I have some of the best friends in the world.

But believe me, there weren’t always times where I could say that. When I was little, my best friend was my dog Buttercup. She was little just like me. We grew up together. In fact, I attribute much of my sports success to her. When I was learning how to play baseball, she loyally chased the ball down all day until she couldn’t walk anymore.

When I was playing basketball, she would be my makeshift defender. She didn’t quite understand basketball that much, but she played her heart out. As time went on however, she became much older, and very fast. Probably because she ate some snail bait and later some other type of poison. I think that took some good years off her life. I couldn’t bear to see her struggling in the vet. My dog, my best friend. I won’t lie, thinking about her brings tears to my eyes. I miss her so damn much.

I keep the picture above in my wallet, and on bad days look at it. That dog was something else. We used to take her on fishing trips up in the Sierra’s and she would bound over and along the rocks with us until we found good fishing holes. Then she would sit patiently by waiting for me to hook up on a trout and would go bezerk when I did. We probably kept her alive for longer than we should have. In her later years her back legs went, probably from all the baseball together, and she really seemed to be in pain.

In my high school years, me and her kind of grew apart. Not because of me not liking her anymore, but because I was going through some hard times. When she was put down, I didn’t cry. Thinking about it now, I realize how damaged I was during those times. I lost my best friend and didn’t even feel anything. Well, much has changed. I can’t tell you how hard this just was to write. She truly was, a man’s best friend.

I think I should have been born in the Cowboy era. Things were much simpler back then. Jump on your horse and go. Didn’t matter where, you could just go and go for miles. If you needed to get away, there was always a Frontier waiting to be discovered. But most importantly, you could be at peace.

Today, we live in such a hectic world. Everything is performance based, $ based, looks based, that it is really easy to lose track of yourself. And if you do, its easy to lose it forever. That definitely happened to me. I am just getting back to what I truly want to be. I lost it, and honestly, I probably lost it since I was about 13. High school was okay for me like I said in the past post, but by no means was it great. I had a hard time making a core group of friends and fitting in.

I did make some great friends in high school, but I was trampled by a few that I thought were very close to me. During that time, I was a doormat…for a while at least. The problem with becoming tired of being a doormat, is that you become the polar opposite. Theres no middle ground, you get angry. And if I had to do it all over again, I would have stayed a doormat. Anger within you is like a ticking time bomb.

If you let it tick for too long…boom. I made some terrible decisions because of being clouded by personal issues and by anger. I hurt people that were close to me, I put myself in places where I had no business going, and in the end I ended up hurting myself. This continued all the way through till Spring quarter last year. You know how people always say that there will be one event that will change your life? Yeah, now I know what they are talking about.

What happened has no business being written here, and frankly, doesn’t even matter enough to be spoken about anymore.

But I can tell you what I learned. Among hundreds of other things…patience. Let me tell you, theres no better time to rebuild a city then right after its been leveled to the ground. Here s why. When that happens, you can pick which buildings you want to rebuild (compassion, determination, love) and which ones you are going to leave crumbled (anxiety, anger, grudges).

There were times where I felt like giving up. And by giving up, I mean giving up completely. Quit school, quit working out, quit on myself. This is when my heart knew what I stood for…never quitting. I could’t put it into words at the time, but there it was, right at the core of me. So, despite everything, I stood back up. Theres a great Eminem line where he said that he fell so hard he bounced twice when he hit rock bottom. That CD about recovering from everything, was in my Ipod 24/7.

It wasn’t at all easy. Every day was a struggle. Anxiety, ups and downs, and every emotion in between. But I learned one thing about myself. I have a surplus of resilience in me. Sometimes it comes out in stubbornness, which drives my mother crazy (love you mom), but most of the time its a positive thing. No matter what happens in your life, you always have a choice. Never think that you don’t. You can decide to be angry and hate filled, or you can forgive, and not just the other person, but yourself.

What I mean by this is one of the important things I learned. Its not easy to forgive other people for bad things that have happened, trust me I know. But, its even harder to look yourself in the mirror and forgive yourself for putting yourself in a bad position. Remember, in life we always have choices. The choices that we make, although sometimes being blind to the consequences, are 100% within our control. Too often we make the choice that will give us immediate satisfaction, rather than long-term peace of mind. The moment you can begin thinking about things from all different angles is a very valuable moment.

In that Spring quarter last year, I wrote 275 pages in my journal. It was interesting to look back on it quickly flipping through the pages because the size of the writing changed. At first it was very small and precise, then getting bigger and more vigorous, and then the same cursive that I write in today. While a great deal of those pages were dealing with the same thing and asking the same questions over and over again, they eventually did evolve towards the end. I became more comfortable with myself, and more forgiving.

I’ll be honest with you, I lost sight of God throughout the years, but in those hard times, I found him again. Without him, well, I couldn’t tell you where I would be. My sister and I took the most amazing trip to Italy and Greece, and I will post more about it later, but it was the experience of a lifetime. Being removed from it all recharged my batteries and let me absorb life again. When I came back, I thought I would have forgotten about everything, but I didn’t. In fact, I became really agitated that it didn’t all just disappear from my life. It was probably unreasonable for me to think it would vanish.

Where am I going with all this?
Be patient. Be patient with yourself. If your not where you want to be, then put in the work to get there, but you have to remember to give yourself a chance. We live in a day and age surrounded by people offering you quick fixes to your problems, your pain, your weight…and everything else. But all good things are worth the blood, sweat, and tears. If you want to achieve something, then you have to be ready to accept all that comes with that goal.

No shortcuts, no cheating.

But most importantly, you have to be patient with yourself. I struggle every day with giving myself the time that I need to do the things that I want to do. I also struggle to break the habits that I have formed over the past 21 years of my life. This is why writing this blog is so great, because it keeps me accountable. There will always be times where you are trashed, let down, heartbroken, or punished for things that may or may not have been deserved. These cards are simply dealt to us and we rarely have any say. But like any poker game, you have the chance to fold or keep playing in life. And for me, playing is always better than quitting.

Evan Sanders
The Better Man Project