First and foremost, I’m a good dude. I’m energetic and impassioned. I tell the stories of others, using their lives to illuminate truths about the world we share. I’m an everyman and a Renaissance Man, a Jack-of-all-trades and a team player.

I had an extraordinarily typical suburban upbringing. We went to church every Sunday morning and sat in the same spot every Mass. With my neighborhood friends, we invented games, destroyed basements, chugged Mountain Dew and got into a little trouble. Then I went to high school, hit my emo phase, started pretending I understood politics, life, and love. And then became a writer.

I started attending Drake University in Des Moines in the fall of 2014, realized I wasn’t God’s gift to literature, and became a journalist, graduating three-and-a-half years later with degrees in mass communication and English.

I believe in being a good person, in putting your head down and doing good work, in saying thank you (even if it slips my mind more than it should), asking people how their day was, and telling my friends I love them. A mentor of mine always said, “Wherever you are, be all there,” words I’ve endeavored to live up to.

I’ve never been any good at sitting still. Busy is my state of being, and I prefer it that way. It’s better to have four deadlines looming and work in the morning than to be caught sitting still. There’s a Post-It note next to my desk which reads: “The best way to learn how to swim is by jumping in the water without a life jacket.” You’ll fight to stay afloat at first; you’ll be freestyling soon enough if you stay in the water.

One of my mother’s favorite proverbs was, “Do what needs doing.” That includes picking up someone else’s slack, shouldering the thankless task or apologizing for my own mistake. If all I’m ever destined to be is a cog in a machine, then I’m going to be the best damn cog I can be.