Stranger 53, Day 53 – Meet Tyler, the “Achiever”

Stranger 53, Day 53 - Meet Tyler

Okay, I finally hit my first rejection today at Atlanta Tech Village. So sad as I actually went around the building looking for someone to be today’s Stranger. He wanted to remain private.

As I walked to another floor, I found a man heating up some chicken and brown rice in one of the microwaves. He was open to me interrupting his meal, and was happy to be today’s Stranger. That’s impressive considering he’s a bodybuilder, and I just got in the way of his meat and carbs.

Meet Tyler, 25

Who are you?

“I’m someone who’s, I guess, more goal-driven. The only two things I do are work and bodybuild. Someone who’s been told no pretty much my whole life. That’s kind of what’s driven me to this point.”

“… I guess that’s me in a nutshell — just driven.”

You mentioned being driven “to this point”. What is this point?

“Long story short, in high school, my guidance counselor told me like… when I asked about college, he laughed at me, and was like, ‘you’re not going to college.'”

“Right after high school, I didn’t go to college. About a year set in, and I was like, ‘you know? Screw this. I’m going to prove this guy wrong.’ Went to college. Graduated college — had to go to community college first — then went to a big university.”

“Graduated — first person in my family to graduate from college. Other than that, I always think that you just get a job, but I wasn’t happy with that either. Somehow, I stumbled upon Acuity at a career fair. But I mean, I’ve been told no for bodybuilding before and school, and so, it’s just… just been what motivates me.”

So you took a year off school, didn’t go to college. Did what the guidance counselor said influence you to not go to college?

“It was a combination of maybe I wasn’t meant for college… That, and I just worked. I worked at a minimum wage job. Started off washing dishes, and became the kitchen manager. Then after, I just couldn’t. I was like, ‘I can’t do this’.” He looks down and shakes his head recalling the experience.

Was that a Life-Defining Moment for you? What was the moment for you that said, “I gotta go do this, or I gotta get into bodybuilding”? What was the Life-Defining Moment for you?

“I think it was just seeing all my friends succeed. Them all going to college.” He thinks. “Just looking at them and my surroundings and the people I was with at the time.”

He tells me about the difference between the people he was surrounded with and who he wanted to surround himself with.

He recalls his counselor, “And he actually went to the University of South Carolina. I thought about, maybe debating sending my diploma to him. But I’ll that one go.”

Where you are right now — are you happy?

“Yeah! I love it! I started at Acuity as an SDR. Five months in, they allowed me an opportunity to be promoted to an Account Executive. I didn’t get it, but I think my boss at the time was like, ‘you know, you still have a ways to go.’ At the time, you want to reject it, ‘No! I’m ready now!” he motions with his hand in feigned enthusiasm.

“Looking back on it, it was the best decision she did. I got promoted over the summer-time. So it ended up in its own way. But yeah, I love it.” He shares his company’s leaders as “awesome people to work for.”

You went through a life full of no’s, and looks like you’re doing pretty well from bodybuilding, and you were the first person in your family to have graduated from college. That’s a lot of great successes. What’s your Life Lesson to share with others who may also encounter a lot of no’s?

“Don’t listen to it.”

“No matter what. You know, when you’re a kid, and you’re like, ‘oh, I want to be an NFL player!’ I mean, I’ve heard other people say, ‘oh no, that’s ridiculous. You can never be an NFL player.’ But to me, that’s stupid. Why not? Why not you?”

“Why not me in graduating from college? I say go for it.”

Anything else that you do right now that encourages others in that way?

“I haven’t done it in three months, but for a long time, I was watching kids at a gym. I get along with kids really well, so just watching them. Anytime they talk, ‘school is stupid!’ You know when you get a bunch of kids together. I always like to sit there and coach them up. Just tell them, ‘hey, college isn’t bad.’ That’s about it.”

Why do you think there’s so much animosity and hate in this world? Why can’t we get along? Why we can’t unite as one front and be happy? (Thanks to Rhonda, Stranger 52)

“That… is a really tough question,” Tyler laughs and thinks for a while.

“I guess if I could solve that… I don’t know.” Indeed, that’s a tough question. So much in this one you could say.

“I guess it goes back to treating everyone the way you should be treated. I think everyone’s done it at some point like treating someone in a bad way.”

I ask Tyler about his experiences being told no so often. Did they do it out of animosity? Why did he get so many no’s? Did they want to doubt you? Want to be mean?

Tyler recalled, “No, I think they saw what was on the piece of paper.” He’s alluding to his counselor again from high school.

“The counselors always saw my grades. That’s all they saw. The people who told me no in bodybuilding, all they saw was what was in front of them. I think in order to know someone, you really have to dive into who they are. It’s just not what’s on the front of the cover.”

To this, I asked Tyler if part of the rejection he’s felt was because of that initial judgement — looking at him as a piece of paper with grades versus understanding who he really was and how he could achieve greater things.

Tyler responds, “Yeah, definitely… Definitely taught in that way,” as he refers to that initial judgement without asking more questions.

What would you like to ask any Stranger? (Tomorrow’s.)

“I guess… if you could go back and remember a time when someone told you no, would you treat it differently?”

“I think when that teacher told me no, I just accepted it at that point.”

After the handshake.

When I started sharing how some other Strangers have taken pictures including his coworker who was a Stranger before and did a handstand, I thought he would do something bodybuilding-esque. Instead, he surprised asking if it’d be cool to lay on the table in the kitchen. I didn’t know where he was going on that one, but said sure. Then, he said that he wanted to lay there like “Rose from Titanic“. Ha! Okay, that, I did not see coming. (I was tempted to title this, “Stranger 53, Day 53 – Meet Tyler, the “Rose of ATV”.)

It was good to hear Tyler’s story, and how he’s consistently overcame and achieved in areas he was otherwise denied/ rejected/ laughed at. Sad to hear that his high school counselor did not provide him with the support to go to college and find the right one for him. However, sounds like Tyler takes these situations and feeds off them to continue to achieve.

Meet Tyler. No longer a Stranger.

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