid all of the problems I had at home. I put on a confident face at school, but not fake confidence – it was real. I was lucky to have it for no reason at all. Maybe it was arrogance. I played every sport the school offered, but I was best at wrestling. I went on to become a state runner-up my senior year of high school in the largest school district in the state. Looking back on it, I’m not sure at what point I decided I would try so hard at sports. I think it was an outlet for everything else going on in my life. I think it was all for me, something for me to be proud of and to focus on.
I also found pride in my school work and honestly I think people thought I was a dumb ass because they associated me with they typical jock stereotype. I made all A’s. The truth is, I didn’t even hang out or associate with many other athletes. In fact my two of my three best friends were a Brazilian and a guy from Holland. For some reason I never associated with most of the people I grew up with. I think I had a natural aversion to rednecks and ignorance – even when I didn’t know it at the time.
Really, all this is inexplicable. I have no reason to be this way. I was raised by two parents that didn’t graduate high school. My dad worked doing manual labor and we accepted welfare and food stamps. Both of my parents had trouble with addictions. The year before I left for college I bought my own groceries. In fact, I had planned to just pay for college all on my own, but I didn’t have to do it alone. Truth be told someone, for some reason saw something in me and helped.
I’m not sure how he found me and he never asked for anything in return. His daughter was in the band and he was a prominent member of the community. I can only assume he saw me playing sports and somehow found out my background and decided he wanted to help. He took me under his wing and mentored me. He found money to cover my first year of college (scholarships from people in the community), he found money to pay for my school supply (including a computer), and offered me advise I couldn’t get elsewhere.
I know that someday I will do the same thing for someone else. I know that I appreciate what he did for me more than I have ever expressed to him. Maybe I should tell him, honestly, but I feel like there is some unspoken thing between us that it doesn’t have to be said. At the time I didn’t even appreciate the help as much as I should have, but looking back – I can’t believe how fortunate I was and I know that it changed my life forever. It changed my spirit and how I see being a good man and a good person. I hope I can do the same thing for someone else, so selflessly, someday. If you have the opportunity to help someone, like I was helped, you should too. He may never know it, but his generosity really made the world a better place, even if it was only one person at a time. I’ll continue that and make sure his investment was a good one.