2 Years After It All Started

Two years ago today, I embarked on an incredible journey. One that allowed me to transverse this country I call home; meet hundreds of incredible individuals; and fine-tune my professional skills on multiple levels. To say it was life changing would be an understatement. However, as I'd soon learn, things don’t always end up the way you expect them to.

When I first began my journey, I had my heart set on writing and publishing a book of my exploits; a piece that would garner attention for writers, travelers and creative-types alike. In fact, upon my return, I actually wrote 15,000 words of dialogue for that very reason. The problem came when I was hunting for a designer, editor and publisher to help me put the final touches on it. Completely outside my wheelhouse, I found the hunt more daunting than I had ever anticipated and even today, I’m still not sure if I’ll ever succeed in releasing it.

On top of that, I recently made the decision to try my hand at operating as a full-time freelancer—a transition that's not exactly suited for the end of the year. However, circumstances beyond my control kind of forced my hand in the situation. So, I’m trying my hardest to make the best of it. Some days are challenging while others are extremely fulfilling, but my hope is the latter will eventually win out. To be honest, it’s all about finding a balance and making the right personal decisions in my life.

I know it’s a very odd thing to say, especially after focusing on this project for so long. But, I slowly began to realize the real world just doesn’t feel the same anymore. Especially after such an amazing experience. I just always feel as if there’s more I could be doing with my time. It’s a harsh anxiety that continually creeps up on me day-in and day-out; the result of being so busy for so long, no doubt. 

So, as I reflect back on the decisions that led me to this moment, I can’t help but wonder if I would change anything about the project—but the answer is always ‘No’. I may be at a personal crossroads right now, but that doesn’t mean The Great Agency Adventure was a failure in any shape or form. In fact, I consider it a rousing success. Even today, I still receive emails from individuals just discovering the site; people motivated and inspired by what we were able to create. I receive new likes on the Facebook page each and every week. I’m still in contact with many of the wonderful individuals I met along the way—some of whom are single-handedly keeping my afloat as a freelancer. I think it all boils down to the nature of the industry though. There's a constant ebb and flow and you have to accept both with the same level of determination. 

On a professional level, I truly believe the entire journey was rewarding not only for me, but also for those who were a part of it and anyone who’s ever wanted to go out on a limb and do something a little crazy. On a personal level, I can’t even begin to describe how much it's changed me for the better. It brought me out of my shell in ways I never thought possible. I was able to openly share my tales of ADHD for the first time; learn how to better communicate with strangers and deal with stressful situations; further hone my writing skills in an array of disciplines; adjust to different office environments and work styles; appreciate the difference in our regional cultures; and so much more.

I learned that being yourself and pursuing your passions are some of the best things you can ever do with your life. Help others. Be a good person. Strive for the best. Repay the kindness of strangers. These are all lessons I put into action every single day.

For 14 months, I wrote from the heart and shared every moment with the world. We became a family and grew an idea into an experience. I’m proud of what we accomplished together and I hope you are too. I know I’ll never forget the times we shared or the lives we touched.

Thank you again for joining me and standing by my side in both good times and bad. I’ll always remember to do the same for you.

Until we meet again, have a great two-year anniversary. It’s the perfect time to get out there and do something a little crazy.

All the best,

-Steve-

Good News & Bad News

Hello, everyone!

I know I’ve been fairly silent the past few months, but I assure you it’s because I am working hard behind the scenes. As most of you may remember, I began #TGAA with a goal in mind to write and publish a book about the journey. Well, now that time has passed and the project has come to an end, I have some good news and bad news regarding said goal.  

The good news is that I wrote an additional 12,105 words for the book—and I haven’t even written the final chapter yet! My current plan is to intermix these new insights and opinions amongst the blog posts everyone followed along with and a majority of the photos I captured along the way. In all, that would make the book around 100,000 words in length. Being that I’ve never written a book before, I’m not 100% sure if that’s a good length, but I’m certainly proud of it.

The bad news is that in the past couples weeks it has become abundantly clear that I am unable to afford a proper editor to help me get my thoughts in order. On top of that, I haven’t had any luck securing—or gaining the interest—of a publisher. So, as it stands right now, I’m trying to hunt down a very generous designer and editor who can help me get a beautiful digital version together, which I can then throw up on the project website.

I just wanted to keep everyone out there informed and apologize that this process is taking so long. It turns out it’s much easier to plan a 14-month cross-country trip than it is to get a book made. Who knew?

If anyone would like to help me, donate their time or offer any suggestions, please feel free to reach out to me. As far as I’m concerned, this project isn’t officially over until the book is out and available for all.

I’ll share more updates as they become available.

-Steve-

66 Days Later

In parts 1 and 2, I outlined some of the most important career- and creative-centric morsels I took away from #TGAA. Well, in this final installment, I’d like to close out by talking about a more personal impression the project had on me. 

If you’ve been following along since the very beginning, you’ll remember my posts about the ADHD medicine I'd been on since childhood and how I stopped taking it in my first couple months on the road. It was a really big deal to me, because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I didn’t know a “me” that didn’t exist without that medication. Would I gain weight? Would my attitude change? What about my ambitions? Could I even focus enough on the project to make it a success? Would there be any other side effects?

I had a litany of questions rattling around in my brain, as I watched my pill bottle get emptier and emptier each morning. Then the day came when I took the final one. I remember letting out a large 'sigh', before tossing the bottle into the kitchen trashcan. Then, I left for the office and never looked back. I knew, in that moment, that no matter how much I changed, I had to finish #TGAA—and finish strong.

The months came and went and I did find it a bit harder to concentrate, but that was it. As far as I could tell, all of the side effects I had feared never came to pass. In fact, I found myself becoming more positive, social and easy-going. I was beyond thrilled. Honestly, looking back, I don’t think I could’ve completed the project on my meds. They had made me so paranoid and anxious that some of the things I dealt with along the way surely would’ve derailed the entire journey.

Of course, I didn’t do any of this alone. I owe so much to the people I met along the way. The ones who made me feel welcome and appreciated. The ones who showed curiosity for what I was doing and those who provided a helping hand. After all, it’s pretty nerve-racking to get off meds after 20+ years. It’s an entirely different beast when you do it away from the comfort of friends and family. So, to that end, I truly owe everyone a debt of gratitude because you helped me through it—without even realizing it.

In fact, I can say—without a shadow of a doubt—that this journey has made me a better person in more ways than I can even count. It truly feels as if I’m beginning an entirely new chapter in my life. There was life before #TGAA. Now, there’s life after #TGAA. I’m still not 100% sure what it holds for me, but I do know I’m going to make the most of my time by becoming more involved, sharing whatever I can and being the best creative I can possibly be.

This project was probably the first time many of you had ever heard of me, but I assure you it will not be the last. There’s still so much left to do and it would be an honor to do it with all of you—side-by-side.

See you soon!

-Steve-