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Andrew Luck: A Human Story – Nigel Gordon


Andrew Luck via New York Times

I was listening to a recent episode of Bill Simmons’ latest podcast, and he was lamenting the impending media/internet shit storm over the sudden and shocking Andrew Luck retirement. Boy, was he right. People have come out of the wood work to either deliver painfully tone deaf comments, or praise his courage. It’s a polarizing story, but it’s also a human story. A quarterback with all of the god given gifts you could ask for, and he retires at age 29. It seemed preposterous. But then-it’s not. The myriad of injuries he has suffered is tremendous. Lacerated spleen, broken ribs, and who knows how many concussions. In watching Andrew Luck’s impromptu press conference, I found myself enchanted for the oddest reasons. It made me reflect on my own life, and our fleeting sense of happiness. One day you can be perfectly happy and content, the next you are at a crossroads in life, feeling stagnated. Andrew Luck has enough money to retire comfortably, and he should do what makes him happy. When someone says that the joy was taken away, that tells you everything you need to know.

I once left a job because I was so unhappy, that the money started to become secondary. I dreaded going to work every day. The environment was toxic, the support system was haphazard, and the group morale was very low. It was eery to me that when I started, everyone around me was quitting or had quit. It was ironically the most money I had ever made, and the most stable job/hours I had ever had. I even got a pretty nice raise that I felt was undeserved. I hadn’t yet proved myself, but here was a piece of validation that said otherwise. As the months went on, I just simply could not see a scenario where I was happy there. I had a co-worker at that job, who was incredibly bright, astute, and is the reason I landed the job. Two conversations with her stood out. She asked, “Do you really want this job?” My response was a wise ass “Well, I know that I need a job.” I had just been let go from a job that I genuinely liked and I felt I was growing with the company. Two weeks before, my boss, who had never messaged me privately before, sent me a message on AIM (Yeah, seriously) and asked if I could meet him in the conference room. He said they were moving on, but can you stay on for a few more weeks? My last day was Thanksgiving Eve. So you can imagine the awkwardness the next day when I got the proverbial “So, how’s work?” question.

The other thing she said that stood out was again gear towards trepidation involving this job. Both were warnings. I asked her a nice easy softball question “So how do you like it?” Her response was very direct, blunt and dead serious “It will ruin you.” At first I thought she meant the job, then I realized she was talking about living in New York City. 3 years later I think she meant both. Either way, she was right.

October will be 3 years since I moved to Manhattan. It had always been a life long dream. It was a place that was only an hour and change train ride, but it felt like a different world. All of my friends conquered it in their early to mid 20s. So at Age 28, I quit my job, sold my car, got rid of my apartment, and moved to New York City. I spent a few months unemployed, blew threw almost all of my savings, and grinded. I eventually did get a job working for a great company. No complaints there. It’s been a weird journey, but I am thankful for the opportunity.

The intensity of New York City is real. It’s unrelenting. It will beat you down in every way possible if you aren’t careful. It was, and still is, the place to be. However, I often wonder if the juice is worth the squeeze. Lately, I am feeling that it’s just not anymore. Sure, it is fun. There’s no place like it. That being said, I have visited a few other places recently, mainly parts of California and Texas. It was there that I realized something. I was having fun. That’s what triggered something inside of me. It took being somewhere else, having childlike genuine fun, to realize I wasn’t having that seem feeling in New York City. There’s no room for dreams and wishes in Manhattan. You either get it done or you’ll be crushed by someone who is more grounded in reality. I’ve kicked around the idea of moving recently, more than I have in several years. This is where I come back to Andrew Luck. You give so much to something, and you hope it loves you back. I have sacrificed many weekends, holidays, nights outs — for work.

Andrew Luck internally realized that he was too beaten down physically and emotionally to continue on his current path. Now, I have certainly never had a 300 pound freak athlete pummel me into the grass, but I resonated with the emotional toll. Sometimes it proves to be too much, and you realize you have to move on. I love the city, but sometimes it doesn’t love you back. I’ve tried every which way to make it work, but it has lead me to a stagnated cycle of lateral moves. Perhaps a different approach or setting will alleviate some of this. Maybe it won’t. But it’s certainly paramount to take a proactive step to find out. You can’t put a price tag on peace of mind.

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