Here are my weaknesses, my baggage, my secrets… Be gentle.
This is by far the toughest thing to share about myself. I do believe, however, that there is great power in taking responsibility for your actions, accepting and facing their consequences and moving forward, having learned from your mistakes.
In 2003 and 2004, as a 17-18 year old young man, I went on a streak of thefts – stealing from cars in neighborhoods all over town. I was caught, arrested and placed on probation, and continued to steal. I was caught a second time and sentenced to time in jail and in a work release program.
In 2005, as a 19 year old man, I met a young teenage girl at a park. It was mid-day, just across from her parents house. We kissed and touched – clothes on – in the park, until her parents called her inside. Because of our age difference, this situation was immoral, inappropriate and illegal. I admitted to and was charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor and have been listed as a sexual offender for nearly my entire adult life.
I completed the sentence for these charges, finally, after 8 years being a part of the criminal justice system – in January of 2011. I was 24 years old. I started school at the local school – Colorado Mesa University in January of 2012, working toward a degree in computer science.
In April of 2014 I helped a friend get a bag of psychedelic mushrooms. He was working with the Mesa County Drug Task Force, and our interaction was recorded. I was arrested, suspended from university and sentenced to 4 years in prison. I was granted parole after 18 months, and spent just over a year on parole – I was terminated from parole 11 months early.
After several appeals I was readmitted to CMU to finish my bachelor’s degree in computer science, and graduated in May of 2019.
Views on Substance
If you have read my criminal history, you know that I have experience with psychedelic drug use. I am fortunate to have never suffered from an addiction to any drug, and I recognize that many people struggle with this.
The research behind psychedelic drug therapy is compelling. Psilocybin (magic mushrooms) has been granted breakthrough therapy status by the FDA for treatment-resistant depression; meaning that the drug is on the fast-track to becoming an approved therapy because of it’s amazing efficacy. Randomized controlled trials show that psilocybin (and other drugs) are far more effective than the current leading pharmaceutical solutions. The best part? Psylicybin shows lasting results after a single therapy session. That’s right, no more endless stream of pill bottles and side-effects.
Depression isn’t the only diagnosis this class of drugs is helping to cure, and psilocybin isn’t the only drug that’s providing relief. PTSD, anxiety associated with terminal illness, addiction treatment and even smoking cessation are all treatments being explored with this class of substances, which include LSD, MDMA, psilocybin and DMT. Early results indicate that the efficacy of these treatments far exceed results of standard pharmaceuticals.
For more information, you should read Michael Pollan’s (He is of Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food fame) newest book: How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. The book is an excellent, science-based approach to the topic.
This will be the first time I have shared my experiences of impostor syndrome. Because of the nature of my history, I often have the feeling that I do not belong in many of the communities that I am blessed to be a part of. The GSSE program at CSU, the great team at the Institute for Entrepreneurship, the community of Fort Collins, my amazing group of friends, mentors and peers. Unfortunately, my family is stuck with me, so they don’t count!
I believe that having all of my baggage out in the open will help me to feel accepted. For me it’s better to know who doesn’t want to interact with me based on my history, and those who are willing to accept me despite it. It puts everything out on the table, and allows me to build stronger friendships with those people who are interested. I won’t ever have to wonder whether or not someone will feel uncomfortable and reject my friendship once they find out one thing, or another.
Pulling Back the Curtain
Publishing this site is one of the most terrifying things I might have ever done. I have never been afraid of disclosing any part of my history, although some parts of it I am more selective about sharing for obvious reasons. I have a drive to want to be more transparent and open about where I come from, so people can understand who I am and why. I don’t want to constantly feel like I am hiding a part of me that someone may hate me for later. I am nervous, but excited about sharing this so openly. All at once it’s terrifying and liberating.