The Start To Growth (Part I)

She meant the world to me, and it was over.

All it took was one slip to get covered in scrapes, and I fell bad. First year in university was the lowest point in my life because of that. I had no motivation to learn, no incentive to get out of bed, no drive to do anything. The only thing keeping me up were friends and alcohol… But still, she was in the back of my mind, picking at the scrapes.

I plodded through life's ditches, ignoring any signs of optimism that drove by. All I saw was unhappiness and defeat. I failed tests and assignments, plummeting from the 90's I was used to -- but I didn't care. I was a single nobody. I accepted my depressive problem, and the worst part was that I didn't want to cheer up. After months of lonesome sulking, that's all I knew. I didn't want to have fun. I didn't want to enjoy my life. If you met me at McMaster, you'd know me as the guy who got dumped. It got to the point where I'd talk about her just after introducing myself. All I knew was how to be sad.

I had no reason to leave this passive lifestyle.

I was a mess

sulking + drinking + tuning out lectures + sulking

That was my first year. That's where I was… and that's where we've all been. After tumbling down from life's highs, we come to reach a new bottom never experienced. But eventually, no matter what, something changes us. For me, it was something in second year that made me look up.

Right after my 20th birthday, my cousin called me and said one of his cute friends wanted to hang out. With me.

…I was stunned.

For one, why? And second, I didn't know how. For the past year, I only hung out with close friends I could vent to, and I for sure did not know how to hold up a decent introductory conversation. Would you stick around someone opening with "Oh hey, I'm depressed".

But sure enough, like all older relatives, my cousin persuaded me into taking her out. So I picked her up and drove to a Tim Horton's.

Right off the bat, school was the topic of choice… and she had her life planned. She knew what she liked, she knew what she wanted, she knew how to get there, and she held her chin high. All I could do was sip on my coffee and stare.

There were two things that woke me up: this coffee, and her drive

"Oh wow". That's it, that's all I could say… How could a girl like this, essentially wanting to change the world, live in a small town like Stoney Creek?

Big dreams like her's were alien to me, and on top of that, I had no personal experience in planning my own life. Again, all I knew was feeling sorry for myself, so I had no chance of reciprocating. Then she smiled and said:

What about you?

a question everyone asks… But this time was different. The circumstance was different.

What about me? After moping through a year as a science major, I wouldn't be honest to say a career in science (the typical answer I gave to aunts and uncles), and I especially couldn't say that after seeing her enthusiasm for her own plans. So I thought hard; within that 1 second gap between her question and my answer, I dug deep to find what would excite me to her level. And under this pressure to mirror her happiness, here is what I did:

  • I skimmed through my 20 years of life
  • Ignored the infinite voices that told me to "suck it up and work a steady 8 hour job", and
  • Found what churned my blood for more

"I just want to make movies"

After realizing all the home videos I would edit together into music videos, all the short storylines I would try to shoot and edit, all the attempted dancing clips and piano recordings of myself… I knew video production was a skill that made me smile. I didn't need a significant other to get me excited for life. It was already there, lingering through my subconscious mind as a passion and a fuel to get out of the gutter. But I ignored it.

I said it in defeat. How and why would I be able to make movies, short films, videos? I was just a second year undergrad. What gave me the right to do what I want? Besides… it was only a hobby. So I put down my coffee, laughed at what I just said, then waited for her to join. She didn't.

Why not?

That question was a bullet to the head. Why not? She said it with a serious confusion, and I thought she was crazy. I subconsciously brushed it off as some kind of new-age question, like why are you human and what's stopping you from being Kryptonian? As a science student, it was second nature to question everything, and I was definitely rejecting her hypothesis of Average-Aaron's capabilities -- someone who couldn't even hold a relationship. But it was also the science student inside me that eventually came to question my limits. Why did I have limits?

After that day, I let her bullet puncture my everyday thoughts. I never saw her again, and I don't blame her – I was a sulking alcoholic who couldn't let go of his past – so I took it as incentive to change. Why couldn't I make short films, and what barriers were stopping me? So I read everything I could about creating films professionally, and it turned out those walls were just gates. Gates along life's ditches that open back up to the high life.

I started to clean myself up and get my act together

Throughout my second year, I started to climb out of the gutter with an accepted dream. I'd learn how to make better films, do everything I could to create more films, and integrate film into science projects. All within the realm of Average-Aaron's second year as an undergrad. Eventually, I let this passion lift me out of the hole I was in for a year. When you let that happen, the scrapes of falling are replaced with marks of growth.

 It soon became the world to me, and it was just beginning.

  • Seek those who you admire
  • Ask 'what about you' and how to get to their level
  • Give in to the dream
  • Ask 'why not' and chase it