This post is by far the slowest thing I’ve ever typed. I’m sitting on the floor with the coffee table pulled up to my chest so that my right arm can rest on a small throw pillow. I’m two-finger pecking the keyboard at about 5 wpm.

It’s torture.

2 Ways I’m Turning “Major” Setbacks into Minor Speedbumps - thumbs up


A Setback in Seconds

About two weeks ago I was playing in a soccer game and a ball drilled my right hand at point-blank range. My wrist was jammed and I hit the ground in pain. It felt like I just punched a brick wall. I’m not a stranger to sprained body parts, so when the swelling subsided two days later, I thought I would be healed in no time.

However, by some terrible, almost laughably cruel stroke of misfortune, I was hit in the same freaking hand again during the next week’s game….

I figured two times in a row was enough and went to an Urgent Care Center the next day to confirm it was still just a “bad sprain.”

After a quick x-ray, the doctor walks back into the room unfazed and says, “Welp, it’s fractured!”

I'm Turning "Major" Setbacks into Minor Speedbumps - xray

WHAT. Seriously?!

The doctor went on to explain I’ve broken the third worst bone in the body to break (the “scaphoid” bone in the wrist), because it can take 8-12 weeks to heal and might need surgery.

The next day, a specialist confirms with a truly disappointing tone that I need a thumb to above-elbow, old school plaster cast for at least four of the minimum eight weeks that is required to heal my terrible, yet seemingly painless injury. If I don’t do it this way, I’ll be “screwed in the future,” etc. etc.

Within minutes, I’m all of sudden wielding an absolutely impenetrable right arm cast made with the same skill I learned in an elementary paper maché art class. The doctor then hands me a bag of gummy bears and says, “Welcome to your new prison!”

I’ve just gone from a well put-together, responsible 26-year-old adult to a 10-year-old child faster than you can say, “SON OF B–.”

2 Ways I’m Turning “Major” Setbacks into Minor Speedbumps - cast
Break out the Sharpies, baby….

The Setback Sinks In

2013 has not been the best year for me in terms of “major” setbacks. For example, my car engine blew up in January. I had surgeries on both my elbows in June. Now, I have a broken wrist. But really, its not the events themselves that put me in the dumps… it’s the long list of things I once looked forward to doing that I can no longer do because those events.

Here’s my newest list thanks to my new “prison”:

  1. No more Stampabout episodes… one of which was going to be ice climbing in December.
  2. No more soccer… I missed the playoffs last season due to my surgeries. Now I can forget this season, too…
  3. I was four days away from playing my first full-band show since moving to LA two years ago. We had practiced since March.
  4. No more piano playing in general.
  5. No more surfing.
  6. There’s a strong possibility that I’ll still be handicapped during a Christmas trip with my family.
  7. I was actually going to leave my job in November to travel, but now have to stay much longer so I don’t lose my insurance.
  8. Since I broke my right wrist and I’m right-handed, everything is a struggle (work, showers, typing, wiping, etc.).
  9. No more exercise… I’m told that any sweat that forms in my cast will eventually make my arm small like a zombie apocalypse.
  10. Many more that I won’t know until that devastating moment comes…

Basically, most of what brings me happiness on any given day has been swiftly thrown out the window with no consolation. And the fact that I have no choice in the matter is what hurts the most.

When I got home that day from the doctor I yelled tons of expletives, punched the couch (with my left hand), and was the verge of an all-out cry-fest. I’m a pretty happy kid who doesn’t get upset that much, but when everything exciting is stripped away, it’s hard not to be disappointed. A lot of “what ifs” and “what nows” run through your head.

When going after a dream like Stampabout’s dream, every little setback feels devastating. When a “major” setback happens, it crushes you even more. Instead of saving for a cool new trip or new equipment we need, I’m now paying medical bills. Instead of planning more adventures, I’m taking showers with a freaking plastic bag and hoping water doesn’t sneak into the cast.

2 Ways I’m Turning “Major” Setbacks into Minor Speedbumps - ballchain
Ball and chain…

Every opportunity for this dream’s success has just taken a backseat to this new ball and chain. Until I can cut the shackles, this setback owns me.

Have you ever experienced a setback that has kept you from a dream, a goal, a project, a trip? It’s like arduously climbing a mountain and just when you’re sensing the summit, an avalanche sneaks up and knocks you halfway back down… at least it seems to feel that way.

2 Ways I’m Turning “Major” Setbacks into Minor Speedbumps

I’ve been putting the word “major” in quotations this whole time. The thing is, as your average human being, I know life is going to get in the way a lot. It’s happened countless times before and it will happen countless times down the road. In fact, one of our earliest videos was about this exact sentiment.

The truth, however, is that events that seem “major” to us are actually very small in the scheme of things.

2 Ways I’m Turning “Major” Setbacks into Minor Speedbumps - bump

Here are the 2 tactics that I’ve found help me turn “major” setbacks into minor speedbumps:

1) Find the Silver Lining

Just like the phrase “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til its gone,” is true, I also feel that “You don’t know what you’ve been missing ’til its gone,” is also true.

Now that I have a nearly immobile right hand that restricts me from doing a lot of things that used to take up much of my day, I’m thinking about trying to read books that have been sitting on my shelf for way too long.

I’ve also tried and failed to learn Spanish for years. I might not have an opposable right thumb, but I don’t need one to learn Spanish.

Instead of continually adding to a depressing list of all the things I can’t do, I’ve decided to find the silver lining in this setback and start making a list of all of the things I can do.

2) Reflect and Recognize What I Still Have

This is probably the most important part. Perspective is everything, and it’s very easy to lose on a daily basis… especially on days like today.

For example: I go to a job (I have) in a car (I own) and walk to into an office (full of happy dogs) with my two legs (that both work). I work with friends (that care), go and buy lunch with money (I’ve earned), and return home to an apartment (I take for granted most days).

2 Ways I’m Turning “Major” Setbacks into Minor Speedbumps - have

Yeah, I just broke my wrist and it sucks. I’ve stomped around in my apartment angry that I can’t do all of the things from that list above. But after the pity party in me subsides, I step back from the moment and realize millions of people would love to take my broken wrist over any number of their problems. I am privileged to have food, water, shelter, family, friends, opportunities, and good general health.

There are people with so much less than I, and during the moment of any temporary temper tantrum, there comes a jolt of reality that says, “You’re ridiculously lucky, and it’s time to understand that.” While a broken wrist seems like a “major” setback, it is a very, very small setback if I look at the bigger picture.

Needless to say, it’s still hard to find that moment of Zen when sh*t is hitting the fan. But the faster I find it, the quicker I start climbing back up the mountain (that I have the awesome opportunity to climb in the first place).

Sometimes, when I realize how blessed I am to even have the ability to attempt a dream, I realize what a waste it would be if I didn’t try my hardest to actually make it happen.

 

What have been some of your greatest setbacks? What got you through them?

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Jake is the younger, yet taller and more dashing brother between “Jake and Chad.” He’s the voice of reason behind every one of Chad’s audacious ideas, as he puts the “calculated” in “calculated risk.” He also writes songs and makes videos for the joy of the Internet. Jake is currently redeeming the millions of airline points he’s racked up through mad travel hacking techniques and is probably on a plane somewhere.

8 COMMENTS

  1. “Needless to say, it’s still hard to find that moment of Zen when sh*t is hitting the fan. But the faster I find it, the quicker I start climbing back up the mountain (that I have the awesome opportunity to climb in the first place).

    Sometimes, when I realize how blessed I am to even have the ability to attempt a dream, I realize what a waste it would be if I didn’t try my hardest to actually make it happen.”
    Speaking from “years” of experience, you could NOT have been more right on then to come to the realization that embracing the challenges in life is what “life” is all about. Everyone’s challenge in life is relative to their particular “sucky” situation. The quicker you “grieve” the situation and get beyond the pity party of it, the quicker you realize the potential in the opportunity. When you look beyond what you think is your “set back” you really can see a “silver lining” in all of it. A friend of mine just recently called me to “cry” about her son’s spending the last 5 years of his life trying to get into major league baseball only to have his “pitching arm” go out just before his long awaited BIG debut with the scouts that were there to bring him to his big dream. At least, that is what he was left to think. Now, he is challenged, like yourself, to look for the silver lining in all of that. Where could that possible be?? All of us face these set backs in life and some, unfortunately, far worse than others. If we all took the “positive” stance that we should embrace these challenges instead of looking at the negative side of the situation, we COULD build Rome in a DAY! Stay positive … we are so rooting for Jake & Chad to make “STAMP ABOUT” one really BIG freakin DREAM!! It is just a “bump” in the road. Get on with the DREAM!!
    A really BIG fan and believer in your DREAM,
    Connie :)

    • Amen!

      The story about the baseball player definitely puts things in perspective, and thats what I keep going back to… perspective. This break is just a small bump comparatively, and I will grow from it!

      Thanks for the comment!!

      • Hey Jake:

        Thanks for reply. Hope you’re healing quickly!! Probably not quickly enough for your likes.

        Hey, do you have a donation page where people can make small contributions that can add up to your “Big Dream”? Let us know.

        Thanks … good luck!

  2. Broke my radius in my left arm this past January in a bike accident. Nine months later I finally feel 95% whole. Recommend physical therapy after the cast is removed

  3. The cast is removed in order to get back to close to hundred percent. Can relate to the difficulty in the dressing showering and waiting

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