Incredible Sorrow to Incredible Joy

This blog post could be a long one, I have a lot to say about the feelings of sorrow and joy. In the last 12 months, I’ve experienced my most extreme of each feeling.

Let’s rewind to December 2021. I’m 22 years old and working full-time at a local pub. Three months earlier, I quit my first job in logistics to pursue a career as a short-term trader for a trading desk in Manhattan.

One year prior to this, in December of 2020, I discovered the world of day trading. I had always wanted to do something extraordinary in life and make a good living doing it. With an already peaked level of interest in the stock market, I was sure I had found ‘my thing’.

For nine months, I traded every single day the market was open. I was having so much fun learning this new high value skill with a couple of college friends. But when it came time to graduate and start my full-time job, I wasn’t able to trade. I didn’t have the same flexible lifestyle that I did in college. I was enjoying my new job in logistics, but I already had eyes on the ceiling. With day trading, I didn’t think a ceiling existed.

I began to look at career opportunities in trading stocks.

(Go figure, I graduate college and by the end of the summer I’m looking into different industries)

But I looked into it and came across a proprietary trading desk – something I had never heard of. This was a small firm in Manhattan that strictly traded stocks on a short-term time frame. Not only did dozens of professional traders work here, but the firm would also fund your trading account (starting at $50,000) for a 10% cut of your earnings. Multiple traders at this firm were making EIGHT figure salaries. EIGHT!

I had never desired or imagined having a career THAT lucrative and it wasn’t necessarily my goal to be that wealthy, but knowing the opportunity was right in front of me was a big driving factor in my decision to go for it.

In order to become part of the firm, I needed to be a licensed securities trader. This meant passing two FINRA issued exams, the SIE (Securities Industries Essentials) exam and the Series 57 (Securities Trader Representative) exam.

I decided to drop everything and jump in headfirst. This is my impulsive personality in full effect.

I learned I’d have a chance to pass the FINRA exams and upon passing, I’d be a trader on their desk. I found this out on Friday while being five months into the job I had literally spent a year and a half chasing. I quit that same afternoon – I didn’t even think about it over the weekend. Again, impulsiveness in full effect.

A bit of a sidetrack, but I look at that situation now in a great light. It was naïve, impulsive, and irresponsible to quit my job that day. I’ll never be upset about the excitement and desire I had to pursue trading. However, I did allow it to cloud my judgement – which I’m not okay with, and that’s important for me to recognize because it turns a bad decision into a learning experience.

But anyways, back to building up to my time in life of extreme sorrow.

So now that I was unemployed, I got a gig serving tables at a local pub while studying for my exams. I passed the SIE on my first try, a month and a half after quitting my job. Things were looking good. One more and I’m in the driver’s seat.

On both of these exams, you need a 70% to pass. My first attempt at the Series 57 I scored 68%.

Okay, fine, I have to wait 30 days before I can retake it. I’ll be more than prepared to get one more question right.

30 days go by and it’s my second attempt (three fails, and you’re disassociated with the firm). I am as confident as ever, ready to start my new career that I set off for 4 months prior. Test results come back – 68%. Again?

Okay another 30 days of studying, I have to get it this time, right?

It’s February 14th, 2022, and I have my third and final attempt. I go in with a little more pressure to make this happen. I take the exam, go through my answers twice, and submit it. Test results come back – 64%. No. No, no, no.

I remember driving home in silence. I remember being more upset when I failed my second attempt. I don’t know why. I think I was just more in shock this time. I felt like a fool. Why did I quit my job before passing the exams? How did I get my worst score yet? Is this a sign that trading isn’t for me?

I got home to an empty house and sat there and contemplated my decisions. I wasn’t happy with my social life, my girlfriend of five years and I were talking about splitting, and now ‘my thing’ didn’t feel like it would happen. I wanted to get away from everything. I remember deleting all my social media accounts and just disconnecting myself.

At that moment, I told myself “Whoever wants to be around will make themselves known.” I throw my phone on the bed and as it hits my bed, I get a text message from my childhood friend who I had reconnected with a few months prior.

The text simply read “Do you want to move to Denver with me?”

I had zero hesitation. Yes. Of course.

Now, I’d hope 23-year-old me in this same situation would stop myself and say “Okay, you’re being impulsive again, let’s think about it.”

But I felt so comfortable with the decision. I had always wanted to go off and be somewhere new. With my relationship on its last legs and my paychecks coming from serving tables at a local pub, the timing was perfect.

But it took about three to four days for feelings of sorrow to begin setting in. In those days, I ended my almost six-year relationship as I was (or at least told myself I was) set on heading west.  

I also began experiencing these feelings of low self-esteem, like really low self-esteem.

First, I started to think my friend didn’t actually want me to move to Denver with him. Then I started thinking secrets were being kept from me by my family. I began having difficulty communicating with strangers in public, specifically at my gym and while serving tables. I was always paranoid and thinking people were talking badly about me, no matter if it was my family, my friends, mutual friends, or complete strangers.

Now that I have a perspective on that time in my life, I realize that my perception of the outside world was a direct reflection on the feelings I had towards myself. I was ashamed of my failure to become a professional trader and embarrassed at my poor execution. I was heart-broken by separating from a girl I had been in love with for over a quarter of my young life. I was living every day thinking about the decision to move across the country. Not to mention, I was struggling, and knew I was struggling, with drugs and alcohol for the first time in my life.

I realize that I feel things in life fully. Whatever emotions I’m feeling, I feel like I experience them on a heightened level. And in this time of my life, I was experiencing sorrow, regret, confusion, failure, anxiety, and heartbreak on a heightened level. I was in a downward spiral, and I knew it. I just wanted to get out of it.

The summer months came, I turned 23, and I began seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. The plan was to move out to Colorado in August. By June I had found a great job opportunity (with an extremely high ceiling) in Denver that would put me back in logistics. I began going on dates and exploring new people. I even started studying trading again. All of these things slowly began shifting my perspective from disappointment and failure to opportunity and potential.

Unfortunately, my good friend decided it wasn’t the right time in his life to make the move to Denver. With full conviction that Colorado was still a place I wanted to be, I knew this decision was no longer impulsive, it’s what I genuinely wanted for myself. Not so I could run away from my failure and embarrassment, but so I could start a new chapter and see what myself and this life was made of.

My parents and I made a three-day road trip from metro Detroit to Denver. During the drive, I was the calmest I had been in months. I wasn’t nervous, I wasn’t scared, I was fully ready to step into a new world – which was pretty surprising to me with the place I had been in a few months prior.

I didn’t begin to feel extreme joy right away. It took a few weeks and even months to get fully adjusted to my new job, new people, and new responsibilities. I definitely had some feelings of anxiety and uncertainty creep back up, but I knew I was in a new chapter in life that I had total control of. Whether it was going to be a positive or negative experience was fully up to me.

I began smashing through goals at work, meeting and making connections with great people, and creating new opportunities for myself – all while experiencing one of the most beautiful places I’d ever been.

The front range of the Rocky Mountains is always in sight and world class ski resorts are 90 minutes away (if you leave early enough to beat I70 traffic).

The moment I experienced extreme joy was probably a month ago. It was Sunday morning, and I was by myself driving through the mountains for a ski day. There’s this tunnel I always go through that opens up to an incredible view on the other side when you’re heading west. I have seen this view probably five or six times prior.

For some reason that morning, by myself, I saw that view and extreme joy washed over me – like I had never felt before. I began to well up and I had a million butterflies in my chest and stomach.

I think having that view in front of me and feeling content and happy with myself resulted in that feeling. And although I don’t well up or get those butterflies constantly, I can honestly say this is the best I’ve ever felt about the place I’m in. I feel I’m exactly where I need to be.

I think having both feelings of sorrow and joy on such an extreme level in a short amount of time is a huge blessing. Both feelings are still very fresh in my mind and I’m able to learn from both feelings.

When things go south again, which they will, I have the experience of knowing a situation will get as bad as I make it. It’s very dependent on my perception of the world and the situations I’m in. I’ve experienced my feelings shift as I shift my perspective.

And I’m grateful to have the knowledge that no matter how great I feel, I can quickly feel just as bad. And no matter how bad I feel, I can quickly feel just as great.

It helps you appreciate the good times when you have them and work through the hard times when you’re in them.