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John Bonavia Finds a New Vision for His Life

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John Bonavia ushers me into his office, where he has been hard at work on ideas for his future Tedx talks on addiction. “I have got so many ideas just coming out of me,” he says, showing me to a seat and moving aside some textbooks. “In between studying for my psychology degree and working on this, I’ve been going 24/7 lately, but I don’t mind. It’s true what they say: when you find your passion, you’re on fire and just can’t stop working.”

It has taken John Bonavia some time to find his life’s purpose, but now that he has, he is going after it with everything that he has. “I am pursuing my degree in psychology full-time right now,” he explains. “It’s books, books, and more books! However, once I graduate, I’m going to help those who suffer from addictions to find their way out. I can’t imagine a more fulfilling life than that.”

As we talk about the plans John Bonavia has for his future, it strikes me that here is a man who is enthusiastic about people. He laughs when I mention this. “That’s true,” John Bonavia admits. “I am fascinated by them, to be honest. Everyone has got a story to tell, and I like hearing each one. We’ve all got a lot more in common than many of us realize. From listening to my peers and other people, I’ve learned over the years that we all suffer at some point in some way, and drugs are a huge issue.”

The Tedx talks John Bonavia is working on will be one way to help those who struggle with addictions to overcome them. “I am so excited about this,” John Bonavia says. “I want to use my ability to connect with people and my own life experiences to inspire those who listen to my talks to work on their addictions. I think I can do a lot of good in their lives.”

I ask John Bonavia about the club he started for those who miss the social interaction of their twenties. “That’s been a ton of fun!” he exclaims. “It’s been good for me and for the other members, really. When I was younger, I liked going to clubs and meeting up with new people. They had such great energy and were wonderful to talk to. A lot of individuals feel the same way, but then they get married and have jobs. While they’re happy in those new roles, there’s still a part of them that misses the social interaction, so this club I started solves that problem: it gives them a fun place to talk to people without feeling like sardines in a can.”

I ask John Bonavia about a wall photo of him and a group of younger children. “Those are some kids I volunteered with last year,” he explains. “Aren’t they awesome? I spent an afternoon with them, playing games and hanging out, and it was the best time. I like to do that, especially because some kids are troubled and need a mentor to look up to.”

John Bonavia says that when he works with children, they sometimes ask him about what it takes to be successful. “They are worried about their futures and aren’t sure if they’re going to make it in such a difficult world,” he relates. “I tell them my own example: that I was blinded by wealth and material possessions. Sure, it is nice to have them, but I thought that this made me successful. I tell them that I found out otherwise when I lost it all. That’s when my blinders came off: I saw that success is more about being courageous enough to go down a path that is rooted in your mistakes. That’s success, not what you can buy with your money.”

We talk for a while longer about the discouraging statistics for addictions in America, which have only grown with the stress of the pandemic and the worldwide recession. As John Bonavia and I wrap up our conversation, he offers this thought: the pandemic has revealed what can no longer be ignored. “More people than we ever realized need help with their drug dependencies,” he says, sighing. “It’s actually alarming, but I plan to do everything I can to be on the right side of that battle and to help people to find the help that they need.”

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