10 Life Lessons I’ve Learned During 24 Years on Earth

Today is a special day for me…

It’s my 24th birthday!

Am I telling you this so you’ll give me a present and wish me happy birthday?

Well no (all though that would be totally cool if you want to).

Instead I want to share with you 10 lessons that I’ve learned throughout my life.

This isn’t to say I’ve been through the worst of times or for you to have pity.

It’s what I’ve gone through personally.

Hopefully you can relate to some of the lessons, or learn from them without having to make the same mistakes I did.

Either way let’s go ahead and dive right in with the first lesson…

Story #1: Nearly Going Blind When I was 10-years Old

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Something tragic happened during P.E. when I was in the 4th grade.

I was going up for a jump ball against the only kid in my class who’s taller than me.

On the way down his elbow came crashing into my eye.

Ouch!

The pain eventually subsided, but I went to the eye doctor that evening to check it out.

He informed me that my retina in my right eye was hanging on by a thread.

If it had detached I was going to go blind in that eye.

I was immediately sent to an eye specialist in Dallas for surgery that night.

And craziest thing was that I was worried about only one thing.

I was worried that I had math homework due the next day.

Luckily my teacher gave me a break.

Thanks Mrs. Hermes you rock!

Fortunately the doctors were able to repair my eye and everything is good now.

Lesson Learned: Take Nothing for Granted. It Can All Be Taken Away in an Instant.

I nearly went blind in one eye.

That would have been a pretty horrible experience.

I go through most days expecting the following:

  • To wake up
  • To have my vision
  • To hear
  • To have my health

The reality is that any of these things can be taken away in an instant and I’m lucky enough to be granted with these gifts in the first place.

Yet I assume they should be given to me, as if I’m entitled to them.

This isn’t how the world works!

Take nothing for granted and instead find gratitude with what you do have.

It’ll make you happier and more successful.

Story #2: Getting Rejected by Texas A&M University for College

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There I was minding my own business eating dinner in the kitchen.

My mom walks up and hands me a letter from Texas A&M.

I was nervous as I carefully opened the envelope.

Would I get in?

As you can tell by the subtitle the answer is no I didn’t get accepted.

It was a setback no doubt.

I eventually had to settle for the University of North Texas after my first choice fell through. 

Lesson Learned: Bet on yourself to Be Successful

I have fallen for a lie just like you.

You were told that if you colored in the lines and made good grades you would get into a stellar university.

Then once you graduate you could get a “secure” well-paying job and live happily ever after.

The problem?

What happens when things don’t go as planned and you get rejected or fired?

You panic.

All of the sudden no one is telling you what to do.

Where do you go next?

The solution—bet on yourself.

I thought a flimsy piece of paper with words in a medieval font would determine my success.

Wrong!

I create my own success with my unique ambition, passion, and talent.

So can you!

Think about it, a student who gets into Harvard studies hard and is resolute on getting what he or she wants.

Those traits are going to make the student successful, not the degree.

Story #3: Receiving NO Job Offers After Graduating College

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After graduating from the University of North Texas with a Kinesiology degree guess how many job offers I got?

Again the subtitle is a dead giveaway here…ZERO!

I eventually got a job at a pet store making $8.60 an hour.

I was honestly relieved to hear I would be making more than minimum wage.

In all seriousness, was it worth 3.5 years and going into $25,000 worth of debt to make $8.60 an hour? Yeah…

Lesson Learned: College is a Scam

You might think I’m mad because college didn’t work out for me like I was told it supposedly would.

But I’m far from being alone.

In fact, 51% of college grads have jobs that don’t require degrees.

Another 7.2% of graduates are unemployed.

We think college is the safe bet for success, but there’s nothing safe about it.

How is going into thousands of dollars of debt at age 18 safe?

Up to that point the biggest spending decision you made was to go to the movies.

Now you’re going to spend $100,000 on a degree that guarantees nothing?

Ridiculous.

Again bet on yourself not college to become successful.

Story #4: Losing Touch With a Friend Over a Card Game

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I had a sleepover when I turned 16 for one of my birthday parties.

We were all into this game called Yu-Gi-Oh, so naturally there had to be a tournament to determine the best player.

Somewhere along the way my younger brother played one of my friends for a card—and lost.

This card was crazy good and I didn’t want to lose it, so I refused to give it up and tried to work something else out.

My friend wanted what was owed to him, and he ended up leaving in the middle of the night.

I thought it would blow over soon enough, but I was dead wrong.

I didn’t talk to him for over a year because of a card game.

Lesson Learned: ALWAYS Stay True to Your Friends

Back then I thought I could get away with keeping the card and my friendship, but that’s clearly not the way it played out.

I should’ve given my friend what was owed to him.

Life is too short to lose touch with a friend for any length of time let alone a year.

And research shows the positive benefits that come with friendship:

Have you lost touch with a friend recently?

Reach out to him or her and make things right.

Be willing to forgive and move on.

Help the person out in any way you can.

I’m glad I learned this lesson over a little card game instead of something much more serious.

Story #5: Not Kissing a Girl Until I was 22 Years Old

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Growing up I was very awkward socially (I still am at times).

I didn’t interact with people very much especially girls.

During college I would see couples on campus and wonder why I couldn’t have what they did.

I was also self-conscious of something—I had never kissed a girl.

I hated talking about girls because I feared my secret might have to come out.

I had come close to kissing a drunken girl at a party, but that was about it.

Then it finally happened.

I went to a New Years Eve party with a girl I really liked.

As the clock struck midnight I nervously went in for it… Bam!

Thomas Rohmer had finally kissed a girl!

It was a special moment and I’m now proud to call this person my girlfriend.

Lesson Learned: You Don’t Have to Accept Social Norms

I didn’t kiss a girl until I was 22 years old.

Big deal!

Sure I could’ve kissed that drunk girl, but would that moment have meant anything?

Definitely not!

Society, the media, and whatever else made me think I had to kiss a girl and be in a relationship to fit in.

As if I wasn’t a man for not kissing a girl yet?

Ok…Stop acting like that kiss you had when you were 13 was the greatest thing ever.

Pretending it was the big turning point in your life.

Give me a break!

I’m here to tell you’re no less of a man or women if you’ve been single your entire life.

You have a lot of value to provide to this world and someone will love you for that someday.

But you’re missing out on so many opportunities by moping around wishing you were like JoJo and Jordan on the Bachelorette.

You’re awesome the way you are so don’t be afraid to show it!

Story #6: Not Getting to Play College Basketball

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Basketball is my favorite sport without a doubt.

Coming out of high school I desperately wanted to play for a team in college.

I didn’t receive much attention from any schools, so I had to do the recruiting myself.

I eventually got a meeting with the head coach of a small Division III school.

It was May 11, 2011—that day is still ingrained in my head.

The meeting went poorly.

He essentially said I would be on the practice team.

I would have to go door-to-door selling t-shirts and getting donations to support the team’s Adidas sponsorship.

And worst of all he kept talking about a 6’8” 280-pound recruit he was hoping to land.

I cried during the car ride home.

I knew my basketball career was essentially over at that point.

The best I could do was play for some other small school, but I didn’t want to for the following reasons:

At that point I choose to be a regular student at the University of North Texas.

Lesson Learned: Don’t Do Something Unless You Plan to be the Best at It

Looking back on my basketball career I realized something—I didn’t give it everything I had.

I wouldn’t stay late after practice, I wouldn’t come in by myself at 6 in the morning.

Simply put—I didn’t get the job done.

I still have dreams about the summer before my senior year where I imagine the way things should’ve gone down.

But I can’t dwell on those times now— the past is the past.

The only thing I can do is take what I learned from failing at basketball and apply it to the rest of my life, namely RohmerFitness.com.

I can’t let the same fate happen to my business like I did with basketball.

I have to give it everything I have.

And there’s no one to blame if I fail. It’s all on me.

Story #7: Bombing an Essay Worth 20% of My Final Grade

failing an essay

Another lovely part about college is getting to waste your time and money on “core classes.”

But hey the university wants you to be “well-rounded” so it’s ok!

Anyway I had to take a British Literature class for my degree.

A huge grade was an essay comparing traits from something modern to traits during medieval times.

Naturally, my essay was about Kanye West’s song Gold Digger, and how women back then would get with men just for their money.

I bombed the essay with a 25.

My professor said she had never heard of the song and my research was poorly done.

Sure my research could’ve been better, but you’ve never heard of the 2020 president? Come on!

Lesson Leaned: Don’t Let One Person Determine Your Success

My spirits were shot after that class.

It was the first C I made in college.

I was relieved that I passed the class.

Now I know better than to get down on myself over one person’s decision/opinion.

That grade says nothing about who I am as a student or person.

What if my professor was a 26-year old Kanye fan fresh out of grad school who thought my paper was hilarious?

I would’ve made an A, even though it was the same essay.

I’m not any better of a writer—it’s just a different opinion.

I can’t let myself get too low because one person didn’t like my paper.

You need to do the same.

One person might not like you for one job.

One person might not like you for a romantic relationship.

But so what?

There are plenty of other people out there who want need you for something.

Story #8: “Winning” a Free Cruise

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I was at a Rangers game, and I played a game where I had to guess the number of baseballs in a gigantic container.

I didn’t win that prize, but I did get a call saying my name had been drawn for a free cruise.

I was ecstatic—luck was finally on my side!

However, before heading down to claim my prize, I fortunately Goggled the company.

It turns out they do some shady business.

They award people “free” trips (which aren’t totally free) as an incentive to show up.

Then once you arrive you must go through a presentation before you get your prize.

During this presentation they try to sell you a timeshare, which is a bad investment.

I left that day feeling ripped off and disappointed.

I should’ve listened to my skeptical dad from the get-go.

Lesson Learned: Want Something? Earn It. Stop Waiting to Get Lucky

Soon after I escaped the scam I remembered the old saying—if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

Of course!

The reality is if you want something go out there and earn it.

It’s much more rewarding that way.

Don’t wait around buying lottery tickets hoping for the best.

Especially considering your life will get worse if you do win the lotto.

Remember, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

So go out there and start making your own luck.

Don’t rely on other people like your parents, spouse, boss, or the government to get the ball rolling.

You have to take action yourself.

Lesson #9: When My Vote for Class Favorite Went Terribly Wrong

voting

What kid doesn’t want to win the class favorite title?

It reinforces how popular you truly are.

And it’s not until after you graduate that you realize how pointless it is.

In the moment though it’s all you want.

One year I had no idea who I should vote.

A girl eventually came up to me and said I should vote for her.

Not wanting to disappoint my classmate, I went ahead and penciled in my vote for her.

Then a few minutes later a different girl came up to me and said I should vote for her.

Not wanting to upset her, I started to change my vote.

Then someone came up to me and said, “Stop trying to please everyone, just stick with your decision and turn it in.”

Wow that woke me up.

Needless to say neither of those girls won so it didn’t matter, but I still learned a valuable lesson…

Lesson Learned: You Can’t Please Everyone so Stop Trying

There are 7+ billion people on this earth.

Do you really think you’ll be able to understand and please everyone everywhere you go?

There’s no way.

People have different opinions and values then you do.

It’s called diversity and that’s ok.

When you try to make everyone happy, you lie to yourself.

You go out of your way and do things you wouldn’t normally do.

You become a pushover.

Being a people pleaser is something I’ve struggled with a lot in the past and still struggle with to this day.

I know I won’t be able to overcome this trait overnight.

I’ll have to work at it bit by bit.

The end result will be well worth it—living a life true to myself instead of others.

Story #10: Losing My Job as a Personal Trainer

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Recently the gym I work at had a change in owners.

After an eight minute phone call with the new owner it was obvious that I wasn’t going to meet expectations.

So I’ll no longer be working there.

People are asking me what gym I’m going to next.

The truth is I’m not looking around at all.

There are only so many people I can service in a gym doing one-on-one sessions.

I want to maximize my reach, and this website is the tool that’ll help me achieve my goal.

I also want to make a living off of my website.

I have to go for it.

And so what if I fail?

Worst case I’ll have to get another job in addition to the pet store to pay the bills.

But what’ll happen if I never go for it because I’m afraid?

I’ll live a life where I slave away to help make somebody else rich, and I’ll always have to wonder what if.

I can’t let this fear of failing in front of others cripple me any longer.

I can’t wait around until things are perfect because they never will be.

I have to be honest with you about what it is I really want.

And making a living off this website is exactly what I want.

Lesson Learned: Nobody is Safe. You Have to Go for It.

I thought I had a secure job as a personal trainer.

Then suddenly owners changed and I was gone.

You probably have a “secure” job as well.

You’ll be able to work there for the next 40 years and then retire comfortably.

Except people rarely work at only one place their entire career—people switch jobs about every 4.6 years.

Who’s to say your boss won’t leave or your company won’t get sold?

That you’ll be replaced by someone/something who can work more efficiently than you?

You must be prepared for anything to happen—this is life after all.

Start working towards what it is you actually want to do in life instead of just living for a paycheck.

You have bills to pay?

Great so does everyone else.

You’re going to have to do it on the side and take that risk.

You’ll have to do what others won’t so later on you can live the life they can’t.

You’ll have to go for it.

Final Thoughts

I’ve learned a lot during my 24 years of life on this earth.

I still have much more to learn.

Hopefully you can relate to these lessons or learn from them.

Now I’d like to hear your thoughts.

What are some lessons you’ve learned during your life?

Have you gone through anything similar to what I have?

P.S. Be sure to stay turned for next week’s article where I’ll be sharing with you 10 Fitness Lessons I’ve Learned from 11 Years of Working Out.

Leave a Reply

4 Comments

  1. BRUCE WICK

    Hey, Thomas!

    Will you respond, if I do comment? Messages-in-bottles are overrated, I think; so I rarely do them anymore.

    Happy 24th Birthday!

    Kind regards,

    BRUCE T.

    • tarohmer

      Thanks Bruce! And yes I’ll respond.

  2. Sandra

    Very interesting and relateable stories! You seem like a very happy, well-rounded person with big dreams and the ability to make them realities! I did not know even one of these stories about you, but you definitely are not defeated or less of a man because of any of the hardships you’ve experienced! You are a very sweet, kind, loving person who I’m proud to say has landed in my daughter’s path! God Bless You Thomas Rohmer!

    • tarohmer

      Thanks Sandra that means a lot to me! I’m really glad to have met your daughter and she’s taught me so much!