We continue my ongoing blog-to-book project: Life After High School: Secrets To A Successful Life By Those Who Have Had Twenty Years To Think About It (or) What They Didn’t Teach Us Gen Xers In High School with an interview featuring Nathan Wolfe. If you missed the last post, click here, otherwise, you can start at the beginning here.
Mount Vernon, Washington
My Life In High School
Who were you in High School and how did you feel about it?
High school was an interesting time in life. I was a new transplant to the area and the town was amazing but not all that accepting of a new person. I skirted many groups in high school and was fortunate to meet many different people. I was grateful for those that stuck their neck out to become friends. I regret not being more active on sports teams and wound up working a lot. Work was interesting and jump-started my career but some of the memories to be made in high school were not, for better or worse.
What did you think your life would become when you graduated?
I have always been excited about life during the stage it presented itself. I had aspirations of doing various things but little expectations. I knew I wanted a career in the construction arena but mostly focused on the today.
My Life After High School
What happened in your life to you, for you, and by you in the last twenty years (how have you used your time and who have you become)?
Life has been incredible in the last 20 years. I hate to use activity to define a person but in this case, it is the best tool to summarize my outlook and life-shaping viewpoints. Post high school I was fortunate enough to attend PLU in Tacoma where I played lacrosse, graduated in Geology and most importantly met my lovely wife and life partner.
PLU was an incredible fit for me as it was diverse, similar type personalities and small enough where the teachers were able to inspire me to learn. I went into the college experience not wanting to go as I had what I thought was a life long career ahead of me. So glad I was forced a bit to take that left turn.
Post college I went back to work as a laborer and an operator for a local dirt contractor in the Skagit Valley. I spent 10 years in the field doing some incredible projects and experiencing a diverse cross-section of people. During this time we had two girls who of course have become the apples of my eye even though it took a quintessential two-by-four across the head like in the movie Tommy Boy. More to follow on that accord.
I transitioned into the office and became a project manager even though I missed a lot of the field work. Through this opportunity, I was able to round out my understanding of an entire construction project while being familiar with what it takes to accomplish the work. I also learned during this time that your mind sometimes is what holds you back. I had become overweight and lazy on my personal time. I felt that all my time and energy was spent working 12 hours a day.
A very close friend couple, whom we met at PLU and our lives had mirrored each other, decided to do a Biggest Loser Competition. It wound up being incredible. It was life changing—lost 70 lbs., ran my first half Marathon and realized there was a lot of energy to spare if you just dug deep. This mental change has helped me from that moment forward tackling life’s challenges and taking full advantage of every day.
Our family moved shortly thereafter and enrolled our first in school. We met some incredible people who have become our close friend sets. The group has common parenting traits and similar aged children who get along. It has been a great journey. Our company began building industrial buildings and I made the transition into the vertical field. It has been incredible and has allowed me to begin learning again and meeting an incredible group of people.
The job took me to Mississippi for 8 months building a food plant. What an incredible ride that was. I am so fortunate to be able to visit an incredibly different area of the United States and to meet some amazing people and live the history of that area.
Recently my “Go big or Go Home Attitude” took a different turn. I fell from a zip-line at a friend’s house, shattered my leg and broke a vertebra. The injury was complex and will leave permanent disabilities however the experience has been an eye-opener. First of all, it was an extremely negative event but with some very positive outcomes, as you may have guessed this is the two-by-four in the face.
Throughout the process, which included several surgeries at Harborview and a long healing road that has just started, there were so many things to be grateful. Incredible medical care (you don’t want to be in Harborview until you need to be there and when you need it, make sure you are there), A great work environment, incredible friend and family support and most of all my three ladies.
I could go on and on about this life changing moment but the greatest take away is the event realigned my life to focus on my family and myself. Developed an ability to say no, which I did not have and a realization that on the death-bed you won’t regret the day you did not go into the office but will probably regret the birthday or event you did not spend with your family. Thank you to the universe for letting me learn this lesson in a big enough way to make a point but small enough to cause greater damage or death. Life has and hopefully will continue to be fabulous.
My Life Lessons
What were the major life lessons and wisdom that you gained during your journey over the last 20 years?
You may need to reference the last part of the last question.
Letter To My High School Self
If you could write your 18-year-old self (or however old you were when you graduated) a letter, and send it back in time, what would you say? What lessons, wisdom, encouragement, or warnings would you give yourself?
Don’t let your mind stop something because you think you can not do it. Don’t work so much. Enjoy life to the fullest. Realize how fortunate you are. Don’t be afraid to talk with the pretty girl or the intimidating person. Say no sometimes. Invest in your future. Stay in touch with people. Never stop striving for excellence!
Thank you for the inspiration, Nate! Next time, I am changing it up and interviewing a teacher, Kevin Miller, to get an entirely different perspective.
Are you from Generation X? I want to hear what you think! Please comment below and participate in the conversation about What They Didn’t Teach Us Gen Xers In High School. What do you wish someone told you when you were eighteen?