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Wasted Years

“And there’s so much time to make up everywhere you turn, Time we have wasted on the way, So much water moving underneath the bridge, Let the water come and carry us away” Graham Nash

From time to time I get nightmares about engineering school. In particular, I focus on the year that I wasted partying, but was it really a waste of time? 

beer photoWhen I went away to engineering school I was very immature in a lot of ways especially emotionally. I was unpopular in high school and I was determined that that college experience wouldn’t be the same way. Engineering school attracted a good number of students who weren’t that well off socially and I found myself ahead of the curve. Also, my roommate was perhaps the most popular person on campus.

My first semester I did very well academically getting all A’s with one B in humanities. At the end of the semester, I was far from satisfied. Despite my achievement, my life was still hollow and empty. But I had learned how to manage my time efficiently. I learned how to study. My second semester I was heavily distracted by pledging my fraternity. In all honesty, I didn’t care about my grades. My grade point average was a little over a B. But I learned many valuable lessons in pledging, lessons that would enhance my character.

In the first semester of my sophomore year, I was rush chairman for my fraternity. We were very successful in getting more pledges than ever before. My grades plummeted. Still, I learned how to party. Not only did I get past being an introvert but I became very outgoing. This skill would become very important in my life as I did evangelistic work. Once rush was over I withdrew into a reflective period of time. The next semester I was deep into drugs and alcohol. But halfway through I stopped. I had been greatly influenced by reading the Bible between my freshman and sophomore years. I wasn’t a Christian yet but I was headed in that direction. I was happy with my new found sobriety.

It is that sophomore year that my mind registers as wasted for some reason. I am not certain why exactly. Though I passed I performed poorly academically. If I was going to continue with the engineering school, in all honesty, I should have repeated that year. Sometimes in my nightmares, I return to engineering school to finish. The truth of the matter was that I learned the most valuable lessons in those wasted years. In the second semester, I began to find my purpose in life.

My life was empty and meaningless. No matter what I tried I couldn’t find any satisfaction. I was extremely depressed and despondent.

I wonder if my fellow classmates felt the same way. I know the majority of my peers were motivated by money. In reflection, they were extremely carnal and materialistic. They had this notion that if they made a lot of money that they would find fulfillment in life. I knew this to be a lie. My dad was middle class or even upper middle class. He had a lot of money or at least he bragged that he did. Yet he was one of the most selfish, inconsiderate and cold people I had ever met. I didn’t want to follow in his footsteps, there had to be more in life.

After my sophomore year, I got baptized and became a Christian. I converted from Catholicism. In my junior year, I dropped out of college. It was my intent to go to a Christian college and study to be a minister. Instead, I wound committed to a psychiatric hospital. I am certain that if I never became a Christian I would have committed suicide somewhere along the way. Instead, I persevered and eventually overcame my mental illness, at least to a point.

I thought that my hopes of becoming a minister had been dashed with my manic depression. But along my way, God put a lot of people in my life guiding me in the direction of becoming a minister. In Christianity, every believer is a minister with a ministry. But I did assume the role of preaching, teaching and evangelizing. In fact, my eight years serving as a volunteer missionary in the inner city of Newark, New Jersey was perhaps the highlight of my life.

If you are curious about my life I have written my memoirs “More Than The Madness.” It shows me as more than somebody with mental illness but a human being unique and special in God’s sight as we all. It is also filled with some fantastic stories. My book is a great educational tool to those who aren’t familiar with mental illness and inspiration for those suffering from it. There is hope for people who suffer with mental illness, my story proves it.


Wasted Years

John Kaniecki

John Kaniecki is a full-time caregiver for his wife Sylvia. He is a published writer and works with the Church of Christ. John has lived with bipolar for over thirty years and has been hospitalized nine times, three of which were committed. John has chronicled his life story in his memoirs "More Than The Madness". Also of note is John's book of poetry "Murmurings Of A Mad Man" which are poems written about being committed in Graystone Psychiatric Hospital. John believes in the power of words to change the world for the better. His website can be seen here. His books can be seen on Amazon. You can visit his personal blog "Turn A Page Or Two" here.

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APA Reference
Kaniecki, J. (2018). Wasted Years. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 20, 2019, from


Last updated: 6 Oct 2018
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