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An Essay about Leadership, Donut Team, and life skills

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Thomas Donofri
1 week ago · edited
Leadership is working towards big goals. These goals can be as simple as trying to acquire a higher position at the workplace. But nonetheless, these goals sometimes require sacrifice. This is what my father does on a daily basis. My dad is currently an Assistant Grocery Manager at the Forestville Stop & Shop. When he has a issue with a co-worker, he doesn’t focus on the petty issue between him and another person. He focuses on getting the task at work done first. He prioritizes what needs to be done and then deals with the co-worker afterwards. My dad works 6 days a week, 40+ hours a week. He also is our handiman. He fixes our vehicles, he fixes things in the house, (like our water heater). All he does is give, but for a cost. He is tired a lot of the time. He is overworked, and then he has to come home to a family with a special needs teenager (me). But he always tells me, “in life, you have to make sacrifices… Live in the moment, because time is the most valuable currency, because you can never get it back.” He doesn’t wake up in the morning thinking in a negative way, he thinks “in the moment.” He values the time we share with him. Despite it not being a lot of time, he makes the best of it.

Mr Tanguay, my shop instructor also comes to mind when I think about who has helped me the most in my life. He always taught me and my classmates to enjoy life while we are here. He always comes to school energized, he is living his dream job, teaching. He always is more awake than the rest of us when we come into class. He is one of the most positive people I’ve had the fortune to meet.

In my life, things haven’t always been so happy for me. I’ve had to struggle with multiple issues in my life. 2 of these come to mind; Committing to a long term goal, and dealing with disappointment. I’ve had trouble committing to long term goals for all my life. For instance, when my mom shelled out, (for a year) money for me to go to a gym to lose weight. I didn’t commit. I tried not to go because I associated exercise with a negative feeling. I am what you’d call a “computer geek,” and I barely went outside unless I had to. I was addicted to video games. All I talked about was video games, all I did was play video games, it goes on. This was the only thing I was good at. I wasn’t good at sports like football or basketball. I didn’t have too many friends because I was still developing my social skills. This was a window into another realm where I was actually good at something. I only recently started to realize this was a problem. When I was in 8th grade, I was at my worst. I was letting my emotions control me to the point where I exploded everyday in class. My only outlet was video games. But I applied to <Redacted>, hoping to be in Computer Aided Drafting and Design. This was the point where my life changed the most. Midway through Freshman year, my mom suffered a heart attack. She is still here, but that for me was the startling realization where I decided I had to do something other than video games. I still play more than 2 hours a day, but I’ve found a new hobby, programming. I joined an online community in June 2015 called “Donut Team.” These were people who developed modifications of the 2003 video game “The Simpsons: Hit & Run.” I didn’t start messing with the game’s code till about January the following year, but it wasn’t until June 2016 when things started to bloom. I released my first mod, “Army of Cola: Evergreen Buzz.” This mod by no means was great, it was riddled with bugs, design flaws, and other things. But it taught me another valuable lesson. Handling disappointment/criticism. This community at the time had roughly 500-1000 people, and when I first made the thread for my mod, people were quick to critique it. I at first took offense to that, once again associating something with negative emotions. But these people wanted to help me better my mod. They were only leaving negative reviews because there was so much I could have improved. My next mod was not much better, and in anger, I deleted these 2 mods from my cloud storage so nobody could download them. But this wasn’t the proper way to do things. I realized I wanted to make a mod that was great. So I took 2 months to develop this modification. It was called “Wiggum In Zombieland.” This is when the reviews turned from bad to good. Many people were encouraging me to finish it (I released a public demo) and the praise was almost universal. But when I released it, I forget to test a few things, and the launch was less than what I’d hoped. But I took this opportunity to fix the issues, and release updates. Then one of my friends online uploaded a video playing through the whole mod. This video currently has 21,151 views, and that's only one video of it. 10 videos of it total 50,000+ views. This hugely boosted my self esteem, and taught me both how to handle disappointment, and how to commit to long term goals. Each mission (8 total) for Wiggum In Zombieland only took 90 minutes to make. But I tested everything, added in elements to “spice it up,” and people in the Donut Team Community helped me with development. Multiple people pitched ideas, assisted me with mission making, etc. Now, we are in February of 2017. I want to become a programmer for my career. I am currently using online tutorials to learn C++, a popular and powerful coding language. My dream is to be on a large team whether it be creating a video game or a program. I want to write code. With this, I am now a Junior at <Redacted>. I want to finish school first. Everything is one step at a time...
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Darknight
1 week ago
Thomas this was beautiful
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PandaXletsplay
1 week ago
Your dad seems like a good man.
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Darknight
1 week ago
Thomas tbh i think we have similar dads lol but mine works at krogers
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Trainman84
1 week ago
Thomas, my teens were half my lifetime ago, but thinking back, you are similar to how I was back then. I, too, was considered "Special needs" (Autism, aspergers syndrome) and dealt with a LOT growing up. For me it was abuse, hurt, being used, being harassed, but I did have one outlet. My trains. And our dads sound very similar. My dad and I had a lot of good father-son time over our train layout in the basement, but he worked hard. My mom is very violent and abusive, we now think it is something hereditary (And thank God I am adopted then!) and mostly out of her control, but dad worked long hours to not only distance himself from her, but to afford things for me and my sister, to help us cope with her abuse. He worked for the Boy Scouts as a program director, so it was a job he could bring us along to many times. So he wasn't absent, often we went to the office with him. Having a branch of the public library in the same building helped!

When I was younger, I let little things get to me. I was a perfectionist to an insane degree with my models. I once put a week's worth of evenings into a single freight car, then destroyed it as I found one minor component shifted while the glue was drying. It was a small brake cylinder under the car. Not even visible while the car is on the track, but it bothered me, and I threw a week of work onto the basement concrete floor, shattering it.

My dad eventually taught me an important lesson. That the pursuit of perfection is a pursuit of disappointment. It was something he worked with me slowly on. I admired my grandfather as a master craftsman. He was very much an old world stereotypical German craftsman. Dad sat me down with blueprints of locomotives and cars my grandfather built in the pre-WWII days, compared the details. Yes, some components were missing, or off slightly. But he did not let it get to him. And neither should I. About that time I took an interest in antique model trains, and restoring and rebuilding that stuff really got me past the perfectionist mentality. Because in the 1930s, models tended to be a bit crude compared to now. Mostly made of paper and wood, they still had a charm of their own in their construction. I still take pride in my workmanship, of course, but no longer go ape over minor issues.

Despite my problems as a kid, eventually I did get to pursue my life dream of working for the railroad. Despite the abuse, being locked in a group home for two years because my mother felt disabled people should not be allowed to live their own lives, I knew I had one chance to prove people like her wrong. Went through trade school, listened to my dad and studied a backup career choice (PC repair- IT service), and hired on at the BNSF Railway. A derailment ended my career and left me permanently injured, there's not much left of my lower back, but now I get to do something I love just as much, AND get to be home every evening. I work at a hobby shop, repair trains for them, and manage a model railroad club. With a lot of hard work and personal growth, this was how my younger years turned out.
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