I decided that maybe it’s time to really put myself out there and open up as a person, and if I want to make a connection with people, that can’t happen unless they know more about me.
My name is Richard Elliott Clifton, I recently turned 28 and am the youngest of 3 children. I’ve never been one to open up about myself, share my feelings, or be very expressive. Some people will tell you I’m extremely blunt, sarcastic, and don’t necessarily filter my opinion. While I don’t totally disagree with this, I’d question why someone would prefer their friends to hold back and tell them what they want to hear, especially if it’s a lie.
Looking back on life, I don’t recall much of my childhood, a lot of it is muddy. It wasn’t bad, but I can’t just reel off a bunch of stories about myself as a kid. There is one story tho….
Ricky runs away to China: When I was about 4 I had declared at the dinner table that I’d be running away to China due to something upsetting. As any good mother would do, my mother packed my little suitcase and sent me off. As I got to the street corner, I had realized one thing….I was forbidden to cross the street. So I waited and contemplated until finally our babysitter who lived across the street from us came running up asking what was wrong. This is when I declared “I’m running away to China but I’m not allowed to cross the street”. About 30 seconds later my family pulls up in the van to tell me they are going to get hot dogs (I loved hot dogs). So needless to say, I jumped in the car and all was forgotten….mainly b/c I was a 4 year old kid.
Looking back on that and having such a vivid memory of it makes me wonder if it even happened or if it’s just representation in my mind of how I’m never satisfied with anything and I’m always wanting something to be bigger and better. That I feel like there’s always more out there, that I can always do better.
High School was an odd time for me…again, I don’t recall much of it, but I do know people often thought I was different people. In high school I played sports, I took AP art, and I was in band. Needless to say, not many athletes connected me with the guy who had the AP Portfolio on the wall and the AP art students found it odd when a guy walks in to class wearing a varsity football jersey. I always felt stretched out across a diverse group of people that it was always hard to tell exactly where I fit. Looking back now I wish I had focused more so on one talent instead of tried to be a part of all three. I could have been extremely successful at one thing that I focused on as opposed to just being good at several things. I was never a scholar, I hated school…I always felt the teachers weren’t really interested in our education and that they were learning things just as we were (this doesn’t hold true for every teacher, just most). It wasn’t till later in life that I’d find out why I had issues focusing in school, but I didn’t do horrible. The only problem was is that I had big shoes to fill with a brother who graduated with like a 5.2 GPA. I wanted to go to art school but my parents felt that would be a waste of my time, that being an artist was no way to make a living. I had applied to about 8 different schools and to this day have never really told them I got accept to several of them. I graduated high school committed to no college and delivering pizzas.
Two days before school started at COD I enrolled and took whatever b.s. gen-ed classes I could get. At this time I was going to school a few days a week, delivering pizzas, and had just started learning to tattoo. My parents were not happy at all with my situation and it was getting very close to the point where I was going to get kicked out. Looking back on all of this….I don’t blame them one bit. But there was one fateful day at Domino’s where I realized I needed to do something with my life. I had been written up by a manager (who wasn’t even the real manager) because re-routed my deliveries to be more efficient. It was that day that I knew I could never work for corporate America and that I didn’t want to end up like one of the other drivers there…35 and delivering pizzas with a crazy gf who made him deposit all his checks in to her account and only gave him a weekly allowance.
This lead to me swallowing my pride for the first time ever in my life. I went and talked to my dad about getting involved in this opportunity to start an embroidery business. He had the machine already but wasn’t really doing much. He taught me a few things on the embroidery machines but for some reasons I was completely enamored by this process. I spent countless hours learning about the process, the machines, what makes them work, how to take them apart, fix them and put them back together. It was around that same time he threw Corel Draw at me and told me I needed to “figure out this program so we can set up artwork.”
Now let me be honest with you…I hated computers and up to this point in my life I refused to make art. My AP art teacher had told me she thought I was one of her only students ever that could make it in fine arts (she also told me she hated me as a person but loved me as an artist), I had received a 5 on my AP portfolio, art was my escape in life…it was the only way I expressed myself, there was no way I was going to make designs on a computer. But then again, here I am 10 years later full versed in photoshop, illustrator, corel, dreamweaver, flash….I can put up a website with ease and our designs are the driving force of our business….so it’s not that bad after all.
Here I am now at 28, we went from subletting 500 sq ft to currently owning 3000 sq ft and we’ll be adding on another 1,500 sq ft shortly. The business has blossomed in to something very unique that no one is currently doing and we’ve got people all the time trying to copy our process. I don’t want to go in to too much detail but you can check out the main part of the business (www.thelockershop.com).
It’s odd looking back on my life…I have memories, but they aren’t very vivid and every day I wake up thinking what more can I do, but I never feel like there’s enough time in the day to accomplish the things I’d like to. But I can’t keep making excuses or holding off on the things I want to do and accomplish in life. I can’t waste time because time is one the commodity in life that we cannot buy back. Once it is gone, it is gone for good and cannot be made up.
Am I being too stubborn? Do I maybe not appreciate my life as is? I really don’t know….but it’s just become clear to me that I need to refocus and put myself on a path. Maybe it’s time that I start a “bucket list” of sorts and start accomplishing all the things I want to.
But this all comes back to my health….right now I can’t give it my all, I’m sluggish, tired, and lacking motivation. I use to sleep 3 to 4 hours a night and work the rest, I don’t necessarily need to do that again, but I need that motivation again and I hope I can find that during this project.
This really is only a small insert of my life, I’m open to sharing more if anyone wants to talk.