As I Turn 30 Years Old … A Reflection on my 20’s

This is a non-tea related post in most ways. However, I feel this day and tomorrow are life changing days. My ability to clearly communicate thoughts and ideas through writing is superior to my verbal skills (in my opinion), so I intend to use this blog this one time for personal reflection on the past decade of my life.

Tonight is the last night of my third decade on this planet. Tomorrow, I will be thirty years old. It is amazing to look back at the last ten years, and amazing to see how dreams and goals change over that time. Ten years ago, I was a typical soon to be twenty year old, somewhat confused in what I wanted to do with my life. I was in between colleges, in between relationships, constantly trying to find the path to fulfillment. In those days, I looked in all of the wrong places for fulfillment. Luckily for me, out of all of the bad decisions I made, I was able to find a path out of that life.

While completing my bachelor degree in Accounting, I constantly followed the advice of the published salary outlooks for soon to be college grads. With accounting being on the higher end of the salary outlooks, and math and analysis being my strengths, I decided to go with that, just wanting to make as much money as possible as quickly as I could. I look back at what a foolish decision that was, to chase the idea of quick money, and not chase a dream of personal fulfillment through loving what I do, even if I do not get rich doing it.

I graduated college with decent grades, moved back and forth from home searching for new and exciting opportunities that never lived up to the expectations. In January and February of 2008, I was completely lost. I was sitting at a desk doing nothing fulfilling. I was out drinking way too much with friends. My relationship had fallen apart, ending an engagement. I felt like I had nothing.

My older brother then came to me, asking for my help in starting a business with him in Asheville, North Carolina. I jumped on the opportunity, despite being offered another job in Pittsburgh that had some promise for upward movement in the future. I worked 60 to 70 hours a week for months with my brother, just to have the chance to somewhat control my own fate and move away from Pittsburgh. Then we opened a second location in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Things were getting exciting again.

Well, the excitement for the business did not last long. The economy had bottomed out right at this time, and Myrtle Beach had it’s lowest number of vacationers in years. The business was not doing well. However, all that time, effort, and stress was about to pay off in non-monetary ways.

I had hired two great people from Moldova, who had come to the U.S. as part of a summer work program. While training the one person, I saw a beautiful young woman walk past my space in the mall. My worker saw that I had noticed this woman, and asked if I wanted to meet her. Thinking he meant at a later time, I excitedly said yes. Well, he ran down the hallway of the mall after this girl. Feeling a bit caught off guard, I did my best to be personable and respectful to her. My employee and this woman spoke Romanian to one another, which I knew nothing of. I just looked at them, smiled, shook my head as if I had some idea of what was going on, and tried to be polite.

This moment is the single moment that began me on the path that I currently am following. After only a month and a half of knowing this woman, we decided to take a huge risk with one another. Two weeks later, I married my wife, Alina, in the Horry County courthouse in South Carolina. We knew each other for two months before getting married. We just celebrated our five year anniversary one month ago today.

Wow, has Alina helped me over these years, and not without pain in doing so. Over these five years, my alcohol bar in my gameroom has been fully converted to a tea bar, and all by my choice, not any demand of my wife. Aside from helping me overcome many bad habits, Alina introduced me to loose leaf tea. Since that time, she has remained a rational tea drinker, while I have become a complete tea enthusiast. She has also remained a loyal companion, despite my many flaws.

As I look back on my 20’s, I see much time that was wasted on foolish activities and meaningless endeavors. I also see that pivotal moment in 2008, when my life took an entirely different and unexpected path. With the birth of my son, Alex, in 2011, my life has taken on even more meaning. As I watch him develop in every way, including becoming a tea drinker himself (he loves oolong), I cannot imagine ever going back to those selfish days that dominated the first twenty seven years of my life.

Now, I am approaching the age of thirty. I am only hours away, and yet I feel more confident and more excited for the next ten years. I have a beautiful family. I am becoming an expert of a topic that I have a true passion for (tea), and the founder and soon to be official co-owner of a tea company, Hē Chá Tea. I am highly confident that this company will be successful, but even if it is not, it has been a wonderful experience in learning the tea industry. I am confident that I am walking the path to be a part of an industry that I want to be a part of. I am confident that the next ten years with my family will be better than the first five. I am prepared to be the better person that everyone, including myself, needs me to be.

What a feeling this is, to look ahead and see the clouds of confusion thinning, and the light of fulfillment shining through. Not the fulfillment through tangible possessions, but the fulfillment through the intangible. Family, passion, wisdom, and tea.

May the next ten years allow me to reach my fullest potential. May they give me the wisdom and patience and love to be the best husband and father that I may be. May they give me the intelligence, humility, respect, and opportunities to succeed through my passion. May they give me the willpower to always continue my self-improvement. Finally, may they give me the ability to always find the time to be at peace, and be grateful for all of the blessings that have guided me to where I am today.

If you gotten this far, then thank you for reading my personal reflection on the past ten years. This post has been my official turning of the page from my 20’s to my 30’s. And now … back to TEA!