I dropped out of graphic design in College to work as a labourer on a construction crew for a year and a half, and have continued working construction as a summer job. The rough job really changed me. Even though I was taking active steps towards overcoming my fears during my early college days, construction helped build character that I would not have gotten anywhere else. In some ways construction is the best thing that ever happened to my game.
I needed summer work and my friend was able to land me a job on a construction crew. My friend shared some encouraging words the day before work, “This is a hard fucking job. You’ll probably quit, but at least it’s something for now.” Nice. It was hot as fuck my first day of work, and I ran to meet the gentlemen I was going to work with. Winded and sweating I enter the work truck, and nervously shake these calloused gentlemen’s hands. They tell me what to expect on my first day, and I already feel anxious as fuck. I bust my ass the first day, confident that I did a terrible job; they keep me employed though, and so I kept coming back. I enjoyed the hard work, a lot. Being raised by an elitist grandmother, I always though construction was below me, but after my first week part of me realized that this line of work was exactly what my life was missing.
Truth be told, I was intimidated as fuck by these construction gentlemen. I never felt like I was good enough to be on their crew, and their whole way of speaking and working was tough. I would have been 18 or 19 when I started, and working with older gentlemen was foreign to me. When they made fun of me, as construction gentlemen do as a way of endearment to their fellow man, I actively defended myself and got angry even. The summer passed and I decided to drop out of school to continue work in construction. I ended up getting accustomed to the construction banter, I started to turn the brutally hard work into menial routine, and most important, I got over my anxieties through this process. Construction changed that for me most; situations that seemed scary or rugged, construction prepared me for. Working such a hard job with a lot of dangers really made me approach life differently. Construction hardened me in a way other experiences hadn’t, and while I can credit the raw dangers of the work environment for that, I also owe it to the guys I worked with. Having a bunch of grown men constantly throwing banter back and forth, or laughing at stupid shit on a day to day basis, really makes you look beyond the menial nature of other embarrassing situations or environments you face in your life outside of construction. If you do something truly embarrassing at work, you bet your ass everyone is going to laugh at you, but that’s how you become hardened, because you realize that certain situations are out of your control and you move on from them stronger; that’s what construction did for me.
Not to mention, construction shifted me from a 160 pound pudgy beta (I did work out, but not to this extent) to a 190 pound foot ball player-sized gentleman. The pure athleticism this job required leaked into all facets in my life. I’m no longer content during my off season sitting around, I now feel that I am forever active; I have to work out on my days off, I have to go for long walks, I have to challenge myself physically at all costs since working construction. Being physically active all the time not only gave me a physical boost, but a mental one (I have to assume this is due in part to higher testosterone production), and knowing that I was able to shift myself into an athletic gentleman – a gentleman I would have never considered before construction – made me realize academics and other activities in my life could be improved by hard work.
Hanging off of a rope while carrying 200 pounds on your shoulder really makes situations like approaching women seem trivial. Facing bigger gentlemen who look like they have never worked a day in their lives seems trivial. Falling off a sky-high beam because you were doing something stupid makes getting laughed at because you tripped over a curb seem trivial. The more I worked construction, the more I realized that a lot of average fears anxious people such as my prior self had, were trivial. Having that edge in understanding your fears really pushed me to challenge life head on.
During a presentation in school I stood on the table to add extra emphasis to the anthropological study we were presenting. The table slide right from under me, I landed on my back in front of a class of one hundred. Some laughed, and some offered support. I got up, and without a word acknowledging the stupid tumble I took, I continued with my presentation.
If this was two years ago, before I started construction, I would have been a nervous mess.