Today is my 25th birthday. And let me be the first to tell you, the years only go by quicker, and you never feel any younger.

On Wednesday morning about 4 a.m. I woke up to a sharp pain radiating through my back and into my abdomen. What I originally thought to be a stomach ache I generally suffer a couple times a week, quickly turned into a trip to the Emergency Room and a diagnosis of kidney stones.

As I type this I still have yet to pass the stone, and as you read this I will be enjoying (or trying to) a birthday getaway in Milwaukee, that will be topped off with a trip to Wrigley on Sunday to watch the Cubbies.

The work never stops though, no matter the pain or the celebrations that intervene, and people often ask me why I work so hard. So here it is.

Just one disclaimer though — I called off work on Wednesday for full-time job No. 1 only because the hospital doctor told me I couldn’t drive while on pain killers, and I hated myself all day for not working. And that’s just it, how do members of society call off work and are completely okay with it?

There are two main reasons that I work the way I do, which is currently the role of sports editor at the Journal Review, full-time seasonal employee for Janssen Landscape, operating my own mowing business, and another part-time job.

When I was growing up, probably 10 years old or so, I would push mow my grandma and grandpa’s yard every week. It would take me about 2.5-3 hours, but it was a complete joy for me. The part I didn’t like was weed-eating around their chain-link fence. They had an electric weed-eater at the time and I would always have my grandpa’s extra-long extension cord stretched all over the yard. The one thing I remember most from my childhood and all the life lessons my Papaw Tom taught me was what he would say when I would complain about winding back up the extension cord.

“Just think about all the things in life that you will face that will be worse,” he would always say.

And that has stuck with me anytime I’m doing something that I don’t really want to be doing I just think about him saying that. Another thing he still says to this day is “If something is worth doing, it is worth doing right.”

Words could never be truer.

Now on to how this lesson from Mr. McMurry — the bald, mowing grass, sportswriter, fool — ties to sports.

In high school my work ethic was not good. I had marginal talent in athletics, but I know hard work could have made me a ton better and made things a lot more rewarding. But I didn’t, and I still think about the lack of effort I put forward on the field and in the classroom during high school. 

So this summer when a hot day is coming to a close, and I’ve been mowing from 7-5, working for a few hours in the office at the Journal Review, and heading back out to mow more until the sun goes down, I think back to the days I didn’t work hard and try my hardest to work that feeling of failure away.

It doesn’t work, and even worse I like every single amount of work I do. In fact, I love it.

I’m not here to boast myself, because there are still people who work harder than me, and I envy those people, but I work very hard at what I do, and always make sure to do the job the right way just like my grandpa taught me. However, there are many people who think they should be entitled to a lot of things without any work being put forward.

High school athletes — don’t become one of those people. 

Get up for morning weights, and stay up late to study for that test. But also stay out late on Saturday nights, drag yourself to church on Sunday, binge-watch TV Sunday night, and get up Monday morning to start the process all over again.

The work hard/play hard lifestyle is one decision you’ll never regret. 

People that were like me in high school are the same people who are unemployed, unfinished with their degree, and claiming they are just waiting for the ‘right job.’ I got lucky that I was able to turn a switch after I graduated, but most aren’t so fortunate.

All of you kids getting ready to start fall practice here in a few weeks, please do me a favor. Show up, work hard, and let the results follow. There is absolutely nothing wrong with working for everything you get, and figuring that out in high school is better than the alternative. 

If you don’t, that is one regret that I will guarantee to follow you around for a lifetime.

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(1) comment

Angel Keller

I really liked this article and happy belated birthday

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