371 Days and Brutal Honesty

371 days. That’s how many days it’s been since I’ve posted on this blog. In my last post “Destined for More,” I talked about assuming my life was going to be glorious and grand in Sioux Falls. I even went so far as to say, “Simply put: I’m destined for more, and that’s not in Spearfish.” Welp…I was wrong. My, oh my, how life has changed in less than a year.

Since leaving the Hills on May 7, 2016, life has been a chaotic, wild, difficult ride. Two unfulfilling jobs. Two lackluster cities. One disappointing year.

When I moved to Sioux Falls, I was so optimistic for the future. I assumed I had it all figured out. I very quickly discovered that wasn’t the case. After very quickly hitting burnout in Sioux Falls, I decided not only do I need a change of job, I decided I needed a change of scenery. I ended up 720 miles in the opposite direction in Billings, Mont.

Very similarly, after arriving in Billings, I was very optimistic. I had big dreams and big hopes for what life could be like. Unfortunately, the optimism wore off and the dreams faded as I discovered the realities of my place of employment.

Suddenly, in January 2017, it hit me: I’m completely alone in Billings. Sure, I have acquaintances here that I’ve met and long lost friends I’ve tried to reconnect with. But adult life is so hectic to invest in those relationships. Otherwise, I’m 300 miles from my closest friends and 700 miles from my family. On top of that, I’ve been balling on a very strict budget for a long while now, restricting me from taking adventures into the mountains.

Speaking of adventures, they told me that Billings is the gateway to an outdoor paradise. What they didn’t tell me is that it takes at least an hour one-way to get to said paradise. Unless I feel like driving 120 miles round-trip, I’m not going hiking any time soon. Within the city of Billings, there’s places to walk around and get some exercise. But hiking is my biggest release and it’s how I recharge mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Soon after my devastating realization in January, I feel into something I’ve never experienced before: a dark, deep, harrowing depression. My otherwise consistent optimist spirit disappeared. My hours of sleep skyrocketed. My social interaction disintegrated. My view of the future became bleak.

Two separate weekends this spring, I had the opportunity to go back to the Black Hills. In total, I was only in the Hills for seven days, but those were the most stress-free seven days since moving away from my beloved Hills. However, every time it was time for me to say goodbye, the darkness set in again.

As I was driving back to my house in Billings after a weekend in Spearfish and crossed the Montana state line on the interstate, I nearly broke down into tears. I realized then that I didn’t want to be there anymore.

All too often, I found myself experiencing another phenomena that I’d never experienced before, at least not to this depth: severe homesickness. There were nights I would sit in my office (I don’t have internet at my house. How sick is that?!) and get onto Google Maps and look at the Street View of both Spearfish and Mitchell (where I grew up), hoping they would offer some condolences because it was a familiar sight. Much like a drug, it offered a temporary fix, but as soon as reality set back in, I was back in my dark place in my head.

My college friends Scott (affectionally referred to as “Other Scott” or “Better-Looking Scott”) and Josh created a video on their YouTube page (LaSmuge) telling their life stories. At one point in the video, Scott made a comment that was obvious but dawned on me in a new light that night: “If I’m not happy where I’m at…I can just leave.”

Armed with this new insight, I decided enough is enough. I’ve officially begun the process of moving home, back to the Black Hills. Although I haven’t had any official job offers yet, I remain optimistic. 2016 Scott was wrong: my “destined for more” destination is bringing me right back to where it all started and where my heart has found peace: the Black Hills.

“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

(Photo Courtesy: BlackHillsTheHike.com)


Destined for more

WordPress reminded me today that it has been 23 days since I last posted. TWENTY THREE DAYS. I’m sorry. I’ve been struggling to find motivation to do anything not directly related to my first big-boy job that starts two days after I graduate. For those of you who don’t know, I’m moving to Sioux Falls in May to begin my career.

As much as some might hate to hear this excuse, but it’s also an opportunity to start over again. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved living here in the Black Hills. A piece of my heart will always be here in the Hills. But it’s time for something new. Life is divided into seasons, literally and figuratively. This has been a three-year-long season that is coming to a close. When the season in life ends, a new season is about to begin, complete with its own opportunities, trials, and adventures.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve become progressively more and more discontent. I’ve become restless. I’m constantly looking forward to what lies ahead. At the time, I felt guilty for not living for the moment and seeing what’s right in front of me. I had a very disgruntled post on Instagram a few weeks back, and my grandma saw it. She then sent me a message that read in part: “Your discontent with college life is a sign you are ready to go places! Remember that but enjoy these last couple weeks.” Simply put: I’m destined for more, and that’s not in Spearfish.

I’m not sure what lies beyond. I don’t know if I’ll be in Sioux Falls for a year, five years, or my entire career. But what I do know is that I’ve been placed in Sioux Falls for a reason. I didn’t choose Sioux Falls; it’s the place where I will be used most for however long I’m there.


It’s the little things

How often do we walk around every day and miss the little things in life? Some things that seem so menial but could make the biggest impact or make you smile the most?

For example, a couple weeks ago, we had one of our insanely windy days here in the Hills. I was walking across campus back to my radio station office. I glanced up and walking toward me was a girl who was fed up with the wind. She attempted and failed to keep her hair from blowing in her face. She and I made eye contact and for some reason or another, I just started laughing. I wasn’t laughing at her; I was just laughing at the mutual situation we found ourselves in. My laugh caused a smile to creep across her face and I was close enough to ask, “Are you gonna be okay?” She smiled and said, “Yeah, I think so.”

In the grand scheme of things, this probably wasn’t the most impactful thing she’s ever encountered. But it may have made her day that day. Keeping an eye open for situations like that to make an impact on someone else will help them stay positive, and help you keep others first in your life.

Also take the time to appreciate the things around you. This afternoon, I was walking back to campus, and I took a brief moment to take in the stunning Northern Hills scenery that surrounded me. Nothing changed from the first day I moved to Spearfish, but it struck me as extra beautiful today. Little things can make an impact if you take the time to notice.

What would life look like if we all were on the lookout for the little things in life? Someone drops a book in the hall, pick it up for them. An older woman doesn’t have enough to pay for her coffee at the coffee shop, pay for her. You notice a person behind you in the drive-thru at Taco John’s, ask the drive-thru employee to add their check on to yours. These may not seem like very big things, but at the end of the day, it could change someone’s outlook on life.


“You’re gonna miss this…”

On Monday, I was officially hired to my first full-time job after I graduate. I’ll be packing a trailer the night of graduation to leave the next morning. In May, I will no longer call the Black Hills home. After a little under a week to consider this, I decided to reflect on some of the things I’ll miss about living in the Black Hills.

  1. Pure, natural beauty. — Everyday, I walk to campus with an absolutely stunning backdrop. The little valley that our city is tucked away in gives incredible views of the surrounding Hills and peaks. Living less than a half hour away from the pure majesty of one of the most under-appreciated areas of the country will be difficult. Instead of saying, “Which trail should I hike today?” like I did all summer, it’ll be, “Where can I go to get lots of fresh air and exercise?” I know, there are very few places like the Hills, and I know I’ll still have that adventurous spirit in me, but living this close to nature’s majesty sure has a way of keeping things in perspective.
  2. The bi-polar weather. — Winter in most northern states means 4-6 months of bitter cold, snow, and arctic winds. But here in the Black Hills, we get blasted with blizzards then watch the snow melt a few days later because it’s back in the 50s, only to watch it snow again over the weekend. The random beautiful days we get are truly the icing on the cake. Or the snowcap on Crow Peak, if you will.
  3. Black Hills State University — As much as I’m ready to graduate and begin my career, I will definitely miss the college life. BHSU has been nothing but incredible for me. Moving here was one of the best decisions I’ve made so far, and I will never be able to thank the University enough for the opportunities that it presented me with. The friendships I’ve built here (for the most part) will stick with me for a long, long time to come.
  4. Spearfish Canyon — Similar to #1, the Canyon is one of my absolute favorite places in the Hills. The two-lane road that winds its way through the Canyon is a gorgeous stretch of road that I would recommend anyone to take at some point. The endless hiking trails provided hours and hours of adventures, journeys, and reflection.
  5. The people. — Overall, there’s a true genuineness about the people here in the Hills. The relaxed nature of the Hills, the low population, and the limited access create a sense of security that the residents reflect in how they treat outsiders. Visitors are welcomed with open arms and shown the true beauty of the Hills.
  6. The incredible drives. — This past summer, I had the opportunity to work for a DJ service that traveled all around the Hills. En route to the venues, I got the chance to drive down some of the prettiest roads in South Dakota. The fact that beautiful drives aren’t uncommon here is something I take for granted all too often.

Life will change dramatically in about three months. But the Black Hills will always hold a special place in my heart.

“Is it time we test the test?”

This video perfectly explains my beef with the modern education system. That’s the thing: “The problem with your system is that it’s just a system.” Being the son of a teacher, I understand and value the importance of education. I’m in my 18th year of education as a senior in college, including Pre-K and kindergarten. But where has the value of practical education gone?

As I was sitting through my last math class my freshman year of college, I was thinking to myself, “When is the next time I’ll have to find the sum of the value ‘x’ in everyday life?” The answer thus far: exactly zero. This is true as well with other courses. I’ve taken all of the generals: biology, physics, world history, math, and the like. However, the one thing schooling has taught me the last few years: I have a strong ability to regurgitate. I learned what I had to for the test then pushed it out of my brain to make room for the next test.

And what about life-skill training? Why don’t we have more classes in personal finance, real world finances (taxes, car payments, house payments, college loans), and social media marketing. The world is constantly changing. If we are stuck in yesterday, we will not be competitive tomorrow.

In the video above, one of my favorite quotes is this: “There’s not a Scantron in the world that can measure inspiration.” Just because someone can’t take a test doesn’t mean they’re not brilliant. There are many successful individuals who, at some point, were considered “unsuccessful” in the schooling realm, including Mark Zuckerberg, Matt Mullenweg (founder of WordPress.com), and David Karp (founder of Tumblr), just to name a few. None of the men listed above actually have a college degree, yet their combined net worth is in the billions.

Our society places such a high priority on college degrees. But how many students are working at jobs that are completely unrelated to their degree of study? Were those four to six years and thousands of dollars worth it?

Why are we so adamant about testing? Why is our scholastic culture so wrapped up in your GPA? A wise man once told me, “Unless you’re pursuing grad school or the medical field, no one will ask about your college GPA.” A degree is a degree. Period. Once you land your first job, your degree basically won’t matter. Don’t get me wrong. I value my degree. It’ll help me land my first job. However, after that, it’s all networking and professional skill building.

I’ve cherished my time as a college student. And I’m very ready to be done with school. But the time will come where no one will ask, “What’s your major?” Instead, I’ll be asked, “Where have you worked in the past and what did you do while there?”

What college didn’t do for me

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve thoroughly valued my time in college. My college experience has opened doors for me I never thought were possible, has helped me network with tons of professionals in my field, and given me a direction in life. However, my college experience didn’t fully prepare me for what lies ahead in just over three months. Here’s a short list of what college didn’t do for me.

  1. Working 9-5 (or a full 8-hour shift, whatever the hours are) — In college, I’m only in class for an hour at a time. An hour and a half at most. Even then, I have at minimum a one hour break between classes. Sometimes, like this semester, I have a full day without class. How is this supposed to teach me to show up to work on time, every day of the week, regardless of what the weather is like or what my day looks like?
  2. Being in the same place for more than an hour or two — In line with #1, I don’t have any classes in the same room at all this semester. My scenery is always changing. That won’t be true when I get my full-time position. I’ll be in the same office in the same building for 8+ hours, Monday through Friday. The scenery will only change minimally for meetings, lunch breaks, and project outings. Otherwise, that room will be my home away from home.
  3. Budgeting — College is synonymous with being broke. I get it. I’ve been in college for nearly four full years. Why is that? I understand we don’t have a ton of time on our hands. We’re working maybe 20 hours a week at a minimum wage job. Or two. Or three. And we still struggle to make ends meet. Why don’t we make a financial peace course a gen-ed requirement? If college students learn to budget now with what little they have, they will be much more successful after getting that first big-kid paycheck.
  4. Get me untrapped from the Devil (AKA my GPA) — A wise man once told me, “Unless you’re pursuing a master’s degree or the medical field, no one will ask you about your college GPA.” I 110% agree with that statement. Regardless if I graduate with a 2.4 GPA or at the top of my class with the highest honors from the Honors Department, my degree will still read: “Black Hills State University, Bachelor’s of Arts” or something to that extent. At least in my field, a degree is sometimes not even required. Getting a college education simply means a pay raise. I honestly can’t imagine a life without studying for tests, or checking grades, or completing group projects. That’s because I’ve been stuck in this academic world for the past 16 years and all I’ve heard is “How is your GPA?” or “What do your grades look like?” instead of “What projects did you complete?” or “Did you do anything cool at work today?”
    ***Side note: This rant will be continued in the coming weeks. The following video will serve as a teaser.
  5. I’m sure there’s a few more I can think of, but none are coming to mind at this moment.

I’m very thankful for my time in college. It’s trained me in most areas for the full-time position I applied for. However, it’s not a cure-all. There are still holes, as in any institution. Sometimes, you just gotta learn as you go.

Adulting in your 20s: It’s like getting a new video game, but throwing out the instruction manual and running around trying to figure things out on your own until something works.



The Beauty in New Beginnings

Everything will change in 118 days. That may seem like a lot now, but I’ll blink twice and everything will begin to change rapidly. I’ll be headed off to a new city in a new part of the country with new people, new opportunities, new challenges, and a new job. Where exactly I’m headed is still up in the air, but one thing is for sure: new beginnings are on the horizon.

For me, the year 2015 was…difficult. From flying on mountaintops to trudging through the darkest valleys I’ve experienced, I saw it all in the last year. However, I’ve never been one to stay down for very long. I’ve been blessed with a (probably overly) optimistic spirit. I always look for the bright spots in life, and these last several months, that constant bright spot is the new beginnings I will be presented with in just a few short months.

However, between now and then, I have challenges in front of me to overcome first. I’m still a college student. I have classes to attend, deadlines to meet, and tests to take. Staying focused on the tasks at hand will be one of my biggest obstacles moving forward. Keeping everything in perspective will be key for me in the next few months. What I mean by that is that although, yes, tests, my GPA, and projects are important, more than likely they won’t make or break my chances of moving forward into my career, barring some crazy incident like I don’t graduate.

Fast forward: it’s the morning of May 8, 2016. It’s a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning. I walked across the graduation stage less than 24 hours ago, and I’m overwhelmed with the thought that I’ll (probably) never be a college student again. My parents have driven up from my hometown ready to help me move to wherever the opportunities are. I double check the trailer containing the possessions from my apartment and take one final cruise through my empty abode. I take a deep breath in, whisper “It’s been real, Spearfish. Until next time,” and climb in my car to head off to my new beginning.

I don’t know what the future will hold after we pull away from my apartment complex here in the Black Hills. I may be headed to Sioux Falls; I may be headed to California; I may be headed to Colorado; I may be headed somewhere I don’t even have on my radar yet. The only thing I can do now is take life as it comes and roll with the punches.

These last four years of college have taught me a lot of things. But one of the biggest things is this: Everything is temporary. Even good things must come to an end. Life here in the Black Hills is a really good thing. But it will soon come to an end. As a friend always tells me, “Don’t worry about where you’ll end up. You’ll be brought to the place you’ll be used the most.”

Out On The Horizon

We are two days away from one of my favorite holidays ever — Christmas. This morning, it struck me: life is going to be dramatically different next year at this time than it is now. This year, I find myself trying to figure life out. Between staying focused on my last semester of college to job hunting to expanding my portfolio to buying a new car, life is intensely busy. Fast forward to Christmas 2016, and I have no clue what life will for sure look like. I’ll be working full-time somewhere, but I have no clue where exactly that will be. Location isn’t an issue for me, so I’ve applied for positions as far west as California, as far east as New Hampshire, as far north as western Michigan, and as far south as Orlando. Who knows where I’ll end up for sure. As of right now, the closest I’ll be to home is 64 miles and the farthest is over 1,600 miles away.

One thing is for sure though: regardless of what I’ll be doing or where I’ll be, I’m going to work as hard as I can at that job. As a Midwest kid through and through, I’ve been blessed with a solid work ethic. I’ve never slacked at a job. I’ve given every job I’ve had the best effort I can. Whether I was a paperboy like I was in middle school, or a waiter at a restaurant, or a senior station manager for the Black Hills State radio station, I’ve given every job 110% effort.

Honestly, the unknown freaks me out a little. I’m one of those guys who likes to know what’s going on, where I’m headed, and what I’ll be doing so I can plan ahead and make sure all my ducks are in a row. I’m graduating on May 7, 2016. That’s a guarantee. But that’s the farthest ahead I can see for sure. The horizon is still dark for me.

There’s one thing I’ve discovered in my almost four full years of college: you never know what’s around the next corner. I never would have imagined four years ago that I would be in the place that I am now in life. It seems pretty “no-duh,” but it’s something we all know but rarely do. Taking life as it comes is a choice. Roll with the punches and be flexible. The horizon may be dim, but it’ll be clearer tomorrow than it is today, and even more clear next week or next month than it is today. Be patient. Life will sort itself out for you.

Get Past Your Past

“Once a cheater, always a cheater.” That sound familiar? I’ve heard that multiple times in my 22 years of life on this earth. Especially in the last five or six, where I’ve made some pretty bad life choices that I’m not proud of. However, call me crazy, but I believe in the redemptive process known as growing up.

At 16, I was a meandering fool who was only concerned about which girl I could get next. At 18, I was looking forward to the time when I could finally leave home and start something new. At 20, I was starting to figure life out and was convinced I met the girl of my dreams. And now at 22, my main focus is graduating in May 2016 and again changing scenery. Long story short: I’m not the same guy now that I was 6 years ago. Further, I’m not the same guy today that I was yesterday, and I won’t be the same guy tomorrow that I am today.

You see, there’s this magical thing called growing up. It’s a weird physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual process we all go through whether we want to or not. Some people grow up quickly; others take years and years for them to finally get out of their teenage years. Regardless of the timeframe, everyone grows up eventually.

I’ll be the first to admit my life has been the farthest thing from perfect. I’ve cheated on multiple girls in multiple occasions. I’ve done things I shouldn’t have. I’ve said hurtful things all too often. But I’m changing. I’m growing. I’m becoming the man I want to be. I’m gonna let you in on a secret though: it’s not an overnight process. I’ve always been a big fan of analogies (just ask my dad), so here’s one for you.

Growing up and becoming the person you want to be is kinda like the mountains as the seasons change. Let’s say you’re standing in Loveland, Colorado, in August looking west toward the majestic peaks of the Rockies. You can’t see any snow capping the mountains due to the long, hot summer months in Colorado. Fast forward to September. High elevation snow has fallen, but only enough to dust the peaks. The snow isn’t visible until you’re up in the mountains. October rolls around, and more elevation snow falls, and you begin to see the snow-capping begin. By the time Christmas hits, you can see the snowcaps from miles away. It’s been months in the making, but it’s finally the incredible beauty you’ve come to know and love.

How does this all relate? Growing up is all about progress. It’s a slow progress, but it’s progress nonetheless. Some days will be better than others. Sometimes you’ll have wonderful days that you won’t want to end, and you’ll have days that you want to be over by 9:30 a.m. However, keep pressing forward.

Life was never promised to be easy. Mistakes will happen. But don’t let your shortcomings define who you are. In the words of the song “You Are More” by Tenth Avenue North: “You are more than the problems you create. You’ve been remade.”

These last few months have been rough for me, personally. But I’ve been blessed with a very optimistic spirit, and I don’t stay down for very long. This song has been my anthem the last few weeks since it was first released last month. Take a listen:

“Everyday’s a gift, you got air up in your lungs. Be grateful rain or sun.”

Even when the world seems like it’s against you, you have today to keep pressing forward and proving a lot of people wrong when you become the man or woman you want to be.

Mainstream News Is Too Mainstream

Welcome to a new blog-esque thing I’d like to call “Meanwhile, In Scott’s World.” In this weekly post, I’ll basically be ranting about anything and everything that’s on my mind that week. Please note that this is purely an opinion editorial, and everything that is said is my own thoughts and is not subject to approval nor is the views held by Black Hills State University, The Buzz FM, or BHSUMedia.com.

Over the last year, we’ve seen an array of topics that have been plastered on news headlines on CNN, covered our newsfeeds on Facebook, and have been top-trending topics on Twitter. These topics ranged anywhere from a North Korean nuclear crisis to Ebola to the terrorist attacks in Paris and California. These trending topics change so dramatically and so frequently that we quickly push the chaos from last week aside and focus in on the new trending topic for this week. My question is why.

Why is mainstream news so hell-bent on grabbing the attention of the viewers/readers at any possible cost? Why does mainstream news have a bias one way or the other (and don’t you dare try to say it doesn’t. Communication theories across the board support the claim that all communication has some sort of bias by nature.)? Why do we as a people so quickly forget about what happened a few short weeks ago simply because our newsfeed topics changed?

For example, I don’t think we’ve ever found Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. The plane disappeared on March 8, 2014, and for about a month and a half, it was covering our newsfeeds. Now, it’s become a back-burner topic and a mystery that apparently only Scooby Doo and the crew can solve.  Is the search really “on-going,” or have we just given up and let nature run its course? Suddenly, Donald Trump and weak-kneed college kids complaining about not having “safe zones” on campus take precedence.

Is Ebola still a worldwide epidemic?  Are people still dying in third world countries from this terrible disease? What about the “outbreak” that was going to kill every American over the course of a couple years? Mainstream news just left that lie where it was at, and never really finished their story on it. Instead, they picked up on the next trending, sensationalistic story they could find.

I understand that this probably won’t change anything with how mainstream news happens. I get it. They’re after ratings and advertisement money. It’s a business. But please don’t trade your bottom-line for sub-par news reporting. Talking heads only get us so far.

For the rest of us, take everything that is said on national news with a grain of salt. Cross-check information before accepting it for all it’s worth. If it’s completely true, it will be a consistent story across multiple sources. The worst thing we can do as a people is be sucked into the trance of “CNN knows all” or “Fox News is the only reliable resource”. It’s a crazy world out there. Wear a helmet.

That’s all I got for now. I’m not one for keyboard arguments, so please refrain.