What was the most difficult time in your life? That horrible period when everything in your world seemed to be going wrong, and the harder you worked to fix one part, the more things seemed to fall apart. You were like Hercules cutting heads off of the hydra. We have all gone through times like this, be it for days, weeks, months, or even years. Just like Hercules though, if you keep fighting and persevere through these difficult times in your life, you will find the solution to your problems, and come out of it a stronger, wiser person. It is only by finding a way to soldier on and keep pushing forward, even when everything is going against you, that you can reap these benefits and get your happy, successful life back though. Despite the fact that I have had to overcome numerous obstacles and trying situations over the years, last year was probably the most difficult overall time in my life, and it is only now that I am through it and on the other side, that I can truly appreciate how thankful I am that I got through it and what it taught me.
With the exception of graduating with my Master’s degree from the University of Kansas in May, 2013 was a very rough year for me. First, my health was not good at all. My chronic pain had gotten worse, and we struggled to find a combination of pain killers that would work for me without turning me into a zombie. Additionally, I had a lot of trouble with respiratory infections, and I was hospitalized 5 or 6 times over the year. It got so bad that in October I had to have IV antibiotics at home for 3 weeks to try to get rid of the bacteria growing inside my lungs. There were even preliminary talks that I may have to move into a facility if my health didn’t improve. Professionally, I didn’t do much better. I had just gotten my Master’s, and for my age I had a lot of experience and a strong resume. I went on the job market in June looking for work as a data analyst or statistician, and although I had a few interviews that went well, I didn’t get any job offers in 6 months of applying. I was always “over-qualified,” whatever that means. On top of all of this, I had just moved from Lawrence, Kansas to Kansas City to be closer to potential jobs, and in doing so I ended up having to get a lot of new nurses. That meant training new people, in a new environment, and setting up a new, daily routine, which is a lot of work. It also meant that my social support system was in flux, at a time when I needed it the most. It was not a great time in my life by the end of the year, and over the Holidays I actually discussed moving home with my folks to sort of regroup and try a new job market. Instead though, we talked it over, and my parents and I decided to give Kansas City 4 more months, and I am so glad we did.
It was like the moment we made the choice to extend my lease on my apartment and give it 4 more months here, that things started to change for me. I decided to start a website, www.scottdrotar.com, to advertise myself as a freelance data analyst and blog periodically about psychology, data modeling, and statistics. I started posting more about my life and people, as I found it very cathartic and enlightening, and I noticed that people really responded to hearing stories from my life that told a message. Soon thereafter, I started posting every day about me, my life, and anything else I found interesting, and the readers kept coming. Realizing this, I thought to myself, “If they enjoy reading it this much, then hearing it live straight from the horse’s mouth would be even better.” So, I started developing my speaking skills and Roll Models, and by February I was ready to start speaking. At this point I was still looking for full time work in statistics, because I never thought I would be able to pay my bills as a professional speaker, but over the next few weeks I gradually transitioned from doing Roll Models as a hobby, to doing it part time to help people, to putting in 50 hours a week on it because it’s my true calling. I knew the first time I finished a 60 minute talk, heard the applause, and felt that connection with my audience, that I was doing what I was meant to do. I am now only 4 months in to this new endeavor, and I am paying my bills as a speaker and scheduling more talks all the time.
In addition to the success of Roll Models and finding my calling as a storyteller, my health and personal life have also improved. I have a great team of nurses now that provide me with consistent, quality care. We have also gotten to know each other better, so they are now more friends than nurses. My doctors and I finally found a pain cocktail that works for me, which has improved the quality of my life dramatically. Additionally, my lungs have been completely healthy since November (knock on wood). Through Roll Models and the website, I have gotten to meet and connect with so many interesting people, which has greatly enhanced my social life. Most importantly though, for the first time in my life I am completely happy. Now, there are things I am working to improve, but I am pursuing my passion, getting paid to help people, and living the independent life I have always dreamed of. How could I not be happy?
If not for my perseverance, some would say stubbornness, to succeed out here, I never would have gotten to fail at finding work as a statistician, which led to the creation of Roll Models. If I had given in, packed up, and moved home, I never would have found my true calling as a speaker, and chances are I would have lost my opportunity at living on my own. By not giving up, not making excuses, and pushing forward, I was able to get through the storm to see the rainbow on the other side. I believed that if I lived a good life, meditated on my problems, and was patient, that eventually my life would turn around. Thankfully, I had the strength and family support to accomplish this, and I am now reaping the benefits. I now realize that I was “over-qualified” for statistical work, because my real talent and passion was in telling my story to all of you. I would personally like to thank the dozens of companies that didn’t hire me, because without your rejection, I would not be living the full, happy life I am.
I will never forget how difficult 2013 was for me, and how there were so many times that I nearly threw in the towel. I will always remember this incredibly trying time in my life because of the lesson it taught me and the amazing life it led to. You cannot truly appreciate the good things in life without also experiencing the bad. When you are going through a rough patch in your life and want to give up, remember that the night is darkest just before the dawn. If you keep fighting, you will get through this trying situation, and you will be better for it. Wouldn’t it be a shame if you gave up just before things were going to turn around? Who knows, tomorrow could be the day that you find your true calling. You just have to believe in yourself and keep on trucking.