“The Journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step” – Lao Tzu
We’re all either on a journey, or we’ve been on a journey. Each journey is different. Some of us have had multiple journeys, and some of us are about to embark on one. Last week, my wife Eboni let you in as she shared how she’s about to go on her own personal journey to discover herself. In order to encourage her, and maybe even you in the process, allow me to share my own journey of self-discovery.
On the outside looking in, most people think I have everything together. I’ve been able to build a business, I’m married to a beautiful woman, and have an amazing daughter. Life is good and I’ve been very blessed. However, this time last year I was in one of the toughest journeys of my life. I literally didn’t know who I was either.
Let me keep it 100 with you, I’m really good at appearing like I’m ok. You probably do it too, be it at work or in your social circles. I knew how to post the right things on social media, and look the part in meetings or out and about at events. But in reality, I was living an internal battle with a lot of emotions. I had a ton of stress. I had anger. I had shame.
Did I mention I was going to keep it 100 with you?
I’ve dealt with depression before while I was in college. Like, having to go to a psychologist and being prescribed depression medicine for a short period of time. It’s not an easy thing to talk about, especially being:
- a man
- a black man (Our community tends to not address mental illness as we should, but that’s another blog for another day.)
Even then, I hadn’t dealt with some real underlying root causes. I won’t put all my business in these blog streets, but I had some abandonment issues as well as some verbal and emotional trauma. I didn’t identify all this until I decided to do my own journey of self-care with a therapist.
What we don’t always realize without the help of professionals, is that the trauma we experience as we grow up often manifests as other issues as we become adults. For me, mine showed up in how I conducted myself and coped with things.
With that, I want to encourage you if you’re reading this and feel like you need to start your own journey of self-discovery. Here are four areas you need to focus on:
- Deciding to wage the battle – This is like the pre-game warmups at a basketball or football game. You know it’s about to be game-time, and you’ve made up in your mind it’s time to fight. You’re probably realizing there’s something in your life you’re just plain ol’ tired of dealing with and you want to make a change. Just deciding to embark on this part is a huge first step in the process.
- Relinquish – This one is difficult if you happen to like control. You’ll have to relinquish it and realize that you can’t manufacture the outcome of your journey. More importantly, I strongly suggest you hand over all your worries, anxiety, and fear over to God. He’s the one that will see you through. Plus, He knows exactly what we need and don’t need. (See Matthew 11:28)
- Knowing you’re in a fight – This is the hardest part. You’ve got to open up and be transparent. Choose a counselor, a pastor, or someone qualified to listen and give sound advice. You may have things buried five or six layers deep, plus under lock and key. But it’s time to do the groundwork and reach the core of your issues head-on.
- Reflection – Believe it or not, you’re going to come out on the other side. You may lose some relationships, or some of them will look vastly different. You may still have some hurt and pain. But I guarantee you’ll have growth. Once you stretch yourself, you’ll see that you’ve reaped more by putting in the work.
Today, I feel better than ever and more confident in myself and who I really am. I wouldn’t be able to give steps without having gone through this on my own. It didn’t come without a fight. A tough, ugly, “see me after the bell rings” kind of fight.
You’re at the starting line of a race that doesn’t have a visible finish line. You can’t see your opponents, and you don’t know the distance. Here’s what you do have: A God that won’t ever leave you nor forsake you, and a coach in your corner ready to motivate you.
So lace em’ up and let’s start now.