We often live viewing our lives as normal and routine. We are so used to what we do, how we think, and who we surround ourselves with that our lives can turn into a cycle. It is easy to look at our lives and tell ourselves that we are better off than everyone else. The pressure society presents often leaves us with a perception on how our life needs to be.
To put it simply, growing up in Southern California was the epitome of this. I viewed myself as normal, and my life as typical, because that is truly what it was. I was born on November 18, 1993 and grew up with my mother, father and younger brother. As a young boy, my interests included meeting new friends at school and playing basketball. From an early age, I aspired to be a varsity high school basketball player. I dedicated most of my free time to developing my basketball prowess. Everything seemed so normal back then, and life was so simple. But today, people don’t associate the word “normal” with my story.
As high school came to fruition, the normality of how I viewed myself began to diminish. Falling short of my basketball dreams, experiencing verbal bullying and hardships with romantic relationships were just the beginning of what was to come. Month after month, I began losing control of who I was and what my vision was to be. Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and stress intruded my life. I lost friends, confidence and enjoyment. I became decimated by depression. Years of struggling with finding myself and purpose became too difficult to endure. The depression had me alone and lost. During the middle of my high school career, I attempted taking my life on two different occasions.
For months, I was in and out of local mental hospitals, as the doctors would prescribe different medications. No progress was made until the last one when I was notified from my family and the school district of the most staggering news I would ever hear: I would be sent to a residential treatment center out of state for one year.
I arrived at the treatment center on Halloween night of 2010. The transition was nearly unbearable. Leaving family, friends and home had me struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel. With little freedom on campus and a dramatic lifestyle change, opportunities to improve seemed bleak.
However, the experience ended up being a blessing in disguise, as I met many friends on campus who were also struggling, which made me feel less alone. The staff, teachers and therapists had an intimate relationship with me, and impacted my life beyond measures. Over time, I realized what I had done, and how my prior decisions were selfish. I realized how much heartache I caused so many people, especially my family. Most importantly, I learned that I was my own worst enemy…and was facing a battle against myself by the way I was thinking and approaching challenging situations. I was inspired to utilize the new lifestyle at the treatment center as a positive opportunity to change as a person, as I longed to find the happy self I once was.
Over the course of the year, I did just that. I slowly began climbing out of depression and defeat the inner demons. I graduated on October 14, 2011 and returned home to my family. Despite numerous people doubting my future and ability to thrive academically, I decided to apply to universities. I moved to Tucson, Arizona to attend the University of Arizona. I spent five years there, majoring in Marketing and Entrepreneurship in the Eller College of Management.
My collegiate experience was fantastic and so memorable. I built a strong network and many friends. Joining clubs and leveraging resources were important. But being a part of Kappa Alpha Order would turn out to be one of the greatest choices I made. This experience helped me reinvent myself and become the outgoing, friendly person I aspired to be.
I would graduate from the University of Arizona in May of 2017. I am now 27 years old, and work in corporate sales full time in Northern California. The most important aspect in my life now is my faith in God. I was never one to be interested in God for the first 22 years of my life. In spring of 2016, when a couple of unique circumstances came about, my life forever changed. During that time, I met a man named Bobby on an airplane who spoke the gospel to me for the first time in my life. Two days later, I met the most beautiful, charming girl, Vanessa, on a cruise ship who shared about her faith. We talked for nearly six hours at the back of the ship about life, our past struggles and what it means to have faith in God. She is a woman of faith, and helped trigger my curiosity in God even further then what Bobby already sparked. Vanessa would turn out to be the one, and the woman who I am now married to! The impact from Bobby and Vanessa on that vacation was astonishing, but so simple, as it was an act from God. I viewed that situation as God’s plan, putting those two people in my path for a real purpose. I knew it would be foolish for me to overlook and think nothing of it. Since this life-changing realization and learning more about who God actually is, I have put my faith and trust in Him. The Lord is my Savior and is the source of hope in this life and eternity. Even when I fall short in the day to day life, His grace, forgiveness, and sacrifice conquers all. I wish for nothing more than for people to know Him, believe in Him, and trust Him with their life. I didn’t believe at first, but I’m grateful to God, and surrender my life to His plan.
I enjoy living in Northern California and continuing to pursue the joys of adventures, sports, traveling, and writing. I continue to trust God in knowing that I fit into the will God has for my life. If I accomplish nothing else in this life, I hope to do four things in this order: love God, love other people, share the gospel with others in hope that they will believe, and continue to carry out something I truly enjoy doing; helping people make mental health a priority.
My mission is to help students and young professionals make mental health a priority. Through speaking, writing, and interpersonal relationships, my hope is that progress can be made. One desire I have for the future is to create a ministry bridging faith in Christ and the importance of mental health. It’s always an adventure to see what God has in store, and I have confidence that His light will continue to shine amidst the struggles of this world. From supporting others with their mental health or positioning me to share the good news God promises, my goal is to be obedient to Him and love others along the way!
I look forward to connecting with you about supporting your campus, company, church, or organization in the near future.