30 for 30

[11 min read]

It’s official. Three decades. If you asked me 30 years ago where I thought I’d be at this point in my life, I wouldn’t have said anything…because I would have just been in my first hours of life. Regardless, now passes another day, and this one marks a calendar milestone- another 365 days that I survived. It’s amazing that I’ve made it this far, and it’s been truly a blessing the ride that it’s been.

A bit of a confession: I had big plans to make a short video that sort of mimics ESPN’s 30 for 30, but in the midst of losing my voice and having another child, that dream didn’t come to fruition (yet). Even still, I figured now would be as good of a time as any to get a little personal and give you guys 30 lesser known things about me, in no particular order.

[30] My real name is Nitin.
My sister started calling me ‘Nate’ when I was in middle school (she claims one of my friends asked if he could call me that and that’s where she got it from.) By high school, most of the people from my church called me Nate. Once I got to college, that’s how I introduced myself.
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[29] I only applied to one college: THE University of Illinois – Urbana, Champaign
Laziness was probably the driving force here- I didn’t want to fill out multiple applications. Also, it didn’t seem right for me to pay for applications to schools I didn’t feel like going to. I half filled out an application for MSOE (Milwaukee School of Engineering) because the online form was free, but that was about it. Praise God that I got in.
[28] For part of my college career, I was a Spanish major.
I went into college ‘undecided’. After two years I was forced to declare a major, and my credits/GPA weren’t enough to get me into the Math department at the time ,so I declared as a Spanish major. It was only for about half a semester, and ultimately I did make my way in to the Math department and graduated with a Math major and CS minor.
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[27] I had perfect attendance through the end of high school.
That’s right. Never missed a day. Not in elementary school. Not junior high. Not high school. I was never sick enough to get called out, and we never took vacations during the school year. I didn’t ditch on senior ditch day, either. What do I have to show for it? A piece of paper that reminds me I never missed a day.
[26] I had imperfect attendance my sophomore year of college.
Large lectures don’t take attendance and post lecture notes and such online. I had a lot of those classes. So I really only went to discussion sessions where attendance mattered. I kept track of my missed days, and it was somewhere over 200 classes I missed. Chalk that one up as immaturity…and another picture of God’s grace and mercy that I ever graduated.
[25] In high school, I was voted celebrity look-alike for Orlando Jones.
I feel like I should be playing the race card here.
[24] I’m one of the funniest people you’ll ever meet.
Sadly, it takes some time for people to catch on right away to my sarcasm/humor, which has gotten me into a lot of trouble (mainly by my wife). She’s taught me to hold back on the sarcasm in initial meetings, and I slowly let it out as relationships get stronger. It’s tough, but I’m working through it.
[23] I married my first (and only) girlfriend.
I’m one of the lucky ones. Friends for 4 years in college. Told her I liked her. Dated for 1 year. Engaged for 2 years. Married for 5. 2 kids later, and here we are.
[22] I only went to one school dance pre-college.
It was in 6th grade, and only because that’s where we were receiving our basketball trophies for playing on the team.
[21] I’m terrible at drawing.
I still try, anyway. I’ve always wanted to be good at sketching, but things never turn out the way I envision it in my head. Every now and then, something looks semi-decent and gives me a bit of hope.
[20] I chipped my front tooth playing basketball in elementary school.
By ‘basketball’, I mean throwing a rolled-up sock into a stretched-out wire hanger hung above a bedroom door. And by “playing” I mean I tried to dunk on said hoop, and slammed my face into the door. I’ve spent most of my life like this and know no other way, which is why I never got it fixed.
[19] I’ve never broken a bone in my body.
I once broke a friend’s wrist while playing softball. Oh, I break people’s ankles all the time in basketball. But for my own health, I’m good. (I’ve ‘tweaked’ every joint in my body, though).
[18] I’ve gotten stitches only one time in my life, playing tennis.
By “playing tennis”, I was in my house and my sister threw a tennis ball at me. I ducked to avoid being hit and slammed my head on the coffee table, and needed stitches just under my right eye and underneath my right eyebrow. Yes, the only major injuries I’ve had have been from incorrectly playing sports indoors.
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[17] I’ve always come in second place in sports.
Basketball, football, volleyball, soccer…at best, I would finish in 2nd. It was sort of like a curse. My friends felt so bad for me in college, that they invited me to play in a volleyball tournament at Purdue and we won. The competition wasn’t that great, and I’m pretty sure they set up a fake tournament just so I can say I won something. I’ll take it.
[16] I used to collect stamps.
To balance it out, I also collected baseball and basketball cards. And I still have the sports cards- I’m pretty sure I lost all the stamps.
[15] I was president of the Chess club my freshman year of high school.
According to the yearbook, I was also a member of the math team, though I never showed up to anything. Again, to even things out, I was a starting setter on the volleyball team.
[14] I got my first cell phone my sophomore year of college.
It was a Sony Ericsson T610, and I paid for it myself. After that, I got an iPhone.
[13] I’ve never read the bible from cover to cover.
I’m pretty sure I’ve read everything in the bible at some point, but the few times I attempted to go from Genesis to Revelation, I failed.
[12] I never watched Michael Jordan play live.
Prior to college, the only sports team I saw live were my beloved Cubs. However, since college I have been to the United Center (Bulls), Soldier Field (Bears), Wrigley Field (Cubs), and US Cellular (White Sox) at least once.
[11] There were 702 people at my wedding.
This was a 1 day event…in Illinois. If we include the number of people who said no and international invitations, we topped over 1,000 potential guests.
[10] I am always nervous when I release images to clients.
Regardless of how satisfied I am with the images, I always get anxious that for some reason the couples’ expectations don’t match what I provided. Luckily, this has rarely been the case. It still doesn’t remove the nerves.
[09] My vision prescription hasn’t changed since I first got glasses.
I felt like I was blind, so I went to the eye doctor- they told me my eyes were a -1.25. That was sophomore year of high school. Without my glasses, I can barely see anything on the vision tests, but with them its perfectly clear. I don’t know how people function with worse vision than this.
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[08] I hate running.
Unless I’m chasing someone/something (ie. playing a sport) or being chased (ie. saving my life), running is one of the most annoying things for me. I complain pretty much the whole time, at least internally. So imagine how prideful I must have been that I ran a half-marathon my junior year of college simply to prove the point that I physically was able.
[07] I code for fun.
As a kid, I found sweet joy in programming. I started by hacking batch files to change how my computer started up. I taught myself BASIC through reading books, and took C++ courses in high school. I always thought I’d be a programmer when I grew up. Now I just do it for fun (ie. database/website coding for myself and friends).
[06] For the swimming section in gym class in high school, I stayed in the kiddie pool.
I misheard the teacher and supposedly said I couldn’t swim or was scared or something. I aced that class.
[05] My favorite pizza is Totino’s.
The wife doesn’t approve, but allows me to have it whenever she is away and I have to fend for myself. I miss my wife when she’s gone, but I love that pizza.
[04] I am an extreme introvert.
Being around many people is draining for me- entertaining, but draining. So you should feel very special when I talk with you ;)
[03] My record for finishing a Rubik’s cube is 4 minutes and 12 seconds.
This was another high school feat of mine. I don’t remember how to do it anymore, and can at best get two of the three layers done in 2 minutes.
[02] I can say the alphabet forward and backwards.
Second grade, the alphabet was on the walls across the room. It was either memorize different iterations of it or give the teacher my undivided attention.
[01] Many times I forget my age.
Luckily, I remember my birth year and I’m good at math. Thirty should be easy, hopefully.

So there you have it- 30 random and useless tidbits of information about my past. I guess it’s useful in case you need some material to start up a conversation with me at some point.

In all seriousness, while I really do just look at this as another day, I am extremely thankful and blessed to even have this new day. Everything I have received up to this point is pure grace- family, friends, career, laughter, joy, hope. But I know that I am not here simply to reminisce about the past- God’s got a greater plan and purpose for my future and each new day is a new opportunity to get closer to fulfilling that plan. Wish me luck!