If you're reading this right now, allow me to congratulate you on surviving 2017. To say last year was a rollercoaster would be such an understatement, the mere concept of that sentence could classify as subterranean. So, before things really kick off this year, I'd like to take a few moments to reflect...
Right off the bat, the most amazing thing is that I can vividly recall exactly how I felt this time last year. For anyone who has been following me since I began my tenure with KPB, I'm sure you can recall that time as well. For anyone just joining us, allow me to elaborate. I had hit the "wall" most runners talk about when they realize that they can't push their bodies anymore. I had grown woefully disenfranchised with the FGC. Regardless of where I looked, be it the competitive side or journalistic, I simply could not find the justification for my being here anymore. It was an admittedly frightening time, considering how much of myself I dedicate to Kick-Punch-Block in particular & to the FGC in general. Some people, no matter how hard you try to convey the message, simply cannot grasp what all goes into taking part in Our Shared Passion.
There are no (real) breaks or vacations outside of simply dropping it altogether, so it becomes quite easy to lose yourself in what can seem like the torrential downpour of either information or legwork. At best, you get a few days to yourself before the next event or project needs your immediate/undivided attention. Simply put, contrary to some popular beliefs, there actually isn't a lot of "me time" involved when it comes to involvement with the FGC. You are in it, period. Before long, it becomes your second nature... that almost autonomous action you may not even be aware you're doing. It's at that moment where things can go very wrong & it was in that moment that I realized I desperately needed a change.
Thankfully, my team has my back. When I expressed the concerns I was having, they understood that I wasn't resigning from my position, but merely taking a (long overdue) break. During my sabbatical, the tasks I'm usually linked to were distributed as evenly as possible. If I had to pick a single facet of this ordeal that scared me the absolute most... it would have to be the fact that, for the slightest of moments, I considered actually hanging up my purple & black and walking off into the sunset. It wasn't out of malice or anything, just fatigue. Understand that while not everyone is cut out to swim upstream, even those who are can grow weary of the pace. However, this malaise faded & I found myself reinvigorated to not only pick up where I left off, but to excel in all aspects of my position.
I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this, so I'll just skip ahead to the part where my purpose became clear. I can safely say that 2017 was, hands down, the busiest year of my life. I traveled further & farther than I had ever imagined I would. Thanks to the perpetual support of my family & friends, the trust of more people than I can ever hope to list in a single article and the desire to get back to doing what I love, I got to enjoy levels of success & exposure that blew my expectations clear out of the water. For someone like me, who actually grew up terribly insecure about his voice, the ride I've been on this year will forever be a dream that I can always revisit. Seriously, I only reached that level because of all of you... from the very core of me, thank you so much.
Reaching this level, however, has had more than just the obvious effects. My perspective (pun fully intended) has shifted greatly. I see things much differently than I did at this same time in 2017. Am I contemplating the possibilities that are now before me? Of course. Have my opinions changed any due to "making it"? Yes & no. There are a lot things that I now realize I took for granted before, but there are just as many that I have learned aren't all they were supposedly cracked up to be. I always use the term "this side of the screen" to denote that my vantage point within the FGC is affected by not competing. Now, though, I finally understand that it's not just the point of view that's different, there is an entire world behind the scenes of what goes on within the FGC.
For the sake of argument, I won't go too far into detail, but I need you all to understand something VERY important: what you think you know is nary but a fraction of what actually goes on. For lack of any other way to describe it, the "machine" powering all of this is far, far, FAR more intricate & advanced than I ever gave it credit for. Looking back on it all now, coming to grips with my place in the gears of this industry has rattled my cage a bit. Just because I thought reaching this level would somehow douse the flames of my ambition doesn't necessarily make it so. People tend to forget that there is a very stark difference between "content" and "complacent". As I have said (on numerous occasions), complacency can be dangerous, but contentment can allow you to see where you are exactly and comfortably make the best decisions in terms of where to go next.
I'm in a good place right now, both personally & professionally. In a few short days, I'm going to come back (before we kick things off proper here in 2018) to share with you all where I think things may or may not be headed. Anything's possible, yes, but the rules & conditions are steadily changing... a lot of known knowns & known unknowns are becoming unknown unknowns and we all need to be ready for what's coming.
Until next time... keep fighting the good fight, my friends (and Happy New Year).