I want to tell you about two very real disappointments you're going to face all-too-soon, Michael. The first will come at you quickly, when you are just 18 years old. The other will come another 18 years later. So, I guess the positive side of this is that you've got 18 years to prepare for your first disappointment. But make sure you make good mental notes so you know how to properly deal with the second.
First, you're going to audition for a drum and bugle corps in 1993. You'll be good enough to audition, but that's about it. You're going to practice a lot, and you're going to be excited about the opportunity to drum in the big leagues. But, you're going to get cut the first day. The cut will be deep; it will sting. You'll cry in the car on the way home. You'll be a glutton for punishment, because you'll go on to audition for another corps that's not quite as good as the one from which you already got cut...and you'll get cut again. "You're no good", you'll tell yourself.
But, here's the good news. You're not going to let it defeat you. It may knock you down, but you're going to get back up. You'll have a good support crew in your friends and family, and they will encourage you to try again the following year. You're going to drum and drum and drum until you can't feel your blisters any more. But it will pay off. You'll march during the summer of '94 with the Toledo Glassmen when you're 19. Please believe me when I say, "Don't let those first two defeats get you down." If you pick yourself up by the nape of the neck, you will succeed. It will just require some time and effort.
You may think this first upset is no big deal. You may be tempted to think, "What impact will getting knocked down and getting back up have to do with REAL LIFE? It's just drum corps, right?" That's true, indeed, but just as sports teach kids about teamwork and commitment, falling down and scraping your "knees and elbows" will do similar character-building for your psyche.
In 2010, you're going to reach a high followed by an immediate low. But this time, the low will be in your career and will come from the hands of those who will call you "friend". While I'd like to tell you who those two people will be, I don't want to negatively influence your opportunity to reach out to them as friends. After all, maybe you'll experience a better outcome than I did. But be ready, these friends will say one thing to your face, but another behind your back. Did I mention, "Welcome to this big, cold world yet?" Once again, you're going to tell yourself, "You're no good." The problem is this time you'll believe it. And that failure will affect everything you hope to achieve the rest of your career.
The defeat will be a punch in the gut. More like repeated kicks to the groin. It will knock you down. Hard! You're going to pray for God's help to forgive. You're going to try to forgive, but it will be one of the most difficult things you will ever have to face. In fact, even two years later you will toss and turn in your bed as you replay the events in your mind for the ten-thousandth time. Please don't that. Instead, do your best to forgive, leave the wrong at the foot of the Cross, and move on. Hating the culprits will not solve the problem, and will not take the pain and hurt away. In fact, it will only make it worse -- and THEY will have won!
So, I guess here's my final word of encouragement for now: Pray about it. Start praying now so you are prepared to handle the heartbreak when it comes knocking on your door. Pray about what your response will be in the midst of the let-down. And finally, keep praying. Because you're going to need it.
I love you,
Your adult self