My grandfather taught me how to write, making this platform possible. He edited all of my papers from the time I was a freshman in high school and has helped me every step of the way. Thank you Paps, your impact is helping change lives. Love you!
When I first started this platform, I didn’t really know the “why” behind my creation of The Wish Dish. It just felt right. On the surface I liked writing, I liked connecting with others, but those weren’t the TRUE reasons I created the site. This isn’t just an “authentic writing community.” It was more than that, but I was struggling conveying “why” to people around me.
I knew my inability to answer this question was a problem because it is hard for people to “buy” into what you are doing / your vision if you cannot simply explain to them the true reason behind your creation. And simply, how are we ever going to be better than any other content platform if we don’t have anything unique about what we represent at our core. After I sat in a room at the library a great friend, he asked me, “Why are you doing this website?” The fact that an integral member of our team had no idea what they were truly a part of was something I had to address.
Through my story, I hope you glean insight into Bryan Wish as a person, “why” this platform exists, and have a better understanding of the community that you are voluntarily joining. Before I begin my story, anyone who is inspired by this post and would like to reach out … please do. I started this to help you.
For the first time in my life, I felt entirely lost as a person. I hit rock-bottom. I don’t know if it was depression, but it was a depressive state where I felt like a shell of myself for a 5 month span. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when a girl I was dating at the time parted ways with me. She was the first person I was completely vulnerable with.
I had built such a strong connection, one that was emotionally and intellectually stimulating. She was the type of person that I could just talk to for five straight hours and lose track of time. It was special … All of a sudden it was gone. This created a strong feeling of emptiness, almost as if something was stolen away from me.
During this period, I woke up with horrific night sweats. I walked around campus for the next three months empty and aimless. A ghost. I even started going to the gym with long pants and long sleeve shirts, because it was my way of closing myself off from others around me. I was scared, I was lost as a person, and I had no idea “why” this was happening.
I asked my mom if I could work with a psychologist to help start to put things in perspective. Within a few weeks I began the training process with Neal Bowes, founder of Simply Performance Group. We began with written reflection and strength/weakness exercises in March of 2014. These exercises were deep and were designed to allow me to break myself down to my core and see myself for who I was.
We also did numerous writing exercises. One of the hardest exercises I did towards the end of the summer was when I asked two of my best friends at UGA, Brad Lathrop and Erik Larsen, to write their observations and critiques of me over the past two years so I could better understand how people saw me.
Through my work with Neal, I learned how difficult it is to truly break yourself down, to look at yourself “naked,” and let people you trust tell you how you really are.
The process was hard. I was drained mentally after each session (and there were a lot). From my personal work with Neal, I realized the root of the problem was far deeper than a relationship that turned south.
I started reminiscing on the past few months (spring semester 2013) of my life and I realized I had some pretty serious things happen that I simply ignored. In the spring of 2013 I herniated two discs in my back from doing CrossFit.
At the time of the injury, I was also taking a full course load of classes and working two part-time jobs. It was only natural my body gave out in some way. I was placing too much of a burden on myself because of the overtly high expectations I placed on myself to succeed.
Simply put, it wasn’t entirely CrossFit that caused my injury, it was my lifestyle choices.
Even after my injury, I didn’t realize the cycle I was repeating. The summer of 2013, I began a full time internship with the Atlanta Hawks, working 50+ hours a week, and doing rehab for my back at 6:00 AM in Buckhead, Atlanta before work.
When summer concluded, I rushed right into my next venture, and without taking a break I started a t-shirt business for Greek Groups, which was an epic flop.
During that fall semester, I was also working my two part time jobs, and preparing for summer internship interviews. A defining moment of the fall semester I’ll never forget was when I was with a girl at a bar on the night of her formal, and she said to me,
and then she shed a few tears. If I had to guess, she was crying because she actually cared about me, and was sad that I couldn’t see for myself what she saw. She probably saw a really good person, but someone who was always so serious and didn’t know how to have any fun. On a night that was supposed to be a lot of fun, I walked home in my suit speechless.
Before I knew it, a few months into the fall semester of 2013 (my junior year), I burnt out. I came home every day and napped, I kept getting sick, and I was mentally fried. This cycle lasted for a month, and then hit me again at the start of the New Year.
But through written reflection and exercises, I started to better understand who I was as a person and “why” I was doing what I was doing when I entered college. Neal and I started to trace back to when I was in high school. I entered a brand new high school in Northern Virginia as the kid named “quitter” from quitting the freshman football team.
Because I was smaller than the majority at the time, someone thought it was funny to call me “Tamon” from the lion king … And that did not take long too catch fire quickly. Also, during this period of my life, I was never good enough from a sports standpoint.
I worked so hard to play basketball – to the point where I developed a workout schedule of 3 workouts a day, 6 days a week, for an entire year, just to be a part of a team. I learned work ethic, but I came up short two out of the three times in tryouts. I was cut freshman year on the final day of tryouts from a Freshman team that went undefeated. I was the only kid who made Junior Varsity, that was cut the previous year.
But I tore my groin the second-to-last day of tryouts and missed the majority of the season.
I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel yet, so I developed another intensive training regimen for 8 months, only for the coach to only give me 10 seconds of his time after my 3 years of countless effort to a program for him to tell me …
And that gut-wrenching feeling is something someone only knows if they have given 110% of their effort to something and then fallen short. But what I learned was so much more powerful and serves me to this day.
I wasn’t going to let the fear of failure keep me from pushing myself to my limits in order to be a part of something bigger than myself. I also learned about how, at the end of the day, no matter how hard I tried, it was up to a coach to make a decision, thus putting the “keys to my future” in his hands.
And that is “why” I believe in entrepreneurship so much. Because if you want something bad enough, there is no “coach-like figure” stopping you to control your destiny. You have the control, you just have to be willing to fail over and over to get to where you want to be.
To cope with the decision the coach made, I remember writing letters to both the Freshman and Varsity coaches, almost as a way for me to close out the chapter, so that I could move forward with my life. It was writing about my experience, my journey, that ultimately helped me through that time. A pattern I would continue.
In academics, I was always the kid who had to stay after with the teacher in basic high school Algebra and Chemistry classes because I was a slow learner and poor test taker unless I studied a ton. I received good grades, but I had SAT / ACT scores that were below-average that almost held me back from being accepted into college.
I took three SAT/ACT Prep courses (over 15+ practice tests). Even with my preparation, I was outright rejected from my top choice, Florida. Wait-listed at Clemson and James Madison. Denied from Virginia Tech. I remember sitting in the kitchen with my Mom in February 2011 after a rec sports basketball game my senior year of high school and asking her, “what am I going to do, I have worked so hard, are my test scores really going to hold me back?” I even remember my high school counselor trying to limit my dreams, telling me to apply to lower tier schools.
I decided to write about how I would exemplify each school’s mission statement and how I would carry out their vision as an institution. Before I knew it, I was accepted into Clemson, James Madison, and then to Georgia (my last choice, thank you Dan Harris). Again, it was writing that helped me validate who I was, and which ultimately became the reason why I was admitted.
So if you haven’t started to figure it out, why did I keep falling into my own trap and terrible cycle of burnout when I entered college?
Because I entered college with the drive to prove everyone wrong who didn’t believe in me or didn’t think I was good enough during my early days. College became my time to prove my self-worth to others, where I did too much work at the expense of myself and my physical health.
I wound up on this gerbil wheel, where I was constantly in a rush, never enjoying the moment, and constantly butchering quality relationships. It was this powerful gerbil wheel where I had no control over the lever, until I started working with my psychologist who helped me change for the better.
Side-note: While I was working with Neal, one of the most powerful things I learned was that you are not proving yourself to anyone. All the people who told you that you were not good enough don’t care what you are doing. Sure, it’s nice to have that extra motivation, but I caution you, do things for yourself, not for anyone else.
When I began my senior year, I went in with a different mindset after learning about myself all summer with Neal. I simplified, had fun, and didn’t try to be Superman. I have built amazing relationships this year with people all around me and have developed stronger connections to my closest friends. I have maintained a healthy workout schedule, stayed strong mentally, and excelled academically and professionally.
I am proud to say that the biggest accomplishment in my young career happened this year as I helped successfully create a Brand Ambassador Program for the Atlanta Hawks that generated $60,00 in ticket sales. My heart goes out to the Atlanta Hawks’ incredible organization because they helped build me into the person & professional I am today.
Lastly, the Atlanta Hawks organization allowed me to present to them a vision, run with an idea, and use their brand name to do it. Without them and the opportunities the organization gave me, I wouldn’t have the confidence in myself I do today. I cannot thank Eric Platte, Jon Babul, Chris Weddige, and Joe Rickert enough for their constant efforts teaching, mentoring, and supporting me.
I’ll begin to conclude by saying it has been writing that has helped me throughout my life whenever I have needed to get through a difficult time.
Writing has helped me start and close every chapter in my life; it has always been the most effective form for me to express who I am.
I have learned what a transformative tool writing can be. I built this platform so that other people can learn how powerful writing can be for them. Also, everyone has a story. A story that should be shared.
What keeps me going is the impact we are making in the lives of those around us. For example, one of our recent stories written by Josh Jones circulated its whole way through the entire Atlanta Braves organization.
We helped him share his story, and he was amazed at how it impacted and inspired others around him. We are impacting lives by helping people convey and articulate their story in a meaningful way.
We are creating a network for students and young professionals to identify with others and develop new and powerful relationships. We are creating value and this is only the beginning of what we can do. Just the start of what we will do.
I graduate in May of 2015. My decision of what I am going to do post-graduation is to go full-time with The Wish Dish. My vision is to make The Wish Dish the most powerful writing platform for college-aged students & young professionals across the country.
To be honest with all of the readers, I am simply terrified. I am scared because what if I don’t realize my dream? Then I’ll question, should I have taken an extremely promising full time job offer so I could gain “experience” like my family told me too? What if the savings account I’m digging into from the time I started saving in high school runs out before I figure out how to support myself?
But I do know this, I am going to give this platform everything I have and fulfill my entrepreneurial endeavors. That is the only way this platform has a chance of succeeding for years to come. I’m going to go after a dream, because at the end of the day, I don’t want to look at myself in the mirror with regret and always question “what if?”
To anyone who didn’t have a place I want to Thank You for your help along my journey. It wouldn’t be possible without you!