My life changed forever on October 1st, 2013.I had just walked into my new job when I received this voicemail.“Mr. Stanland, this is Special Agent McTiernan with the FBI.
We are at your residence and have a warrant for your arrest. You will need to call us and come home immediately, or we will issue an APB with the federal marshals for your arrest.”It was, without a doubt, one of the most terrifying days of my life so far.For just under a year, I committed fraud against one of the largest tech companies in the world.In that one moment, my life was no longer my own.It belonged to the agents, the faceless people working behind the scenes, and the judge I had yet to meet.I pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and was sentenced to two years of federal prison. I watched helplessly as the life I knew grew smaller and fainter as I descended into the abyss of uncertainty.I watched as the dark cloud of shame enveloped my life and cast everything in its shadow.I watched the bottom fall out every single time I thought I had hit bottom.I watched as I walked down the darkest of paths, planning how I would take my life.And I watched what happened when I chose to step out of the burnt ashes of what was and into a new life.Stepping out of the ashes was another terrifying moment; I was leaving the known, even if it was terrible, for the unknown.But there was something incredible waiting for me when I did.There’s a gift when you hit rock bottom and come out the other side.It’s the wisdom and perspective that can only come from staring into the eyes of the worst version of yourself and despising what you see.And instead of trying to kill it, you acknowledge its existence, accept its existence, and learn to love its existence.But you