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Inspiration, Oh F**k

Oh F**k

Moments with Jeff Seymour

“how fast can you get me out of here?”

Jeff Seymour is currently working for the Securitas company, manning the Lincoln building in Columbus, Ohio. There’s something about Jeff, a unique sincerity and genuine warmth that he exudes. This is what has allowed him to be on a first name basis with every person who walks through the front door of his building, never letting their name leave his lips without a comforting smile or a knowing head nod. When I first asked him to do an interview regarding his success story, he seemed a bit taken aback. He later explained his hesitation, confiding in me that he had never pictured his life story as “successful” and how he’d spent a good portion of the night before our interviewing racking his brain over what he was going to say. Little did he know that his success story was on the tip of his tongue the entire time, waiting for the right moment to be told. This is that moment. 

Oh F**k Moment

“Now, I have a few of those…” Jeff chuckles. 

It was supposed to be his senior year in college. As it happens with the majority of us, it didn’t look so good in regard to graduating on time. Jeff was lost. He explained to me how he’d gone into college ready to set an example, the oldest of his siblings, an heir of responsibility the others couldn’t quite understand. He had gone in with the intent of being an electrical engineer.

“My first trimester I dropped calculus,” Jeff started. Same, Jeff, same. 

“My second trimester I dropped physics,” he continued, shaking his head. 

By the time his junior year rolled around, Jeff was on academic suspension.

Fresh off his academic suspension, Jeff was back in school for what was supposed to be his senior year, well aware that he needed to get everything figured out. He needed to find the major that suited him, fix his grade point average, get a final graduation date set, all amongst the unspoken pressure of maintaining a good image for his family, who he did not want to disappoint. The happiness of others quickly shadows our own. Feeling confused, depressed and anxious (understandably so), Jeff knew he needed to get out of his current situation. 

“We had two landlines in the hallway of our dorm room. I went out in the hallway, sat down, opened the yellow pages up in my lap and grabbed the phone. I dialed the number to the US Airforce. No answer,” Jeff held up a finger, so I knew that wasn’t the end of it. 

“The next number I dialed was to the US Marine Corp,” Jeff said, a little smile on his face. This time, they answered. 

“How fast can you get me out of here?” was the first thing Jeff said to the recruiter on the other end. By that time the next day Jeff was no longer a college student. Rather, he was a new member of the marine corp. 

In his “oh f**k” moment, Jeff admittedly had no idea what he was doing. He knew he wasn’t happy and was willing to try anything in order to change his current situation. Coincidentally (or not so much so), Jeff was one of the top recruits of his class, quickly took on leadership positions in every role he partook as a marine and loved every second of it. 

Come to find out, his grandfather had also served, a fun fact his mother had never shared with him until after Jeff himself had joined. It had been a part of him all along. It seems he was bound to find his place, no matter what detours he took along the way. 

Moment of Success

“It was magical,” was the only way Jeff knew how to describe it. 

Working part time at his kids’ grade school, Jeff also volunteered as an assistant coach on his son’s flag football league. Listening to Jeff describe this rag tag group of six- and seven-year old’s out on the field was comical, as I know it all too well. Whether it was oneself or a younger sibling, we’ve all seen the attention spans of six-year old. Mix that with the undeterred passion to win of a head coach/father and we’re bound to have some fun. 

Jeff described how the team had made it to a pretty big game in their area in California. They all knew they were going in as the underdog team and found out last minute that the head coach and his son weren’t going to make it to the game. 

“So, these kids are on the field, knowing they’re the underdog, a new coach in front of them, no idea what to expect,” Jeff sets the scene. He got into the huddle with these little football stars, hyping each one of them up. Somewhere between the chanting and high-fiving, Jeff was able to pull an energy out of them that they hadn’t seen before. Their underdog team managed to pull off a big win that day and advance to the next game. 

However, this isn’t the moment of success for Jeff’s fleeting moment as head coach. This is where I would like to introduce Flint. Flint was one of the smallest boys on the team, his favorite position being anywhere on the field he was able to sit and pick grass. He’d been such a bother to the regular head coach that he had decided to put Flint right in the middle of the defensive line, alongside the biggest kids on the team. Jeff shook his head disapprovingly at this decision. “You don’t argue with the coach of your son’s team, though,” he said, hands up in resignation. 

In his moment as head coach, Jeff decided to pull Flint aside.

“Look at that guy in front of you,” Jeff said to Flint. “He’s big, round and slow! I know you’re so much faster than he is, so this is what I want you to do. I want you to speed around him as soon as you see the ball move and I want you to take not just one, but both flags off the quarterback,” Jeff directed. Flint looked back at him, blinked, mouth guard swinging from the side of his mouth. He headed back to his position on the field. 

“He sacked the quarterback four times in a row after that!” Jeff said, smile so big and contagious on his face that I could help but be just as proud as he was. He described Flint zipping right around the guy in front of him, sliding in from every direction and ripping the flags off the quarterback while everyone was high fiving and cheering. “It was magical,” Jeff said, wrapping up the famous victory for this little league flag football team.

After this, Flint’s mom approached Jeff. She thanked him for what he’d done, for giving her son a chance that the other coach hadn’t been able to. Knowing Jeff was only working part time at the school, she mentioned a job opening in security for the nuclear plant that her husband currently worked at. This turned out to be a job of Jeff’s dreams. He was still able to describe every detail of the building, painting a picture so vivid that I swore I’d been there before. That is, until I remembered I had never been to California. He could tell me every code he was made to memorize, describe every piece of his uniform, every position he held there.  

All from taking one moment to talk to flint. All from one moment of success.

 Jeff’s moments of success have nothing to do with monetary value. They have nothing to do with power or fame. They have everything to do with passion, pride and true happiness. 

This is the definition of success that we so often overlook, when in fact it is the truest form. Thank you so much Jeff, for your complete honesty and willingness to take the time out of your day to share your truly incredible, and ever so successful, life story with me. Words cannot describe how grateful I am to have been able to hold this interview with you.  

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The Big “A”

I’m not going to lie, the last week has been a struggle. There’s a perfectly logical and scientific explanation as to why I feel like this, but to me it just seems like I just feel like crap for reasons that I can’t explain. 

Struggling with anxiety is simply a pain in the ass. The thing is, I’m a very put together person. I’m the definition of Type A, a huge perfectionist, acutely aware of time (how much or little I have of it), and competitive (especially with myself). Although these characteristics sound great on a resume, they are the absolute worst in real life. 

I push myself harder than anyone else does. I turn everything into a competition. When I first realized I had anxiety issues, I read up on how to control them. One of the most common recommendations was to get into a workout routine. What started off as being a half an hour of cardio to clear my head and take a break from my day, quickly turned into a question of how much longer could I push myself to stay on the treadmill? Could I increase the incline? Could I go faster? Could I outrun the person next to me? Before I knew it, I was spending an hour and a half in the gym and would feel guilty if I didn’t work out as hard as I had the last time. 

So that’s me in a nutshell, lol. I have an incredible ability to get into my own head and set expectations for myself much higher than what anyone else expects from me. 

Although this is a good quality in some aspects of my life, it resulted in a very intense case of anxiety. To be honest, I didn’t even know what anxiety really was or what the side effects looked like until I was sitting on a bed in Urgent Care, convinced I was having a heart attack. When all my tests came back normal, the physician explained that all of the symptoms I was having were indicative of both a heart attack and an anxiety attack. Anxiety attacks literally mimicked the feeling of a heart attack. How effed up is that??? 

After learning about that I realized I had been showing signs of anxiety for a long time. I couldn’t make it through a night without having a nightmare. I still can’t most nights. It got to the point where as a 22-year-old, I couldn’t sleep without a light on at night. I know how dumb that sounds, but I can’t even describe to you the experience of waking up repeatedly each night, drenched in sweat, opening your eyes to nothing but pitch black, remnants if whatever was just terrifying you in your subconscious mind still lingering in your conscious mind. I showed less intense signs like biting the inside of my cheek throughout the day, grinding my teeth, not being able to accomplish any one task because I was too distracted by the thought of the other tasks I had ahead. 

Another fun fact about myself, I don’t like to ask for help. On anything. Going back to my perfectionist personality trait, I like to handle everything myself. When I’m feeling times of extreme stress, I don’t like to tell anyone. Reaching out to people is hard for me in general, so reaching out to someone about something I really struggle with is basically unfathomable to me. I learned pretty quickly that by trying to handle my anxiety by myself, I actually just made it worse. 

I used other methods. I took to working out (casually this time), meditation, reading and even started an anti-anxiety medication. It all helped, it still does help, but sometimes it just isn’t enough. 

So, the other day, I got home from work and sat down to do my homework for the night. Half way through an impossibly hard assignment for an intro level anthropology course, I found myself with my head in my hands, leg shaking uncontrollably, staring blankly at my computer screen, thoughts running a mile a minute. I couldn’t do it. I just needed to talk about it. Talk about everything I had going on, get it off my chest and I would be able to move on and tackle the issues at hand (even the four-hour long assignment for an INTRO level ONLINE anthropology course. Yes, I’m still mad).

I texted my mom, simply saying “I’m having a really hard time right now”. When she asked why, I didn’t have a good answer. Anxiety has this really cool thing it does where it builds literally everything up inside of you so that it’s impossible to point to one thing and say “that, that right there is the reason for all of this”. Pretty sweet, right? I told her I didn’t know, that my anxiety was just so bad at the moment, that I felt like I was on the verge of a breakdown because it was making it impossible to get anything done. She pointed to one issue and named that as the cause. When I tried to explain to her that wasn’t what I was feeling, she argued with me about it and shut down the conversation. 

The next day, she told me she hated when I told her I was feeling that way because she didn’t know what to say and it made her worry. I’m not going to lie, I felt resentful that in the one moment when I needed her to tell me everything was okay, I had to be the one to reassure her that everything was fine and not to worry, I would work everything out. 

I knew what I had wanted my mom to say in the moment. I had wanted her to validate what I was feeling. I wanted her to tell me that the way I was feeling was completely understandable, completely normal under the circumstances. I wanted her to tell me that everything would work out and that she loved me. Instead, because she couldn’t relate exactly to how I was feeling, she got defensive and pushed the situation aside because she didn’t know how to properly handle it.

Neither of us were wrong. I wasn’t wrong for reaching out to her. She wasn’t wrong for not being able to understand my situation. I realized that it would be so simple for me to tell her what I needed to hear when I reached out to her in those situations. Everything I needed to hear were things she was more than capable of saying, of meaning even. It would make her feel better to be able to know how to respond in the situation. 

Pro Tip: Go to the person you are most comfortable reaching out to. Explain your situation to them, whatever you struggle with the most. Tell them what you need to hear when you reach out to them in hard times. It can be the same as mine, something reassuring like “you know everything will be okay and I love you”. It can be something funny, like a pic of their dog being a goofball. It can be something cheesy, like the time you met that person. Anything that gets you out of the headspace you’re in, even just for the second that they’re saying it to you. 

Trust me. They’ll appreciate knowing how to help you just as much as you’ll appreciate being helped. 

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Breaking The Cycle

I’m not going to lie, this is really hard for me to write about. Again, I hate, neigh loathe, being vulnerable. This would be the reason I have five million doubts running through my mind at the moment and why I’m on the third draft of this piece in under an hour (I’ve also listened to three full albums on Spotify, worked out for an hour and stress ate three little bags of gummi bears in procrastination but anywayssss). I know it needs to be said and I know I’m not the only one who has gone through this. So, here we go. 

I just want to give a quick background as to why I am the way that I am. I’ve been very perceptive to relationships from a young age, taking note of the rewards and consequences of them. I saw the happiness they could bring, the laughs, the comfort, the inside jokes that made each person in-the-know smile when it popped into their thoughts. I also saw the hurt relationships could bring. I saw people fake feelings, I saw people anxiously wait to hear words they knew they would never hear, saw people change into someone they thought would please another. It was from all of these observations that I subconsciously built an arms-length distance between myself and everyone I built a relationship with. 

It seems rather crazy, but it was only within the last year that I even realized I did this. I kept wondering why it was so easy for me to let go of people, when to others it seemed rather detrimental for a long period of time. Not to say I didn’t cry a few times, didn’t think through the should’ve, would’ve, could’ve process after something didn’t work out, but nothing ever really stuck with me. I also realized that after one problem, I was able to be done. I had no problem cutting them out of my life, moving on for what I thought was the better. Once I decided to be done, I was done. I never saw a problem with this.

And then I met a guy. The story of how we met is equally hilarious and embarrassing (may or may not involve me falling off of a table) so we’re just going to skip ahead a bit! Listen, I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but this wasn’t one of them. We clicked pretty fast and I found myself doing things I never normally took the time or energy to do when I was talking to someone. I absolutely hate talking on the phone, but I would easily spend two or three hours talking about nothing on the phone with him. I caught myself smiling when he would tell stories about his family, who I didn’t even know. I was even starting to listen to country music. No, not even the pop country that most of us can endure. This was deep, twangy (what I would earlier classify as “gross” and shudder at) country music. The worst part was, I actually liked it. I liked all of it. 

Moving forward, I realized that in a very short period of time, I’d become very comfortable with him. It was a level of comfort that I hadn’t really known before and was slightly terrifying, but I pushed back those thoughts. Things took a turn and slowed down a bit. Keeping in touch went from daily, to weekly, to monthly. 

This is usually where I thrive. This is where I’m able to dive into work/school/whatever and walk away clean. I couldn’t figure out why little things still made me think of him and why I still wanted to text him when something funny happened. I couldn’t figure out why it was still causing me to be distracted, why I hadn’t woken up and been able to push the memory aside as I usually did. 

Then, out of the blue, I got a call from him. He came over, we talked for the first time in a while and it honestly shocked me when I literally felt the same exact way I had before about him. Like I said, when I decided to be done, when I stopped talking to someone, I was done. I’m not kidding when I say I was able to turn my feelings off for them. I only ever thought of them as friends from that point forward. This was different. I had gone through the same process but still felt the same way, still felt happy to have him there. 

Before we went to sleep, I leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. He grumbled something into the pillow while I was laying back down. I turned to let him repeat what he said. “You would spoil me,” he said, head still in the pillow. He left the next day, but that line replayed in my head long after he was gone. 

I couldn’t figure out why I was still thinking about it, so I enlisted the help of my friends. It seemed the common response from my friends was that it was upsetting that he would say that when we weren’t together, that he was able to disconnect from the situation in a way that I wasn’t able to, and ultimately that men were idiots (sorry guys). I listened to all of their opinions, looked through that perspective. None of it was the right answer for me. 

It took me two whole days of thinking about this line to realize that what he had said hadn’t made me upset at all. It was quite the contrary, actually. Without knowing it, he had actually said one of the greatest things I had ever heard about myself. 

Guys, I did it!!!! 

He was absolutely right, I would spoil him. There was no arms-length distance between us. For the first time, I had put my arm down and allowed myself to fully and truly care about someone else. With his help, I broke a cycle that I honestly didn’t think I’d ever be able to break. I had subconsciously built such a defensive response towards relationships for so long that I didn’t think I’d ever be able to change it. He showed me I could. 

I didn’t hear from him again after that night. This is probably the most important part of this piece. I’m telling my side of the story. There’s a good chance that he never felt the same way I did and that is completely okay. Of course it hurts, of course it’s embarrassing but the takeaway from this was so much bigger than all of that. I kept wondering why I ‘d met him in the first place (the chances were one in a million) but this was why. He was honest, he was kind and he showed me that by putting my guard down, I could meet someone truly incredible. 

I don’t have one bad thing to say about him. He’s an amazing person with a big heart and deserves just as much time to find himself as he needs. The only thing I have to say is thank you. Thank you for letting me in, thank you for letting me care, thank you for showing me I’m capable of so much more than I thought. 

I’m not quite sure how to end this, but I do want to say one more thing. It’s always easier to see the bad than it is to see the good. If I had settled on the response that what he’d said was mean in some way, I would’ve never been able to realize this huge detail about myself. Don’t settle for the easy answer. Settle for the answer that feels right, that you know to be true. 

See you guys next time. 

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