I was an unusual kid.
I didn’t do the things most of my friends did. Sports weren’t my thing (still aren’t), video games bored me, and I was extremely shy. No surprise that I wasn’t invited to many sleepovers.
The garage became my sanctuary.
Some of my best memories were waking up on Saturday mornings to the sound of my dad’s power saw buzzing away. It was like code for: “we’re going to spend all day working on a project.”
My parents live in a home built in the early Twentieth century, so as you can imagine, many Saturdays began with a project.
I learned some important lessons in that garage. Things like: how to rip a sheet of plywood, rebuild an engine, weld things together, counter-sink a screw. I also learned that gasoline smells better than it tastes, dropping a crescent wrench on your eye really hurts, never trust your life to a hydraulic jack, and punching things out of frustration doesn’t solve any problems.
I also learned the importance of solitude. Working alone with nothing but my own thoughts and challenges to overcome.
The other thing it taught me was how to be content and resourceful within constraints. You see, our garage was not like most garages. It was tiny. It leaked. It had no electricity. We had to string an extension cord 50 feet from the house to the garage for power.
But the most important lessons I learned didn’t have anything to do with any of that.
1. It is important to know who you are and what you’re good at.
Being different doesn’t always feel good, but it can be a good thing. It’s taken me a long time and a lot of not feeling good to figure this out. What I’ve learned about myself is that all that time in the garage ingrained in me a desire to create. It’s a key part of who I am and I’m finally learning how to accept and embrace that.
2. Who you are and what you’re good at is not an excuse to avoid things you don’t like.
This is one my wife has been challenging me to think about. Being different is not an excuse to avoid the things you’re not good at. You see, I have this tendency to run from things that I don’t do perfectly right off the bat. Just because I love to create and work by myself is not an excuse to avoid things that don’t fit into my ideal world.