Teach me a lesson. Tell me a story.

In recent years, I’ve had the internet at my fingertips. The rate at which I consume information has greatly increased. The amount of knowledge I can acquire through the internet has no limit. Limitless. Seems like a powerful opportunity.

The powerful opportunity at our fingertips

Do I take advantage of this opportunity? It depends. Depends on what? It depends on how I’ve chosen to live my life up until this point. If I’m at the top of my graduating class it likely means I already have a majority of my future planned out.
On the other hand, if I was a trouble maker growing up and didn’t take life’s consequences seriously than I probably have prayed to a few different gods for his or her forgiveness and to please help me have a good future. I failed on the traditional path my parents tried to guide me down. Until recently, the last resort in this case would be prayer.
Google teaches me better than an antiquated education system
I don’t use any of the knowledge I acquired while pursuing my bachelor’s degree. I didn’t participate in high school so there’s not much I could have brought from there anyway.
It was a common social norm for members of our society to think we must go to college and do well so we can secure a job to start working full-time after college graduation. For me, that is simply not true.
I failed in life on a regular basis ever since 1st grade. I was dragged through a system that taught me how to be a great failure. I did a good job f*cking up my life periodically. If things were going well for a short time it meant my next fiasco was about to take place.
I didn’t start learning anything of value until I removed myself from the education system I was raised in and shackled to since birth.
I wanted to be a leader in my industry and profession. I always used to think about which industry I wanted to pursue. I tried making that decision based on which industry I would become the world renowned innovator.
Unfortunately, most things have been invented in the standard academic communities. I was disappointed because I didn’t want to just take a job because I needed money. I want to create stuff and come up with new innovations that helped people heal or get more work done. I couldn’t imagine working a job that only served the purpose of sustenance. Life is supposed to be more fun than that.
After college graduation a friend of mine mentioned building a website so we could start selling advertising space or something. I didn’t understand the terminology at the time, but before we could built anything he fell of the face of the earth. All I had from him was this sentence, “We should use WordPress to build the site.” I had never heard of WordPress before this point and I never did anything web related besides download music and chat with friends on Facebook.
It’s the summer of 2009. I finished up all my credits for graduation. The last class I took at Rutgers was a truly bookmark worthy time in my life – among other valuable concepts I learned how to film, edit, and produce my own films.
I said this to my professor and studio mentors, “I’m really interested in mobilizing large groups of people. I want to get involved in the community.” So, they introduced me to a few organizations and I took it from there.
I immediately noticed a divide between the students of Rutgers and the residents of the city of New Brunswick. My first goal was to create content and events to bridge the gap between the students and the community.
I spent one on one personal time with over 20 local community organizations who were doing amazing things. I was filming all the city council meetings, producing short videos for some local elections, I was contracted by the School of Social Work to produce a documentary about their Summer Housing and Internship Program (SHIP), I was taking any web/video/social media work I could find.
I was at the point where I needed a website to house all the videos and start organizing my process. The problem, I had no education on websites.
My education didn’t start until after I graduated college. My education started right at this moment…
I had a few clients, I produced a few videos, and I was ready to start building WordPress sites. I sat at the computer and slowly typed in…
google.com
My first question to Google was, “What is WordPress?”
Then I asked, “How do I build a WordPress site.”
The rest…well, the rest is history.

Before the internet, it was difficult, if not impossible, to carve out a unique existence for myself.

However, the influx of bookmark worthy knowledge and efficiency tools on the internet has created the opportunity for someone like myself, the person who failed at the traditional upbringing, to create a new meaningful existence for myself. Literally, breaking the mold. Starting from scratch, but on a level playing field with my peers.

I define the term “bookmark worthy” as a piece of life-changing content I acquire on my travels through the inter-webs

Depending on what tidbit or software it is, I either bookmark it on my web browser or I type it in a word processor.
I’m referring to the seriously “bookmark worthy” life lessons. The lessons that leave me somewhat in a shock, “Oh my gosh! This is brilliant! If I had only used this new tool the first time I would have been so much better off.”

Learning through personal experiences

  • Don’t judge your happiness for the day on what the scale says in the morning.
  • Sit on the same side of the booth with each other.
  • Money can’t buy happiness. Unless, of course, you earn the money yourself.

I can remember always having to make a mistake before I would learn something. I wasn’t able to learn from someone telling me, “Daniel, this is how you should act in this situation.” Nope. I didn’t want to hear it.
My mom always tried to helped me, though. I would disregard her wishes without thinking twice. Next thing I know I’m locked up in the juvenile detention center for the last two months of my junior year of high school.
That experience turned into one of the bookmark worthy moments in my life.
Locked in a 10 x 10 cement cell for 18 hours of the day I remember thinking, “Man, I wish I had just listened to my mom when she told me not to do XYZ.”
More on that experience and time of my life in a future post.

I somehow made it through high school.

I don’t remember doing one assignment of homework. In fact, I have never read a book from cover to cover. In the 30 years I have been alive I have never read a entire book. It’s not something to brag about. It’s upsetting. It’s also interesting to think about how much knowledge I’ve acquired through reading and researching on the internet.
If the internet didn’t come along and explode like it did back in 2007, 2008, and 2009 then I would be in a very bad place right now. I failed in the beginning of my life. Instead of letting that ruin my future I used it as the foundation for the customized life I wanted to build for myself. A life built around my passions and skills. A life where I graduated from college and I was immediately my own boss.
This type of opportunity did not exist in the pre-internet age. Fortunately, I was finished failing in my personal life at the same time the internet made itself useful.

Startups aren’t the only ones failing early and often

I excelled at math during my freshman and sophomore year. Aside from that I didn’t do any work. I didn’t see any value in doing any work. Well, I think it was more not wanting to push myself to do that type of work. I’lll come back to this in a little bit.
I grew up in one of the most affluent towns of my area. I also attended a great high school.
Earlier I mentioned not wanting to push myself to do “that type of work”. Mostly, I’m referring to work that I didn’t feel passionate about. In 1st and 2nd grade I was the most advanced student in my class. Probably because my sister was always teaching me how to solve difficult math problems and she showed me how to read complex words on the chalkboard when we played at home.
Once I arrived to third grade there was no more floating by. The teacher was strict. There was a ton of homework every night. I don’t understand how this type of busy work was supposed to help me change the world.
After three days, I fell behind in my assignments. I was pulled out of the advanced learning program before the next week started.
I hated school, my teachers, the kids who stayed in the smart classes, and basically stopped caring about succeeding in school. I was only in 3rd grade and I already dropped out.
Senior year of high school came quickly. I skated by with barely passing grades. I never took my SATs. I didn’t apply to one college.
I noticed all my classmates were getting ready to leave for college in a few months. That’s when it hit me. I wanted to join my friends who were leaving for college. I wanted to go off on my own in a new place. Make new friends. Start a new life.
Nope.
At this point, I really wanted to go to college. The problem was, with only a few months left in my senior year I didn’t have enough time to bring my GPA up, take my SATs, visit schools, and the long list of other things I missed out on.
I remember thinking, “I wish I had just listened to my mom when she told me to study.”
I was a difficult child to deal with. I was argumentative anytime someone tried to tell me what to do. Even if when that something was my mother trying to help me go to college to get a higher education.
After all that, I attended five colleges. I studied among the most intelligent minds in the world at the University of Notre Dame. I lived in a dorm with the Notre Dame football team. I finished my bachelor’s degree in 8 semesters.
My college experience was intense. It was rapid. I learned a lot and experienced a lot in a small amount of time. I was transient. Too transient, at times.
Eventually, I settled back in New Jersey and transferred to Rutgers University to finish my degree. I fell deeper in love with sociology. I was given the opportunity to think through complex social issues. Social issues that I personally dealt with growing up. I came to the realization that the people who have a sociological imagination usually have had to overcome obstacles at some point in their life. If I never had to lift a finger for another human, if I was spoiled, or if I was taught I was supreme over another person it lays the foundation for ignorance, neglect, and selfishness.
I will circle back to the point of the post. I learned a lot of life lessons from age 18-24. Unfortunately, I learned most of them too late. I am now committed to creating a book on life. Life skills, I supposed.
My goal is to gather personal experiences from my life, from your life, and from anyone else who is willing to contribute a small piece of their history with the hopes that one day in the future a person just like you will be dealing with the same problem you went through. They can look at the index of questions and personal experiences we have in our Life Skills book and read about what it was like for you as you went through the same experience. Tell this person what you learned after going through the problem. What do you wish you had NOT done?
To provide this advice for those willing to listen will increase our society’s level of social consciousness. It will also increase our capacity for our society to catch up with
I don’t know about you, but if I had a venue to talk about the different experiences I went through it would benefit me in two obvious ways. 1) It feels incredibly good to get heavy thoughts out of my mind, off my chest, and fleshed out of a tangled thought process. If I can share these experiences with other people it immediately helps me feel better because the weight of the problem is no longer only on me. All the people listening to me are able to share the weight of something that felt like it was crushing me. 2) I just may save someone’s life.

YOU will save someone’s life

I know that for a fact. How do I know? Because if you’re still reading this post it means you’ve been listening to me this whole time. Sharing the burden of all the heavy things I poured out.
Thank you for being here for me. Thank you for listening.
I usually turn to writing when I feel like nobody is listening in the physical world around me. I usually write when I don’t feel like I’m being understood properly in person. Maybe writing can have a similar impact on you.
I assume you’ve had to deal with something that was difficult at some point in your life. It could be a cat that died when you were 10. There is a 10 year old somewhere on this planet who is about to lose her cat. If she had your story and kind words to read or listen to or watch on video it will make her pain a slight bit sharp. I hope.

Globally Authored Project of Personal Experiences and Relationships (GAPPER)

My vision for this project is grand. I believe in you. I believe in my family and friends and neighbors. I want to live in peace with the ones I love. I see that as a possibility only if I make a conscious effort to reach back to the youth, reach sideways to my peers who might have missed the point, and reach forward to make sure I’m consistently pushing myself towards a better life.
You heard one or two of my experiences and lessons learned in this post. Before I decided to write this gigantic book of experiences with you and the rest of the world I spent a few years going back to high school students to speak about my history. I told them about the bad decisions I made. I didn’t leave out any details. I just want to show people there is a better way. There is a better way than the way our pride and ego tells us is right.
Sometimes, all we have to do…is listen to the advice our loved ones give us so freely. Unortunately, I had a natural barrier against listening to my family. I listen much differently when I hear the same message come from a non-family member. I want to harness that concept. I want to share each other as resources for delivering important advice to the people who matter the most to us.
I would be honored if you contributed a short (or long) story (or many stories). I made it simple to contribute written stories, audio stories, and video stories. Take your pick! Let me know how I can help. I can’t wait to meet you 🙂