• the contentment coach

Nobody has it all together

#authentic relationships #facade #deeper conversations #do the work #be courageous #everyone struggles #hot mess #bounds of potential #we wear a mask #meaningful human interaction # you're not alone # we're in this together # be brave # be honest # be real

One glance at me and you might say, “ this guy has it all together.” Let’s say we met at a networking event or some other professional setting and you learn more about me,only the facts you can gather from the internet,nothing too revealing. I’m a middle class African American and went to a prestigious college. That’s a mouthful and even though you don’t mean for it to happen you smile and nod your head as if to say that you’re impressed. But if a thought bubble descended from the sky near your mug, it would read, “He knows nothing about struggling. Or I can’t relate to him because our two backgrounds are so different, they might as well read “His life is like a soulful Sunday dinner and mine is like an off-brand frozen pizza.”

On the reverse, I’m sure I miss out on great connection because my thought bubble is writing the same message of polarity. History has taught us to not judge a book by its cover, and even though we don’t do this as frequently and maliciously as we did before(debatable), we’ve created a new problem and it has prevented us from connecting to people authentically: superficiality. And this further perpetuates the facade that “everything’s okay” or “I’m good”.

So in an effort to lead by example, I will go first. If I were to meet you and we felt an initial connection and we decided it would be a good idea to continue talking over a cup of coffee or on a strenuous hike, you would learn that this guy who appears to have it all together is broken and bravely living in the present while trying to recuperate from his past.

It is true that I have descended from two loving parents. Furthermore, you can say that I grew up in a home, not just a house. I was wrapped up in a warm blanket of support from mom, dad ,sister and a close aunt.

A Cosby like family, but not nearly as affluent. If you asked the question “Tell me about your childhood?” You would know that I was bullied just about everyday for 6 years at some tiny local Christian school. This pseudo safe place would be a launching point for trauma in my life.

While growing up, I was the youngest cousin of my generation. No one really wanted to have anything to do with me, so I don’t have any fun stories to tell you about me hanging with my cousins in the summer or on weekends. And I regret to say that to this day that I don’t know them and they don’t know me.

On the other side of my family, I have an uncle that I’ve never had a relationship with after many failed attempts as an adult and as a child to get the motor to turn over.

I grew up religious and I went to church Wednesday nights, Sunday mornings and Sunday evenings. Even though my desire to be a follower of Jesus was sincere, I was presented with a mixture of sound doctrine and excrement. The latter can also be described as damaging opinions and perspectives that would stunt my social emotional development up through adulthood.

College was an awesome season of life, but the funny thing about going to college out of state is, when you come back you have to start your life all over again because everyone has gone their separate ways and your fraternity of brothas has been disassembled. It would take a good 6 years before I would feel like I had a community of support outside of my family.

I could tell you so many more details about my life as we were trekking up a mountain or drowning our digestive systems in coffee. Reading this has probably made you uncomfortable and you may have felt like I have overshared. If you were the individual that I was sharing with,however, I think you would find it refreshing knowing that your life is not the only screwed up one out there. We would have established camaraderie and solidarity in those few moments.

I tell you the same story in hopes of reaching the same conclusion. If we continue to have superficial conversation with our family, friends and strangers, we will move closer toward an individualistic society: self-absorbed, stubborn, isolating, cold, and set in its ways.

If you don’t know the struggles of others, you will feel like there is nothing about them that connects you other than the surface level data like common shows, concerts and vacations. You won’t know that the person you are conversing with is struggling with depression, or loneliness, or anxiety. You will start to resent your “friends” and family members and grow further and further apart because you don’t feel like you can be yourself. Their life seems like one to be envied and yours like a crumbling piece of cornbread.

What if this friend or family member had the courage to reveal that he or she had reached a tipping point and in order to be healthier, they needed to go on a stress leave, see a therapist or hire a life coach. But if you don’t know that, you repeat the unhealthy pattern of suppressing your own struggles and burying your awareness, furthermore, causing you to feel isolated, broken and unhappy. That’s if you’re honest.

But if folks start sharing about the work they are doing in and out of themselves to evolve, push through, grow, change, survive, triumph, get healthier, feel better then you will be challenged to do the same. You won’t be able to comfortably judge another person for seeing a therapist or hiring a life coach. After you start your own journey of honesty and recovery, you’ll experience a wave of positive energy, gratitude, joy.

You’ll have to keep reading my posts to hear about my evolution. I have days when smiling and laughing come easy and ,of course, days when I just want to sheepishly crawl into bed and hit the redo button. You’ll hear about my battles with body image, loneliness and overthinking, just to name a few. I have stories for days, so just keep reading. I don’t share any of this for a sympathetic reply from you, although I am not upset if that is how you respond. I share it so you don’t feel like you are the only one whose life is messed up. I share it to encourage healthy social bonding to move us out of our superficial relationships into more authentic ones; to challenge us to do the scary work of looking at ourselves and our wounds; our patterns and our triggers; to be better versions of ourselves.

“When you try to cool down hot emotions, what tends to happen is that you end up either repressing them or losing them altogether. Neither is desirable. Without emotion, much social interaction loses its meaning or changes for the worse. “ Julian Baggini

Nobody has it all together. You know your boss doesn’t. But did you know your pastors, role models, celebrities, mentors and those you admire don’t either? We wear a mask; we put on a show so that people don’t see who we really are: a growth-stunted hot mess with bounds of potential to be great.

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