The Decision

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I have taken my talents back to New Albany. Like Lebron James, my career path led me back to my hometown. Unlike him, however, my decision wasn't really by choice at all, but more a culmination of external factors that completely changed the trajectory of my life. For the better.

Graduate school seemed like the natural next step. I had this glorified vision that after I graduated from Furman, I'd move out west, get accepted into whatever program I applied for, and go on to get my dream job and live my dream life. Sounds like the plans of a large majority of my peers. For many, their plans panned out, and I commend them. But my circumstances are much more common – dashed hopes and unaccomplished goals are the harsh reality. And nobody tells you about this, probably because words can't convey it. Maybe it's a rite of passage to come to that realization only through experience. It's funny now to look back on that season of life and scoff at the naïvety in those plans. Fresh out of school, the mind is filled with ideas and ways to change the world. I could've flown around the world and back again with the amount of air under my wings. Instead, I took off and fell flat on my face. And nobody tells you about this.

So here I am, no direction, no prospects, living at home. I'm a leech, sucking every good thing from those that love and care about me, taking advantage of their love. I'm a burden weighing down the shoulders of everyone around me. And nobody tells you about this.

But I'm a big believer in timing, and that you're exactly where you're meant to be. In the midst of my wallowing and self pity, it was impossible for me to see through the immense fog that so clouded my judgement. But even enlightenment chooses its time. 

Some time ago, I opened a fortune cookie that said, "Time heals all wounds. Keep your chin up." Andy Stanley, a senior pastor, author, and father in Atlanta, Georgia, said in one of his sermons, "Time...is...your...friend." When that fog finally lifted, I could see how perfectly my life has panned out, and I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. My decision, or rather the opportunity life has presented to me, faith, and perspective have led me to some realizations. As an entrepreneur, recognizing these things within your own situation can lead you to make better decisions.

1. Accept Help: I haven't accomplished anything by myself. Success has come from my reliance on other people. One of my greatest sources of guilt – depending on my parents – shouldn't yield guilt at all. Both of them have expressed their eagerness to aid me during this time in my life. They are setting me up for future success. Their support right now is buying me time. Instead of spending my paycheck on rent and groceries and bills, I can put that money away. Instead of taking the first job that will secure a paycheck, I can go after my dream job.

2. Welcome Adversity: If I didn't face trials, I wouldn't develop perseverance. I wouldn't know how to solve problems when they inevitably arrive. I wouldn't recognize my own strength.

3. With Time Arises Value Recognition: I plummeted down a spiral of depression. I didn't understand my self worth. But time conceived growth and maturity, which gave birth to recognition and implementation of my values. Not rushing into major decisions has taught me what I actually want out of life, because what I want today isn't necessarily what I want one month, one year, ten years from now.

4. In Every Situation Comes Opportunity: Ending up back home was the last thing I wanted. Or so I thought. But with the revitalization of the downtown area, the statewide focus on innovation, and the resources springing up for entrepreneurs, I see the opportunity to take ownership in the community I care so much about. Not many people have the chance to be a catalyst in a movement or affect change for a cause bigger than one individual.

Like Lebron, I am in a building phase. I have a team around me, I have the tools, I've made the preparations, and enough time has passed. I just have to have the patience and the motivation to get my championship ring.

And nobody tells you about this.




The Apple

Know thyself, an Ancient Greek aphorism shrouded in ambiguity, was one of 147 maxims inscribed in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. In Ancient Greece, kings and peasants alike would travel great lengths to consult the oracle, who, in a trance-like state, would share the eminent prophesies that were to be implemented by the worthy supplicants. I don't need an oracle to predict my future; I know that understanding who I am can determine how I navigate future circumstances, which can lead to a more desirable outcome. Recognizing my strengths and weaknesses saves time and frustration because I know to delegate the tasks I despise, then embrace tasks that arouse passion and joy. Discovering my personality traits, like if I work better alone or with a group, if I'm a creative or an analytic, an extravert or an introvert, leads to better decision making to maximize efficiency in the workplace. The interactions I have with customers matter; I AM the brand, a walking billboard, an ambling representation of what my business stands for. Knowing who I am – even the bad – is crucial for entrepreneurial success.

Time has taught me to observe my parents for a more objective way to ascertain the type of person I am and who I'm going to be. I'll give you a hint if you choose to undertake this exercise as well: take note on which of their behaviors annoy you the most. We subconsciously overlook our own flaws and project the anger and frustration onto those same flaws we see in other people. No matter how much you try to fight it, you pick up some of their mannerisms, viewpoints, beliefs.

But that's not always a bad thing.    

I'm 26, and I still live at home. My goal in life is to own at least an entire wall of books, I have a slight obsession with Chance the Rapper, and Sunday is my favorite day of the week. I'm also an introspective that likes to understand the "why" behind the actions of myself and others.

Starting this coworking venture with my dad has opened the door to a whole slew of self observances, one of which is the reason why I want to open a cowork space in the first place. Ever since I can remember, I've wanted my career to revolve around serving other people, I just didn't know in what capacity. After a conversation with my dad I realized that he shared the same purpose; he is channeling it by supervising and supporting the fruition of my dreams to become realities. Turns out, however, that I've gotten a double dosage of compassion for the community; It just took a recent event to occur for my mom to unveil hers from within too. 

My mom, Mary Gesenhues, listening to a fellow advocate after her WDRB interview.

My mom, Mary Gesenhues, listening to a fellow advocate after her WDRB interview.

My mom is superwoman. A couple weeks ago, she flitted to a town hall meeting to fight against the implementation of a corporation on historic land in Floyd County. That was after she had watched my two-year-old nephew all day, folded all the clothes I'd left in the dryer, and had dinner ready on the stove. When she returned, her cheeks were flushed from the excitement of her small victory. As soon as she crossed the threshold, she exclaimed, "We won! Well, they're at least postponing the project for now!" There was a buzz of newfound energy that consumed her – something I hadn't seen in her before. She was standing up for something she believed in. The responsibility she felt in preserving the town was palpable, and I wasn't the only one who noticed.

WDRB caught wind of my mom's rally cry and captured her insistence to use the space in a more sustainable fashion that would benefit the entire county. Her interview aired that night.

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Now, back to understanding my "why." This sense of social responsibility is something beyond my control, something ingrained in me since birth. Wanting to be part of something bigger than myself, even if I had to lead the charge, was an inherited trait from my parents. A trait I'm proud of; A trait that has already empowered me; A trait that I can depend on during the days that seem impossible to conquer. No, I don't need an oracle – I can look at the actions of my mom and dad. A woman who will stand up for what she believes in, and a man who will stand up for who he believes in... maybe my own list of aphorisms should begin with know thy parents.