Nothing But A Humble Beginning

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When I was young, writing was a big deal.

Now, it’s become somewhat of a nuisance. I am surprised to find I am able to even spell nuisance without spellcheck, but moving onward. I decided to write a post about myself, as I am not as conceited as you may think, but I am proud to be a writer, a published author, and also one who has gone through the self-publishing process rather successfully.

You can read most of my chronicles about writing in my book, “Wings of Lead, Blood of Ink” but to summarize, I started very young. I must not have been any older than four when I started writing on my old edition Microsoft (before they even had an indicator of a year of release). I was no older than six when I wrote my first story on a computer, printed it out, and proceeded to share it with my teachers, who I credit most for my recognition as a writer.

The Go-To Guy

In elementary school I was the “go-to” guy for writing. I have memories of correcting teachers on spelling errors, and was winner of multiple spelling bees and four out of five of those years, I was honored as a guest writer (I think it was some sort of award system, but I do not recall the specifics). The one year I was not honored was the year I did not submit, as I was caught up in a Math Bee, which I still do not understand.

Ask me to divide any number by another and I will flip you off; ask me to write a soliloquy of 2,000 words on any given topic and you will have it in 30 minutes, It was also the year someone was formally laughed at by the entire school for his raunchy, albeit, pointless short story (the “winner” that year).

I have actually gotten in touch with many of my former teachers and have stayed in contact with them, as they were true educators – something I have yet to experience again (to my former middle school, high school, and college professors: I’m talking about you). Sunset Park Elementary (where I live near) will always be credited for my success as a writer, as well as a person. Perhaps that is where this post is going: a chronicled documentation of how something as simple as someone believing in you can make or break your chances in life.

You know what? Let’s lead this down that path.

Where It All Began

I was not quite shy, but not quite outspoken when I entered first grade. I was often the student who cracked jokes the students would not get, but the teacher always did, and I was praised for it because they knew I was not “that kid,” which is not something I cannot say about the aftermath I experienced in middle and high school, and even college. I found myself infatuated with writing, and they all knew it.

My first grade teacher, at some point, found I was finishing my work far too quickly. I never knew this until perhaps five years ago, but she actually went ahead and asked the Principal for permission to issue me fifth-grade work. Like I said, I did not know it at the time but I was consumed in completing – successfully – work almost five grades above my own. I was acknowledged for being smart…but that does not always land you a lot of friends.

I was bullied to an extent, but not to the degree where I was not acknowledged, too. I was never a “P.E.” kid, but I tried my best, and I think in elementary school no one is at the level of “bullying” just yet. Maybe I was and just did not realize it, but I do recall letting a number of students take advantage of me, copying my work. Though if that is the closest to “bullying” they could get, then I will accept it as a privilege.

Therein Lies The Problem

I was not as prepared for middle school than I was elementary school. Elementary school acknowledged intuition, and encouraged the gifted students (an alumni I was proud to belong to) to constantly question, constantly consider, and consistently move toward any opportunity that insists upon growth. Middle school, however, seemed to mix those students – of whom are prepared for the world – with those who were simply there for the ride. And this caused a segregation between the smart students and the dumb, albeit, “troublesome” students.

This is where true bullying began, and I can honestly say that it was middle school’s lack of acknowledgement that led to my dilemmas in high school, leading me to drop out and return only up until recently. The teachers were crap; the school system became crap; and if I recall, this was when 9/11 occurred, which made the adults on-edge, thus leading to multiple drills about potential bombings and some other silliness I won’t even get into.

It’s almost 20 years later. 9/11 never caused anything they prepared us for, but we wasted proper class time nonetheless preparing for paranoid occurrences that never happened. Nicely done, school system – you successfully instilled a sense of transference-based paranoia among a good 2,000 students who, except for a select few I still maintain a relationship with, traveled into high school unprepared for the real world.

Or rather, as a Psych major, these teachers needed to realize that they were dealing with students at an age where they are most prone to developing a stress-induced mindset. As human beings we are programmable, and all that silliness did was hardwire students for war, and dismantle any sense of peace. This caused the Millennial generation’s misfortune, and we will never be the same because of you. If you were one of them, pat yourself on the back, then I invite you to buy a bullet, rent a gun, and you know the rest.

Begets The Bygone

I actually do not remember much of middle school, except one particular asset that changed my life forever: the death of my grandfather. This was a man who raised me when others failed to do so (of whom I have forgiven). This, in retrospect, led me to my problems in high school, as such a death poisons the blood with anger and depression – facets of the Grieving Process I did not go through, and now I know why I was depressed.

High school was a different tale, and this was where bullying began…only I was on the wrong side of the table here.

She was a careless whisper, kind of that pale color you turn when you see a ghost, only this was a machine I was dealing with, and she fed on the souls of the phantoms found only in such a darkness applicable to death itself. I was fourteen when she lured me in, and it was a three-month window of time where everything changed. I may have jumped the gun here, and this was when I was indoctrinated into a different side of the equation: one that led to far more frightening things. In its own way, I thank her (with a middle finger in the air, mind you) for showing me why that darkness so many dwell in, can be as addicting as cocaine and as dismantling as love.

After her, everything changed. My choice in friends changed, yet they followed me into the hell I created; teachers’ opinions of me changed, and at one point I could swear many were more afraid of me than a grown man or woman should be; and the darkness came, and never left. This was when depression and anxiety became more than just a delusion; they became medical issues, and it landed me into a place I won’t go into. All I know is, it took my grandfather’s death and the torturous nature of a single girl, to change my face from a grinning jester to the much darker, more demonic epitaph that stands next to it. I was officially on the wrong side of the train, but it gets better – as much always does.

Finding My Way Back

I was not a bully, but was far from a saint. Addiction, demonic experiences (I kid you not but it was high school when I began to realize that yes, there is truly a Heaven and a Hell, and you can only guess which one I was in), and heroins of deceit. I won’t get too much into it, because this is not a sad tale. It led to me dropping out of high school, but I returned from that darkness. It may have taken years before I was able to return to the better side of myself, and as you can clearly see, I went through a lot.

And that’s where I have to stop, because everyone always says that about their lives. As a Counselor I have heard every story, and they all start with the same words: “You don’t know what I’ve been through.” Yeah, I kind of do. You went through nothing close to what I went through, and your story may be one of death, deceit, deception, death threats, imprisonment, prostitution, sexual or physical abuse…you name it, I will understand it, because high school was a blur and I did all of the former, and much more of the shit I will not even discuss because “you just wouldn’t understand” (as I said, all the same stories but all with a unique beginning).

I want to make mention here of one particular teacher I met in high school, and because I have yet to grow balls big enough to find her and contact her, just to say “thank you,” she may never read these words. But she provided some very good advice when I was at my worst, and I don’t know why but for some strange reason, I can remember this particular moment more than any other…I remember the words clear-as-day: “You’re battling your own demons, just like everybody else. Mind you, your demons may manifest themselves in a way I’ve never seen, but a lot of kids I know who are going through a lot still manage to find themselves.”

And I do owe her partial credit for returning me from the darkness – simply because of those words.

I dropped out of high school the next day. And I have to say that in retrospect, it was the wisest choice I have ever made. From there, I formed a company and became a web designer. Since then, I have counseled hundreds of people down from the ledge of twenty-story buildings; I have quite literally saved lives; I have experienced love; I have experienced hate; I have stood before courtrooms as a plaintiff, as well as a defendant; and I have owned and operated more companies than I can formally count on both hands. In other words, I may have returned to college and I plan to finish…but in 28 years, I have lived more than I have lost, and that is the point of life: to grow as a person, and recognize that as humans, we all have a past.

And we have to look back every now and then to determine where we stand at this point in our existences – no matter “what you have been through.”

The Ending? Nope.

That’s because there is no ending, and that is what much of my generation will never understand. There are only beginnings. Every ending is actually the beginning of something greater, and we tend to call them “endings” because we think that they led to nothing else, but that’s not the way to look at things. You have to look at it as, beginnings, with no endings. Otherwise you find yourself staring into a mirror feeling like there is nothing on the other side of it. I’ve torn mirrors off of walls, and guess what? On the other side there is only a frame that holds the mirror you were staring into.

And if you feel differently, see how far “endings” get you. I tried that route, and it didn’t work. Do you know why? Because the mirror is easy to break whereas the frame is hard, and useless – it’s purpose is to hold the mirror, and that is it. I guess what I am saying here is, stop blaming yourself, and start looking back at all of the beginnings you had, and write them down just like I am doing here.

I do not expect much to come from these words, as this blog entry was meant to facilitate a tale about myself, which you can actually find in “Wings of Lead, Blood of Ink” (click, damn you! CLICK! BUY! MONEY!). But I know my former teachers will read it, as I plan on sending this to them before I originally planned on publishing it months from now when I truly launch this website for good.

Thanks For That…

Thank you all. You may not have been there when I was at my worst, but at my best I can honestly say that I am the man I am today (and that’s the man I plan to stay) because you believed so wholeheartedly in me, that I was destined for success. And whether I ever truly find that success is up to me; I am the ringleader in this game we call “life” and I have to make the right choices to get to the top. But mind you, you cannot get to the top of anything if you fail to have a proper grounding beneath you, and you provided me that. I also thank many others, but for some reason I feel I needed to get this out.

Through words, we find a lot out about who we are, and why we may have done the rights or the wrongs in our pasts. That is why I always encourage people to write, or even record in some way vocally, that your past is not an ending, and it never stops continuance. As I said, there is only a beginning, and you have to write each beginning with a firm hand, because life may be tough, but that mirror will only continue to lie to you – if you let it.

Thank you for reading.

And this is just another tale of a true beginning…


Published by Ryan W. McClellan

Entrepreneur, Author & Business Consultant With A Background In Multimedia & Content Development

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