Turning Point

“Aaron, when you wake up, you need to stand as 10,000. That’s how the world is changed.”

I’m standing tall.

My life was taken for a very wild ride this year. Sitting here while slurping down coffee from my favorite Jack Skellington mug, I’m reminded of the joy and goodness that comes with the fruition of good opportunities, risk and quality people. It’s a bit overwhelming, to be honest with you.

I recently took a trip to New York and spent quality time with some of my very best friends. Between the meals, photo shoots and overpriced drinks at swanky NYC bars, I walked away with several impartations of wisdom and encouragement that have been instrumental in affirming and shaping my mindset. One of the revelations is as follows.

I’m Aaron Plaat. I was raised in a charismatic religious household, homeschooled until the age of 15 and spent a good portion of my teenage years being carted around in a 15 passenger van; complete with an extended roof and bus-style door that opened from the inside. It was ugly as sin and filled with dry-erase writing on the inside of the van…compliments of my mom asking visitors to draw on the inside of the van. Maps, charts, and educational quotes were also littered on the inside of the van. It had a large box heater in the very back and a distinctive smell from its days of being used as a senior citizen transportation vehicle. At the time, my best friend would show up with his parents in their brand new Cadillac CTS and Lexus LS400. At the time, I was morbidly embarrassed.

Our family shopped at thrift stores. To this very day, I can count the number of full-priced designer items I’ve purchased on a single hand. My shopping home was found in the clearance racks, consignment stores, and secondhand pass-me-downs from others.

When I was younger, I wanted so badly to fit in with others and have the life they had. From the cars to the clothes, all I could see was the surface-level items that made me feel like I was an outcast.

I wanted to attend Worthington Public Schools so that I could go to school with my friends…in lieu of attending full-time college courses at the age of 15-18.

My entire life, I’ve tried to run from this image of who I was as a nerdy homeschooled kid with clothing that had holes in the neck from the staples used to attach thrift store price tags.

I was wrong.

am the homeschool nerd with boxy glasses, thrift store clothing, the ugliest van on the face of the earth and accustomed to ordering 2 items from the $.99 menu at fast food restaurants. I embrace it.

We cannot run from who we are. Otherwise, it cheapens and dilutes the very thing that gives us our essence; our identity. It is only when we reach within our identity and embrace who we are and where we’ve come from that we can ever step into a position of being truly happy with our identity and living in the power that it provides.

While I am 27 years-old, living in a shag-tastic apartment with designer labels and a plethora of high-end gadgets that give Uncrate a run for its money, my identity remains found in the dorky young child that fed pigeons at Griggs Reservoir with my family (while they were feeding ducks), and taking the #18 (or #61 when I wanted to ball) bus downtown to volunteer at COSI Science Center while riding a Razor scooter through the streets of downtown Columbus, OH.

I am the nerd that knows how to give a Shabbat blessing, blow a shofar, run a sound board/AV set, play an autoharp, operate MS-DOS, sing in a choir and take a licking from a breadboard-turned-paddle.

And I will never, ever run from this again. Nor will I be embarrassed of my upbringing. I am damn proud to have had this experience because it made me who I am today. And that person is somebody I can respect and be proud of.

Thanks, Mom. I should have realized this decades ago.

Featured Image From Deviantart

  • I am so proud of you. This blog brought a huge smile to my face. I was waitnig a long time until you came to this realization. I didn’t want to say anything because I knew that you had this deep down inside of you and it would come out at the right time. You’ve transformed into a handsome, intelligent and successful young professional. I’m so grateful to have you in my life and I hope we can continue our friendship years down the line. You are one of a kind and extremely blessed. Aaron, you’re a chAMP.

  • I had the privilege to know your mom and dad. For years I got to watch your older siblings. 🙂 I didnt get to know you that well. I wish I had.

    I remember a van that your mom taught me how to play my very first flute. It was in exchange for babysitting. Your mom was and is very creative. she has a way of making something from nothing. It wasnt until I became a parent that I actually started to envy her in a way. I remember I always loved her but wanted so much to be the mom that she was to her kids.

    With alot of things in life…we dont really grasp the impact of them until we are older. Its ok to feel that way…it is….as a parent I hear my children say some very similar things to me. (about clothes, etc)….I know that one day it will be a lesson for them. A time to look back and be grateful as you are now. I sis the same thing when I went away to college and had faced the world.

    I think it is a great tribute to your mom to be able to be grateful and thankful for the time she had with you, all she taught you and the gifts she gave you.


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