For thing's to change for you, you have to change."
"Again!?" I muttered at Dad, as the iconic voice of personal development legend Jim Rohn burst through the speakers.
I closed my 10-year-old eyes to briefly imagine a different reality. Pretending to instead be getting a lift in a friend's car, I pictured us tuned into one of the popular radio stations in our hometown of Brisbane, Australia, blaring chart-topping hits while we all sang in unison, led by the 'cool dad' in the driver's seat.
The bland white Volvo 740 sedan pulled up at my school. My brother and I unbuckled our seatbelts, grabbed our things and stepped out of the car while Rohn's uncanny one-liners continued in the background:
"Don't wish it was easier. Wish you were better."
"Work harder on yourself than you do on your job."
"Don't wish for less problems. Wish for more skills."
Retrieving our black backpacks from the trunk, we started the short uphill walk to the school.
"Have a great day!" our boring dad chirped. He hadn't said much on the drive, instead choosing to focus on the road and the cassette; then again, perhaps that was a response in itself.
"Thanks for the lift," I responded lethargically.
I thought about my dad's positive attitude and wondered how one person could be so happy all of the time. Maybe I had been switched at birth and there was a jovial kid up the road excitedly skipping to school.
In the next few years, disillusionment about my place in the world (which included being unable to obtain an entry-level job at McDonald's) gave way to a crippling anxiety disorder. The debilitating feelings emerged whenever my brain decided I was in a situation that I could not escape from, often triggered by being in a classroom or sitting for an exam. If I was unable to remove myself from the environment, I would feel extreme sensations of dizziness and then either faint, throw up or both.
Scraping into university by the slimmest of margins, I knew that college would require me to regularly attend class and take exams. Fortunately, I discovered the perfect short-term solution: I could get through it if I simply decided not to care.
Mediocre attendance and mediocre study led to mediocre results, including a few failed subjects, but I was progressing, albeit at a snail's pace.
Through my dysfunctional university stint, I'd miraculously been able to hold a part-time job at a liquor store; it was even fun a lot of the time because I enjoyed the job, the paycheck and the...