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Chasing the Dream by Billy Catoggio

August 12, 2015

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If there is one thing I tell young people, it is to first find your passion and then make that your profession. Unfortunately they really don’t teach you this in school. If someone can meld their passion into their life’s work they have achieved the holy grail of happiness and well-being. I know this to be true because I have experienced both sides of this story. I had been in a sales position that was lucrative, but soulless and now I am in hot pursuit of becoming an industry leader in the world of scuba diving. I am the President and Founder of ScubaNation, the only TV show dedicated to the sport of recreational scuba diving. We made something from nothing, just a passion and a drive, and now we are closing out our 4th season on TV. We are a multi-platform media company with not only TV holdings, but radio, and social media as well.

 

This story starts back when I was 6 years old.

As a kid growing up in Boston, my Dad took me whale watching off the coast of New England. Humpback Whales are 45 feet long and weigh 60 tons, and they were the subjects we were after on this trip. We travelled well offshore to find these goliaths of the sea. It’s almost like stalking a predator, or like a long road trip to a far away destination. You simply don’t get on a boat and see whales; it’s an adventure! The air was cold, damp, and a heavy fog set in as we traversed the waves to Stellwagan Bank, the summer home for Humpback Whales. Here is where they feed and grow strong before they head south to Caribbean waters for the winter months. Anticipation to see the whales builds, but like fishing, patience is in order. I went out with high emotions and had my rain jacket on and binoculars in my hand the whole time. I wanted this! I needed this! Most people stayed inside the whale watching vessel but my Dad and I sat out on the bow of the ship, in the nasty elements, for that rare chance to see an animal that puts your significance in this universe in question.

 

And when the moment finally happened, a behemoth of the sea rose out of the ocean in a spectacular breach, then came crashing back to the sea creating massive waves. It left me speechless. My eyes popped out of my head, my jaw hit the ground. And I thought to myself, nothing will ever be the same, and that is a good thing. I was just 6 years old.

 

Fast forward to 1995 and fresh out of college from Florida State University, and real life is breathing down my neck.

I was in love, engaged to be married, and looking for work with a recruiter who was my fraternity brother. I was moving to Miami with a degree in Marine Biology, but realized I wanted money, and to start a family. I wasn’t sure how to make money and be what I was truly here to be. I was always pre-determined to film the underwater world and tell stories, like my hero, Jacques Cousteau. But life was going to put that on hold…for now.

 

So I did what every other working stiff does. I got a job I hated and sold payroll services to small businesses. I have a pretty good personality, so selling came naturally. I was good at it, made several President’s Club trips and was being compensated nicely. You would think that would be enough, but it wasn’t. I was miserable. I was dying inside. I self-medicated and was pretty hell-bent on self-destruction. Life as salesmen felt like a bottomless pit to hell. And it was a one-way ticket.

 

Life is miraculous and beautiful, and life can be defined by exact moments.

Like the exact moment I said, “That’s it. I’m going for it.” Sometimes that’s all it takes, the simple act of saying “screw it,” life is too short for regret, for not having the courage, or not trying for the fear of failing, sometimes you just have to commit to something. So with the blessing of my beautiful wife, the most important person in my life, I decided to go for it. I gave up the corporate world, gave up on 9-to-5 and jumped off the cliff to pursue my dream to tell the tales of the ocean like my hero did so long ago.

It’s funny…the minute you jump off that cliff…the minute you make a decision to pursue a new path in life, clues present themselves, doors open and opportunities arise. These little indicators represent signals that you are on the right path and that the decision of a lifetime that you made in an instant was SPOT ON, and nothing will hold you back!

 

Pursuing your passion is epic and glorious. It is messy and difficult too, but damn it, it’s your beautiful mess and you have complete control on making it right and making it work. Dreams are endless, boundless and they can be as big as your willingness to make them big.  Did I ever think I would win an Emmy? Probably not. But when you mix passion with your life’s work, these things kind of just happen. So the night we won an Emmy was just another indicator that I was on the right path and making that decision to “go for it” was the right one.

 

So, no matter where you are in your life, I’d ask you to consider if you are living your passion, or beginning to walk toward it. Each moment we have is precious, and each moment offers us the opportunity to live more deeply in our passion and live a life with an abundance of well-being.

 

Take your epic journey. It just takes one bold step.

 

Quotes that I live by

“INSPIRATION MOVES ME BRIGHTLY” –Jerry Garcia

 

“When one man, for whatever reason, has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself.” –Jacques Cousteau

 


Billy Catoggio — Summer of Wellbeing

President and Founder of ScubaNation

Billy C. is the President, Founder, and Co-Host of ScubaNation, the only TV Show dedicated to the sport of recreational scuba diving. It airs on Fox’s Sun Sports every April to October and is currently in its 4th season. ScubaNation is fast-pace, fun and covers all things scuba. Together with ScubaNation Radio and social media channels, ScubaNation has become the voice for scuba divers worldwide.

Billy C. is Boston born and raised and has loved the ocean since childhood. He was inspired by Jacques Cousteau’s “Silent World” television program and decided at an early age that he too wanted to be an underwater explorer. Billy C. attended Florida State University to study Marine Biology and has earned an Emmy Award for his underwater cinematography. His goal is to bring the scuba diving , marine inhabitants, and the ocean’s unique stories to the masses so they can see the beauty and need for conservation of our underwater world.
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