Jim Carrey once said “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at what you do love.”

A week ago was my last day as a bricklayer after 20 years. My biggest fear coming out of high school was what I would do with my life. I wasn’t good at anything besides partying with my friends. I didn’t go to college. Spent the first 18 years of my life with no direction. It was scary. Some nights I’d wake up in a cold sweat of fear that I would live my life as a failure.

I did my best to avoid facing that fear, until I found bricklaying. It was the first thing I was ever good at. I loved that I was good at it. It was the first thing that eliminated those sleepless nights. From there, I instilled a work ethic and mindset I never had growing up. I learned to work with different personalities, tried my best to be a team player, help the new guys, pull from the same rope, show up on Sundays even if I didn’t have to and just work hard.

But it wasn’t always easy or even fun at times. And I had some pretty tough bosses that kept me on my toes, that’s for sure. I learned a lot about myself. The good and the bad. Hard work will do that.

Then about five years ago, I started on a sports media journey that was long overdue. I started small. I got into high school sports coverage. Found my way onto a podcast network. Branched off on my own. Gave fans a perspective from the stands that I’ve always felt was lacking in sports coverage. I wanted to share the experiences I had enjoyed my whole life. To my surprise, it started to gain some traction. People enjoyed my coverage. And that’s when I formed my vision of a new life. To do something I truly love.

When CHGO started up last year, I knew it was a perfect fit. The brand was exactly how I identified as a fan. And I was desperate to be a part of that team. Luckily, they were interested in bringing me to the fold and when I was hired last September, it was a cornerstone moment for me. It was all my hard work starting to pay off. Getting to sit beside so many that I have looked up to for as long as I’ve been a fan will never not be surreal. And I’ll never take it for granted. Over the last nine months, I’ve continued to learn and grow because of the great supporting cast around me.

That’s when I started to consider life beyond bricklaying. I’ve almost quit everyday since April, knowing where my real passion was. Bricklaying was something I like. Sports is something I love. But it’s a scary thing to let go of the one thing you were ever good at. It’s all I’ve known. It took me back to those days when I was in a cold sweat of fear. Not sure about my future. The universe gave me some signs it was time to move on as well. So I listened. 

Working with CHGO is night and day compared to life as a bricklayer. Everyone is much more happy at the jobsite and your bosses tend to be a tad bit nicer than what I’m used to! A welcomed change. Makes me want to work even harder. So that’s what I asked. Can I work harder? Can I do more? Luckily the answer was yes.

So now I’m a producer in training to go along with my other responsibilities I have in front of the camera. Now I also get to be behind it. Trying to remind myself how to type on a keyboard. I could barely turn on the computer this week without help. But luckily the staff at CHGO is as welcoming and helpful as it gets.

About four days into training and I’ve had some steady progress learning to run the cameras, the audio board, the graphics, the chat. The pre-production and post-production tasks being the hardest part. Nothing I can’t handle, but a thousand little tasks that I have to learn step by step. Or in my case, brick by brick. 

And that’s it. Just trying to keep that same work ethic and mentality I’ve had for the last 20 years in hard labor. Not every day is going to be perfect. A brick wall is never perfect. I probably made 10 mistakes on Thursday but I’m better off for them. Because I’ll learn from them.

So I’ve moved on. Starting a new life. I’m betting on myself with the goal of making my family and friends proud. I don’t care about anything else. The amount of people that have believed in me, supported me, and have been there for me when they had no reason to, deserve that. I want to prove them right.

I’m excited to see how far I can take this and hungry to keep growing. Will I miss bricklaying? Absolutely. Poured my heart and soul into it. A lot of blood, sweat and tears left on those job sites. And I promise to always keep the blue-collar mentality but I’m putting that mindset into my true passion from now on.

Jim Carrey finished that same speech by saying this: “Take a chance on faith. Not religion, but faith. Not hope, but faith. I don’t believe in hope. Hope is a beggar. Hope walks through the fire and faith leaps over it.”

I have faith in my passion. So I’m betting on that. 

Brick by brick.

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Co-host and Swiss Army knife for CHGO covering the Chicago Bears. Former bricklayer with a sports addiction. Founder of Braggs in The Stands. Find me on Twitter @GBraggsJr23