by Darrin Schenck

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by Darrin Schenck

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Save your opinions about what life is supposed to look like, what I should do and all that kind of crap. I AM NOT INTERESTED. I don’t want to have a life that is mediocre, run of the middle, or “average” by any stretch of the imagination. I didn’t do it early on in my life, didn’t do it in my relationships, and I certainly am not doing it now. Examples of each are coming…
One of the reasons I write a blog and post stuff on Instagram is that I want to show that things can be different than “the norm”. I am trying to lead by example as often as I can. I turned fifty this year, and in some ways am in better shape now than I have been in the last ten years. I am running sprints, doing plyometric training like when I was 25, and have expanded into some new things I have never done before. I am at a good healthy weight, and my body looks good if I do say so myself. Meanwhile I have friends that are “shutting down” and avoiding physical struggle. They have a desk job and lead a sedentary lifestyle as they reach my age. NOT INTERESTED. I do play golf on occasion, but I don’t JUST play golf. And I sure as Hell ain’t playin’ pickleball just because it is an easy transition for my fellow racquetball players. I have been teasing the idea of Spartan Racing or maybe trail running…we’ll see.
I was watching the Joe Rogan podcast with Laird Hamilton, and their conversation kinda sparked my thoughts on this topic. Keep in mind this is two guys in their 50’s who still are going balls out, working out all the time, still getting better at their respective crafts. I am trying to do the same in my own way. And then, seemingly, there is everyone else. In the midst of the COVID19 pandemic, I have seen the majority of my friends and peers fade. They are taking the easy way out; playing video games to numb the mind and pass the time. Their diets are bad, they aren’t sleeping as well, and they are feeling depressed. NOT INTERESTED. I don’t want to live that way. I have slid into this lifestyle on occasion over the course of my life, allowed myself to get soft, distracted, and comfortable. Not the way the I want to live, just existing. I want more.
In my younger days, I didn’t want to follow the usual path that lots of people “think” you should. The typical thought process is that you go to high school, you go to college, you get a good job and stay with that company for a long time, you get married and have kids and buy a house, etc. etc…. It is what most people at least strive for, and many manage to check many of these boxes. We are conditioned to think that this is what we should do, and for some, it is just fine. I have friends that followed this path and lead happy lives. But I have a fair amount of friends that have followed that path and found themselves deep in debt, divorced, and feeling like they missed out on a bunch of other life experiences. Now to be clear, I was fortunate to have parents that supported my independent streak, allowed me to pursue things that most don’t without any true drama or consequences.
When I was in my early teens, I thoughts I was going to college on a wrestling scholarship. A neck injury during my freshman year ended that before it ever really got started. It did teach me enough about physical and mental discipline and sports as a vehicle for self exploration. I found the sport of racquetball not too long after this and I chose to pursue this at as high a level as possible. I was in college trying to balance two jobs, playing racquetball and going to class…basically in that order. I didn’t have a real goal for being there at school, I just was going through the motions. I knew this as not where I should be. I chose not to return to college after one year for the following reasons:
  • I didn’t have a clear end goal to work towards
Passion moves you through the tough times, and I didn’t have that for school
  • Racquetball held my attention
I knew that explore my potential within racquetball was
what I really wanted to be doing.
  • I trusted that I had a different path
I didn’t know where it would lead, but I knew I had to try.
I left school, my girlfriend, and my family’s expectations for me behind when I chose to leave college and chase after the racquetball dream. I wasn’t a pro level player at the time, but I was close enough to believe I could make it. Long story short, I did make it; I was in the top 20 in the world for three years. I didn’t make any money at it, I delayed finishing college, starting a career, etc. but I pursued the one thing I was sure about. I learned and grew as a person, traveled around the country, met an amazing array of people along the way. It forever changed my life, and was WELL WORTH pursuing. Not pursuing this dream would have been such a detriment to me that I shudder to think who I would be now if I didn’t. I knew that going into that journey, and that pushed me through the tough times.
In my relationships, I started out doing the same thing that everyone else did. I had a few girlfriends during high school, and then when I went to college I met someone that I was really serious about. We dated throughout the year I was in college, and for the year after. Once she graduated and took a job in Hawaii, that relationship ended and I moved on. I met someone else and was in a five year relationship with her. In a similar pattern, she went away to school in Colorado, and that was the end of that relationship. I had two choices: Move with her or continue to pursue my goals in racquetball. I chose the latter. After that relationship ended, I decided that I would not focus on one person (other than myself) for a while. This kicked off another phase of my life that ended up being a 12 year run of being single and having as much fun in the dating world that one person should ever have.
I did not want to have kids, so I really never saw that there was a timeline I needed to follow. My wife didn’t want to have kids either, and we discussed this on date number two. No reason to waste each other’s time if we are not on the same page. We discuss everything in this same up front and candid manner, and it is the key to our happiness as a couple. We were together for five years before I proposed, even though I knew after our first date that she was the one. I got married at age 48 for the first time. Certainly not the norm, but as I said before…NOT INTERESTED.
My last example is the lifestyle we are trying to put in place. My wife went back to nursing school and is now a Registered Nurse. Our ideal lifestyle for the near future is for us to be completely debt free (house paid off too) and for her to be able to do travel nursing assignments in different cities of our choosing during the summer months.
This would:
a. Scratch our itch to travel and explore other places
b. Get out of Phoenix during the record breaking summer heat months
c. Possibly allow us to put our home on VRBO and make money while we are elsewhere.
d. Support my fly fishing addiction much more efficiently (Denver here we come!)
Not everyone strives to pay their house off and be debt free. Too many people want to drive a new car every two or three years, live in a fancy neighborhood, living in a house bigger than they need, take a fancy vacation once a year, etc. As Dave Ramsey says: Live like no one else so later you live like no one else! Sacrifice now and really focus on the short term problems to resolve them. Then you will have total autonomy to do whatever you wish from then on. We are very close to pulling this off.
Here is the takeaway for this blog….MAKE YOUR OWN RULES. That is it. You are not…NOT obligated to do anything that most people do. If you want to backpack through Europe for two years, living in hostels and scrounging up enough money to get by, great. DO IT. If you want to couch surf with friends for two years while you start a company and get it off the ground, then go do that. Denying yourself the chance to do what you really want to do is crippling. You’ll end up a bitter, pissed off person that regrets never taking the leap. I didn’t make it to number 1 in the world, but that didn’t matter. I did the journey, and the experiences and lessons from that were well worth the effort and the deviation from the norm.
Do your thing or die filled with regret…these are your only two option.
 
I wish you luck in your endeavors.

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