California: Just make it happen

Last week, I wrote a pair of blogs on the AVP Huntington Beach Open. They were the first blogs I had ever written, and they were just for fun, with the minor intention of establishing a beach volleyball readership. I expected nothing from them, aside from a few chuckles. What I received instead was awesome: Nearly every beach player in Huntington last week had something to say about what I wrote. Some gave me grief for not writing about them (apologies, guys and gals), others thanked me for giving them a good laugh.

And enough of you God-blessed souls shared it on social media that the blogs reached the eyes of the editors at Volleyball Magazine, who also seemed to get a good laugh and a bit of entertainment out of my writing. They offered to take my beach volleyball blogs and use them at Volleyball Magazine – and they’re going to pay me American dollars to do it!

Man, I love the beach volleyball community.

Now, not every blog I write is going to be on beach volleyball, and not all of them will be paid, but the overwhelming amount of kind responses I received showed me that there might just be some kind of niche audience for my writing, which is both awesome and flattering.

The following is a bit of both – a combination of beach volleyball, and the admiration I have for the overall ballsiness that beach volleyball players have to live the lives they do, almost all of which are deviating from society’s established norms.

The premise of today’s blog is this: If you are one of dozens upon dozens of individuals who tell me you want to move to California, that you’re going to do it soon, so very soon, like a month, or next summer, or next winter, could you please stop talking about it?

Just watch the phenomenal Nike short below.

Just, uh, you know, do it.

The California adventure

I have lived in California for exactly 613 days. If I had to guess, during at least 300 of those days, I have received a text from a friend claiming that they are “going to move to California, bro!!! I want to play beach volleyball every day!!”

I say great, that’s awesome. Come on out. No better decision.

And then come the inevitable caveats:

  • “As soon as I get a job!!”
  • “Whenever I find an apartment!!”
  • “Just gotta get the girlfriend on board!!”

Yeah…y’all aren’t coming to California. You know it. I know it.

It kills me to get those texts. I see and talk to people every day living the life that society demands of them – college degree, 9-5 job they don’t like, living in a state they don’t want to – while dreaming of the life they so easily could live, if only they get out of the societal hamster wheel they’re spinning in.

Moving to California really isn’t that hard. I promise. It’s just that so many people are so paralyzed by fear, which is, in reality, a paralysis by pride.

You don’t need to have a job prior to moving here.

Got a car? Drive for Uber or Lyft.

Mentally sane? Wait tables. Bartend.

Able to have a half-decent conversation? Sales associate.

Trust me, you’re not overqualified for anything if it means that you finally get to do whatever it is you want to do. Just pick up holdover jobs that’ll get you by while you’re living the life you want to live, searching for the job you want to work.

If that sounds like a fairytale, let me relay the fantastic story of Ryan Doherty, one of the best blockers in the country, if not the world.

The Bigger Unit

For those of you unfamiliar with Ryan Doherty’s story, a quick synopsis:

Ryan Doherty grew up in New Jersey, and he was an exceptional athlete with prodigious height (he has eclipsed the 7-foot threshold), a standout in both baseball and basketball. He went to Notre Dame to become a pitcher and went pro, winding up in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ developmental system. ESPN ran a story on him and headlined it “The Bigger Unit,” a flattering nickname considering that Randy Johnson, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Hall of Famer lefty, was given the moniker, “The Big Unit.” Baseball, though, didn’t pan out. Doherty was cut, and he did some soul-searching in South Carolina, where he stumbled onto beach volleyball. He was terrible, but he liked it. He finished his degree, moved back home, didn’t know what to do, so he did what every 20-something former professional pitcher-turned-stay-at-home-son does: He packed up his car and moved to California, to pursue a sport in which he couldn’t beat teenage girls.

He didn’t have a job. He didn’t have an apartment. When it came time to drive through Las Vegas, he gambled and lost half his net worth.

So yeah, Doherty didn’t have anything figured out.

You really don’t need to have it all figured out.

Shoot first. Aim later.

When he got to Costa Mesa, he made money by delivering pizzas. During the mornings, he’d go sit on the wall in Huntington Beach and wait until somebody invited him over to hit balls or play. It’s very likely he felt stupid doing this. I can empathize. I used to do the same thing. Looking stupid is a critical part of growing – try something new, look stupid, learn, grow; rinse, lather, repeat.

Eventually, inevitably, Doherty got good – really good. He was picked up by Casey Patterson and they won an NVL, beating gold medalists Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers.

Then he quit the pizza place.

Now he’s one of the best blockers in the world.

If Doherty, one of the most fascinating individuals I’ve had the opportunity to interview, had done what most homogenized Americans do – wait for a job, an apartment, stability – I don’t think we would have seen him on TV last weekend, playing in the finals of the Huntington Beach Open.

Fear setting

We talk about goal setting ad nauseum. We’re constantly asked to establish our 1-, 5-, 10-, even 20-year goals. Which is fine. I love goal setting. It’s useful, practical, necessary.

But what about fear setting?

I learned about this when reading Tim Ferris’s Tools of Titans (if you haven’t read, please do so).

The basic premise of it is this: When we feel that urge to do something crazy – like, say, moving across the country without much of a plan – it’s vital to ask the question: ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’

Set your fears.

What’s the absolute worst that could happen when you take a leap of faith or do something somewhat crazy, like moving across the country?

I don’t mean to be all life-coachy here, but in my case, the worst that can happen is that my California dream fails, I kind of go broke, I move back to Maryland, I live a very normal life of a sports writer.

I’d still be exceptionally happy.

That’s really not bad, is it?

The same probably went for Doherty.

It’s my belief that the two most haunting words in the English language are ‘What if?’

God. It would kill me if I didn’t move to Florida, or California, forever stalked by those two words. I bet it would kill Doherty, too.

Maya Angelou wrote it best (she wrote a lot of things best) with this indelible line in I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings: 

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

I’ll leave it at that.