Career Day at Taylor High

It’s 1989. I’m a senior. And, I’m hanging out in the library listening to the Q102 Morning Zoo. At the time, the Zoo was the most popular radio show program in the metropolitan area. And, they’re running a “Name that Tune” contest. You know where the DJ plays a small clip of a song and caller number ten or some other number gets the chance to “Name That Tune” by guessing both the title of the song and the name of the artist. So, with “Callers are you ready”, the Zoo starts playing the song. I know the song immediately. I know it from the very first note. Hell, I cringe upon hearing it. When this song first came out, my sister used to play it in her bedroom, on repeat. Endless repeat. And, we lived in a small house. So, there was no not having to listen to this song when she was listening to it. At one time, I thought this song was kind of cool. But, now, I loathe this song. Anyways, the Zoo comes back from commercial break and asks “Caller number ten what’s that song?” Caller number ten answers “You’re my Angle by Aerosmith”. I drop my head in disappointment. The Zoo starts rolling in laughter. They’re like “Dude, it’s not Angle, it’s Angel!” And, caller number ten, he’s not embarrassed. No. Not at all. He wants to get in on the joke. So, he says self-mockingly “Well, I do go to Taylor.”  And, with that, the Morning Zoo rolls even harder and says “Yes you do.”

Now, this may no longer be true. But, when I was here, people outside of us did not expect much of us. And, when I graduated, I was determined to prove the Zoo and anyone outside the 45052 wrong. So, I took that snub and archived it in my “Museum of Slights, Wrongs and Insults”. Some people have a chip on their shoulder. I have a museum. It’s where I carefully preserve every perceived offense, injustice and questioning of my honor by others. Each artifact is accompanied by a small bronze plaque engraved with dates, names and succinct synopses.

This museum motors me.

It motors me like a 1988 Monte Carlo SS.

I want to be the best.

Am I the best?

Not yet.

Am I on the path?


How do I know?

Because there’s only one path:



And, share what you make.

That’s the path.

You’re either on it or you’re not.

It’s that simple.

But, damn, if there aren’t plenty of hitting-the-alarm-at-five-in-the-morning mornings when I don’t feel like walking the path. And, on those kinds of mornings, I’ll stare into the ceiling and tour my “Museum of Slights, Wrongs and Insults”. I’ll visit its fully immersive and interactive displays, relive moments of diminishment and feel once again the burning shame of heart-gripping embarrassments. That is, until AC/DC’s Thunderstruck starts blaring out of the museum’s loud speaker. That’s when something inside me starts to roil. And, I’ll kick back the covers, get out of bed and start walking the path singing “na na na na na na na na na na”.

Like I said this museum motors me.

Now, this behavior is kind of odd. I admit that. And, it’s not necessarily healthy. I admit that too. Indeed, if I stay past visiting hours (which I sometimes do), my “Museum of Slights, Wrongs and Insults” can fill me with immense insecurity. And, instead of kicking back the covers and getting out of bed, I’ll go next door and visit my “Hall of Failures”. I’ll peruse past “We’re sorry to inform you” rejection letters encased in glass. And, as you can imagine, this inflames my insecurities. But, there’s something worse. Much worse than that. Sometimes my “Museum of Slights, Wrongs and Insults” and “Hall of Failures” merge into a dark, nightmarish columned monstrosity. And, if and when they do that, my insecurities are at risk of transfiguring into self-pitying grievance.

What’s that?

You may know someone who’s always complaining and pointing to others to explain their failures. As an outside observer, you know they’re responsible. But there’s no willingness on their part to take ownership. They blame others. Others are out to get them. Others are holding them back. That’s self-pitying grievance. Oh, it’s dangerous. And, it puts off a horrendous nose-pinching stench that pushes everyone away, leaving this person feeling isolated. Well, they are isolated. But, instead of stepping outside of themselves and acknowledging their part in pushing people away, they interpret their isolation (which is of their own making) as validation of their narrative (their false narrative) that everyone is against them. This pushes more people away, leaving them feeling more isolated. They become trapped in a vicious, self-reinforcing cycle of isolation.

When I was younger, I could get trapped in that cycle. Anyone too different than me was an immediate threat to me. I took that into the world. Luckily, over time, as I got more secure in who I was, where I was from and how I was raised, I started taking more ownership. This took some time. But before that, I know my insecure ways pushed a lot of good people away. It’s one of my regrets in life. Because, in life, we’re here to meet other people. And, let me let you in on a secret: the world is primarily and abundantly full of good people, awesome people. Yeah, of course, every once in a while, you’ll bump into a “born on third thinking they hit a triple” dickhead. But they’re in the minority.

And, here’s another secret: “Angle” or “Angel”, it does not matter. Hell, I still have to think twice before spelling “Wednesday”. What’s most important in life is your mindset – how you view, interpret and take in this world while walking the path.

And, what’s the path?



And, share what you make.

That’s the path.

The only path.

Now, I’m going to be honest with you, walking the path means putting what you make out into the world for scrutiny, mixing it up and putting it to the test. And, when you do that, there’s always the chance of getting hurt, made fun of and failing.

I know.

I fail.





There’s no escaping this. Because, that’s the path. It is peppered with failures: AC/DC’s, Aerosmith’s and every other band or human that has ever made art, built a business, or tried to make a difference. So, when you fail, which you will, because you are human, own every misstep and mistake. Then get back to work at getting better. Because, there’s also love, praise and encouragement waiting for you out there.

“na na na na na na na na na na”


If you enjoyed this blog, you may enjoy my Halftime Speeches monthly email.

Thanks. – shawn