When I graduated from college in 2011, I had no job and few prospects. The fault was my own.
I should've spent more time seeking council and utilizing university resources than drinking beer and trying to get laid.
Sure, I'd held several odd jobs throughout school, but none were in the field I desired to break into, and none of them even offered a full-time opportunity.
I wish I knew then what I know now.
Graduating with a degree in broadcast journalism, I should've applied for a job away from the bright lights and competitive market of New York City.
"Walla Walla, Washington," my professors said. "Tyler, Texas," they championed.
I would hear none of it.
Instead, I moved back in with my parents and fought tooth and nail to gain employment of any sort. I started as a part-timer at a law firm, but the dream never died to work in sports journalism.
Then, just as I was contemplating pursuing a full-time position as a paralegal, I was hit with a bolt from the blue. Through a friend of a friend, I found myself face-to-face with the opportunity to take an unpaid internship with a major media company.
The dilemma was clear: Do I cut my income in order to pursue a dream I thought was dead?
The lessons learned and connections made during that internship proved invaluable.
From intern I became a freelancer, from freelancing I started writing for multiple outlets and, a better-late-than-never grinder, I finally obtained a full-time job writing about sports.
When current Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien went to work for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots organization in 2007, he didn't know how things were going to turn out, but he knew he owed it to himself to see.
Before accepting the job with the Patriots, O'Brien, then 37, was working as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Duke University.
He was married. His wife had just given birth to their second son. And for all intents and purposes, O'Brien was making a good living in Durham, North Carolina.
In moving to New England, O'Brien was accepting a decreased role and a decreased paycheck, the latter of which his wife wasn't particularly thrilled about.
We had Jack and Michael had just been born. For that college coaching deal there, I was making a decent salary. Didn't quite make that same salary in New England. She didn't quite have the divorce papers written up then. That came later for other reasons. My suitcase wasn't out on the porch, but I don't think she was real thrilled about the ol' salary.
Under Belichick, O'Brien served as one of the Patriots' offensive quality control coaches, the lowest rung on the totem pole, basically.
So, why did he do it? Sure, the Patriots had been victorious in three of the last six Super Bowls and were coming off a 12-4 season, but O'Brien had a wife and two young boys to think about.
Would you be able to take a job that pays significantly less money when you know there are three people depending on you to eat?
O'Brien did accept, though, and soon worked his way up the coaching ladder in New England. In 2012, he became the head coach at Penn State, and less than seven years after taking the biggest gamble of his life, he became the head coach of the Houston Texans.
Reflecting on his decision, O'Brien said,
It was a great opportunity. It wasn't necessarily that I was saying, 'I gotta get to the NFL.' It was more about at that time having a chance in my career to work for a great football coach and a great organization.
We can't always control when we'll be faced with our most important decisions in life, but what Bill O'Brien did at the age of 37 is nothing short of heroic.
While some may have criticized him for being selfish, in reality his motives were just the opposite. O'Brien was acting not only to better his life, but to better the lives of the three most important people in his life.
When I decided to take a leap and pursue my dream, I knew I was going to take a big hit to my bank account. But I was in my early 20s, "supporting" myself and living at home with my parents.
I imagine more Millennials would relate more to me than they would O'Brien, but regardless, the point remains the same.
If given the opportunity to take a potential major step in your career you never even thought possible, take the financial hit in the short-term in order to make the big bucks down the road.
You never know where it's going to lead, but you owe it to yourself to see.