The Day I Decided To Take Control
It was Saturday, March 2, 2013. I was 22 years old and I weighed myself that morning after a weekend trip to Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ (where I had been going to school the year prior, but lost my admission because I lost my financial aid eligibility). I had to take the year off from school because I lost my financial aid, but often visited my friends to see them and party. I was 177lbs and 26% body fat. I was disgusted with myself and reached a new level of low. I ballooned up from an average 140lbs that I walked around at from when I was 17-19. I was disgusted with myself and I was tired of myself, my actions, my mental dysfunction, and my dwindling lack of motivation & ambition, 2 things I rarely lacked growing up. More importantly, I was tired of the fact that I forgot where my priorities stood. I realized it was time for change.
Over the prior 3+ years since graduating high school I managed watch myself go into an abyss of anxiety, minor depression, and often drink away my sorrows. I often let my struggles & mishaps get the best of me. I let all the bad things that happened in my life control my way of thinking and my reactions and I almost always responded negatively to everything. Although I was into weightlifting since I was 15, I never cared or thought about the health & nutritional aspect of it. All I cared about was working out, eating as much as I could to gain weight, and partying.
I partied a lot in high school, sure, like most do, but it was after I graduated that I began to let myself go. I was on track to attend East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina in pursuit of my Bachelor's degree. I couldn't afford to apply to many colleges in high school so I applied to two, ECU, and Townson University where one of my good friend's was headed to. I got into both, but East Carolina was my goal. My family couldn't afford to go away much growing up and I stood by and worked throughout high school when a lot of my friends were going away on family vacations for spring break and every Summer. I wanted that ability to venture out on my own, so North Carolina was the plan.
My father drove myself and my best friend Matt down to visit when we were Seniors in high school, as he was also planning on going there. We fell in love with the campus, the setting, and the university itself. It was enormous and the vibe and energy was incredible. It's where I saw the next 4 years of my life to be, or so I thought.
Later that year, summer of high school graduation (2009), I had attended orientation leading up to move-in. I received my dorm and roommate info, my class schedule, welcome packet, season football tickets for the school's program, everything. I couldn't wait another month to finally move-in, only that day would never come.
A week before I was supposed to move down there, after being fully packed and ready to go, I received a call from the admissions office at the school. they called looing for a check or money order in the amount of $10,000. I didn't even know what to say to them other than 'Huh?' What I found out on that call was that my financial aid was dropped and wouldn't be processed and I had to come up with the money or I'd be removed from the active list for that year.
There was no way in hell I, or anyone in my family, would be able to come up with the money so I had to withdraw, even after being charged a $500 drop-out fee. At the same time, I was an out-of-state applicant so I didn't qualify for any North Carolina tuition aid. I was miserable, depressed, felt deprived of my future, I didn't even know how to react. so I unpacked and felt sorry for myself. I drank. I partied. I didn't give a fuck about anything. The worst part was I had left my summer job a week prior in expectation that I'd be leaving for college. so not only was I now no longer leaving, I no longer had a job. SON OF A BITCH!
After a couple weeks of loathing I realized I had to do something until I figured out my next plan for college. I lived in Monmouth County, NJ where we had Brookdale Community College, one of the top Community Colleges in the state. Until I could figure out if/when I'd even be able to go to a 4-year school I applied and began my Associate's Degree here. In hind's sight, it ended up working out for the most part, which at the time wasn't what I wanted. NJ state tuition supported most of my 2 years at Brookdale and I was able to save some money. One thing remained, I still liked to party and drink.
While attending Brookdale I began working at Ed Hardy at an outlet mall nearby. I'd ending up working my way up from stock associate, to sales associate, to assistant manager from Fall 2009 until the store and company closed in January 2013. although I was working full-time and going to school full-time, I kept partying and losing sight of my priorities.
In 2010 My friend Travis was a freshman at Rowan University, also in NJ, and I went there for a weekend to visit. At the time I had my older brother's license that I used for 2 years as my fake ID, so I was always buying the alcohol. putting on a lot of bad weight and growing my beard allowed me to look of age, so in the 2 years I had the ID I never got caught or had it taken from me. Something to be proud of when you're underage.
After visiting that weekend, a weekend that was a blur from partying, I went home and decided to apply there to be the 4-year university I'd get my bachelor's degree in. Two positives that stayed with me while I was partying and losing my way a little were the fact that I still a straight A student, and I was always working no matter what. At the very least I knew I had to maintain my grades, because I prided myself on that, and make sure I always had a job, it was a necessity because I didn't have anyone to fall back on for money all the time.
I finished out the year at Brookdale, got my associates degree in Business Administration, and was on my way to continue my education at Rowan the following fall of 2011. The 2011-2012 school year, my 3rd college year, was like my freshman year because I never got to experience it. It got ugly, and I got fatter. This was the worst year for me physically and mentally because I really let myself go (pictured above was me from a day party in April 2012) and from 2012-2013 I was at my worst.
I was drinking 5-6 nights a week, parties, bars, clubs, you name it. I was a degenerate. I took the 'Freshman 15' to a whole different level. Luckily, I always cared about my grades so made sure I always maintained that aspect for me so I couldn't fail out or lose the financial aid that I had. I just wanted to let go and have fun because I didn't know how long it would last. I even tried out for The Real World, twice! Obviously I didn't make it or I wouldn't be sitting here telling you guys about my drunken college days. What a time!
For me, college was everything. both of my parents were high school dropouts, my 2 closest, older cousins were high school dropouts, and my older brother was a high school drop out. While I was away at school, my younger brother even dropped out of high school. I was livid when that happened. Luckily, for them, they all turned out alright and are doing well.
I wanted to do was to shake the stigma that traveled with my last name. I wanted to make sure no old fuck-bag football coach could ever say 'oh shit another fucking Pisano we got here' to me ever again. But more importantly, I wanted to prove myself right that I had what it took to get a college degree. I wanted to be proud of myself and prove to myself that I had it in me, I was more than able and capable, and that there was greatness in me to accomplish anything I set out to do. On top of that, I met some of the greatest people in my life who are my best friends and will have lifelong relationships with and I couldn't be happier with my decision in going to Rowan. Only after my first year at Rowan, things went south again.
Ahead of the 2012-2013 school year I lost my financial aid, for the 2nd time in 3 years. It was rock bottom for me. I was depressed, angry, miserable, and defeated all over again. So what did I do? I worked full time at Ed Hardy still, and drank a lot, again. A couple weekends each month I would go down to Rowan to see my friends and party. I was hopeful I'd get the chance to go back in a year, but there was no way of telling because of my financial situation and the fact that I've already lost my financial aid twice. So the only I could do was work as much as I could and just go with the flow so to speak. My routine became work, work out, and drink.
Drinking often became my escape, whether it was due to the death of family members or friends, financial struggles, or domestic issues within my personal life. I just felt like drinking would take my troubles off my mind and take some of the pain away. I was pretty sick and tired of feeling like that was a cure and would make me feel better. I knew it was time to get back to the ambitious, motivated, driven, and goal-orientated hard worker that I typically was, just without all the partying while finally paying attention to my physical health, as well as my mental wealth.
I never really wanted much for Christmas from my parents from the time I was around 16 years old. I knew they often couldn't afford much and I didn't want the financial burden of the holidays to be another issue for my oft-financially troubled parents. For Christmas of 2012, I asked my mom for two things, cash, and the Insanity workout videos by Shaun T.
She got me that, and stuffed an envelope of money in my stocking. The money was used to pay off my phone bill and credit cards, and some leisure things. Insanity however, was opened once and left in the box for over 2 months. At the time, I was working as an assistant manager at the once-famed 'high end' Ed Hardy & Christian Audigier clothing store. I began working there November 2009, but in the Fall 2012 we received word that the company would be closing by the end of the year, and on January 4th 2013, the outlet location I worked at closed its doors, and the company would close completely within another month.
The following week after our store closed, the few of us to close out Ed Hard took a trip down to Atlantic City, NJ, a miniature Las Vegas for those of you not familiar with it. We partied, ate, partied, & ate some more. We enjoyed ourselves. We let go. We had a little too much fun. Yes, that's possible. And I did it a lot in my early 20s. Obviously too much according to the picture of me above.
After a week of partying we drove back home, only an hour and a 1/2 drive up north to Ocean Township, NJ. My situation went from having a decent job, but out of school, to jobless AND out of school. The next couple of weeks were troublesome and my future was questionable at best. All I wanted to do was be back at school and finish my degree as fast as possible, though I had 2 years remaining to graduate. More often than not life never goes according to plan, but how you react and respond is what builds your character. It also decides the kind of person you're choosing to become. Prior to working at Ed Hardy I worked several jobs over the years since I was 13. I always had to work, and I couldn't go much longer without making any money.
I was always an outgoing, interpersonal, & social person growing up and especially during this time. I got along with everyone and I enjoyed being surrounded by people in a fun atmosphere. Since my friends and I frequented Atlantic City a lot, I became more drawn to the atmosphere and environment that came with it. It drew me in and I became intrigued about the 'nightclub' industry. I was always a firm believer in creating your own opportunities and seeking out the things that you want.
I tried to find job openings that I'd be interested in down in AC and couldn't find anything. I sure as hell wasn't ready to go back to into retail and never wanted to ever again. It wasn't enough for me, so I reached out to a promoter for the Pool After Dark at Harrah's Resort in Atlantic City and asked how to get involved with the club and the company that he worked for. He referred me to a couple people to send an email to and within a couple days I was invited down to the club for an overview/observing night to see how the promotional team operated.
I left that night with my very first 'industry job' in the club scene as a promoter. I was grateful, excited, and optimistic as fuck. I couldn't wait to get started and see where the industry and opportunity would take me. I felt pretty good about my situation moving forward, but there were 2 more things I had to get back on track, my health & fitness, and finishing school.
I started working at the club on Friday February 8, 2013. During the first couple of weeks I took notice of how the industry operated, the types of people who were in & around the promoting world, and most of all how much the 'look' of a successful club promoter took shape, and my current physical state wasn't it. I knew this was it. The thing I needed to get my mind into the right place to move forward in the right direction. It was the perfect opportunity to manipulate my myself into realizing I have what it takes to get back on track, physically, & mentally.
I wanted to fit the 'look' for the industry, sure, but more importantly, I was finally ready to take control of life again in order to begin creating my own happiness again. My mental & physical health were most important to me, and this is when I decided it was time. So a few weeks after starting as a club promoter, I decided it was time to take the next step. I knew it was going to take a lot of hard work and would be years until I got to the place I wanted to be, but that it would all be worth it. It was time for me to start the beginning of the rest of my life.
On Saturday, March 2, 2013, I opened the box to Insanity, moved all the furniture in my bedroom for adequate space to workout, and I put in the work. Everyday for 65 straight days, 45-60 minutes a day I busted my ass to the tune of Shaun T and his workout videos. From the start to the finish of the workout set I dropped from 177lbs to 162, and 25% body fat down to 15%. I was invigorated, revitalized, and excited as fuck for what was to come. It was then that I opened my eyes and realized I was fully capable of achieving absolutely anything I put my mind to, for the rest of my life, as long as I put in the work. I was finally working again. I was getting back into shape and I was on my way to getting back into school. Everything was working out. It was that Saturday in March, the day I knew it was time to take control of my life again. It was that day, that I finally decided to Wake Up And Work.