I recently attended the TedX BarryU event in Miami. I had the opportunity to hear a man named, William Cullen Mccormick Jr. speak. His speech was very moving and it was inspired by the connections he has made in his life. In his share, he explained that he carries around with him a baseball signed not by famous players but by those who made great impacts in his life. He encouraged us in the audience to do something similar and that has been ruminating in the back of my mind ever since.
If I were to have a signed baseball, this is who would be on it. If someone is not listed below it is only because these are just my heavy hitters. The many not on this list are all a part of my all-star team and I wouldn’t be who I am today without them. These heavy hitters I’ve decided to list as best I could, based on the linear progression of my life. I’ve omitted names for the protection of the anonymity of these individuals. Although I suppose it wouldn’t be too hard to figure out who some of these people are. I hope they do not mind the shout-out.
- My first best friend in elementary school – we had a shared sexual orientation at the time and it made being me possible for a few more years before I felt I needed to completely hide that part of myself.
- My 5th grade English teacher – she had us read The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton which influenced me in so many ways from that point forward. This cultivated my love of reading which has been transformative throughout my life.
- My first manager at Arbys – she taught me a work ethic that I continue to carry with me today.
- A social studies teacher at the vocational school I attended – he impressed upon me the value of savings for retirement. I’ve put money toward my 401k every since I started my first career at 17 thanks to his teachings.
- My first therapist – she helped me come out of the closet at the age of 23/24 and admit that I was gay. She also showed me the power of relaxation meditation on my panic attacks.
- My sister and every dog I’ve ever had – they have shown me the meaning of unconditional love.
- My female high-school best friend’s brother’s girlfriend – she convinced me to go work for the company I still work for today which has afforded me countless opportunities. 22 years and going strong.
- A co-worker from Indianapolis I worked with on my first overseas trip – he encouraged me to finish my first bachelors degree. Education has been a big part of my life ever since.
- An ex-girlfriend who saw me at my worst in recovery in Ohio – she taught me through her actions that I was lovable regardless of my many flaws.
- Two friends I met in Gay AA in Ohio – one who influenced my move to Florida. The other put a mirror up for me and helped me begin to have better self-awareness and see my many character defects. She also helped me identify some mental health issues.
- My second sponsor in Florida – she taught me how to use a 4th step inventory on the spot to look at my part to defuse volatile emotions. She inspired me to want to be more thoughtful of others’ needs.
- My current therapist – she has taught me about mindfulness, has brought about awareness of self and others that I’ve never been capable of before, she was patient with me until I was willing to listen about getting medicated to assist with my moods and anxiety, she has helped me to feel connected, heard, loved, of value, inspired, and encourages me along my path to the many goals I have set for myself. This support and work we have done has enabled me to get sober, quit smoking, get a master’s degree, lose 40+ pounds, begin selling my art, and now working towards a Ph.D.
I am beyond blessed for all the influential people in my life and particularly for these heavy hitters. I look forward to seeing who comes into my life and what impact that will have. And I look forward to seeing how I can impact others.
Who would you have sign your baseball?