Show Me Your Lemons
Quitting my golf career was one of the biggest failures of my life. I was so determined to reach my goals that it was the only thing that I focused on. My determination to become a professional golfer was my sole focus and nothing was going to get in my way of achieving it. Not my academics, my relationships, or even my mental health. I sacrificed everything for it and I still came up embarrassingly short. Yes, I had some success. I qualified for the U.S. Amateur and played Division 1 golf, but it was still nowhere close to where I wanted to be. After finally deciding to give up on my dream, I was devastated.
I failed because I couldn’t handle failure itself. Anytime that I took a step backward, I took it as a sign that I was losing pace with my vision. I believed that the only way to reach my goal was to have a life full of successful moments. That was a lot of pressure!
After quitting, I realized I needed to change the way that I looked at life. Even when success did happen, I was miserable because of all the failures that I couldn’t accept.
Around that time, I ran into the universal saying: “When life give you lemons, make lemonade.” I felt as if I was given the biggest lemon I had ever gotten, but I didn’t know how to squeeze the juice out of it and add the sugar.
With golf out of the way, I took it upon myself to learn how to handle these situations better. The next few years were spent traveling the world and purposely throwing myself in uncomfortable and unknown environments so that I could learn how to adapt.
I was able to do some incredible things. I backpacked through Southeast Asia, lived in the back of my truck as a whitewater raft guide in Colorado, taught English in China, traveled to North Korea, and met my beautiful wife in India. These experiences forced me to learn one hard truth that none of us can escape.
Life is full of f*cking lemons.
In fact, we are all dealing with failures that affect us on a daily basis. Some of us are wrestling a failed relationship, others are dealing with a death in the family and many of us struggle with our own self worth. These can either break us or make us grow stronger based on how we treat them. It’s not about the size of the lemon, but how prepared you are to make lemonade.
Throughout my life, I’ve battled with how I presented myself. In college and golf, I wanted everyone to think that I was incredibly successful. In retrospect, I was trying to sell everyone that watered down Minute-Maid shit.
Every post on social media was a crafted piece of artwork that hung in my metaphorical structure. In my ego-driven determination, I would delete pictures and stretch the truth just so that it painted the exact picture I wanted.
I’ve learned that people hate the fake stuff and can taste it on the first sip. Real connection comes with real lemonade. The only way to do this is to be comfortable talking about your failures and what you learned from them.
Life will not be fair. Some will get the better corner lot or better lemons to work with. But forgiving life for not being perfect is the first step to making the best damn lemonade of your life. Reputations are built not by having a life without failures, they’re built by handling those challenges in a dignified way.
To be clear, I am still awful at doing this. Most of the failures in my life never get squeezed. They sit there in my basket and I’m afraid to look at them. Some of them I have been able to handle though and turn into pretty great tasting reminders for the future. This is not a skill I expect to master anytime soon but I know that with each failure, I’ll continue to ask myself how I can learn from it. Overtime, my lemonade will start to taste better and better.
My expedition to find out how to handle failures has taught me that sharing your lemonade with the world is the best part. The more vulnerability I show, the stronger I become. Sometimes what I share is super sour and not very well squeezed, but above all, I’m enjoying the process of making lemonade.
I’ve started a blog, the Sunday Shakedown, to share my lemonade with you all. And it’s just now that I realize how weird that sounds.
Who knows, this whole project might turn out to be one giant lemon failure. I know that my basket is overflowing with lemons just like it. Although, in the end, it doesn’t matter how many lemons life gives you, it’s how hard you were willing to squeeze the juice out of them.