After I turned 20 years of age, every year feels like it flies by faster than the last. It is hard for me to fathom that we have already reached the end of 2018. The end of the year has always been special for me as it has always marked an opportunity to hang out with family, gain a few extra pounds, and reflect on the wins and losses of the year to prepare to make the following year better. This past week I was speaking with Kryzia and noted to her that what I got out of 2018 was quite different than what I expected going into it. I was very blessed this year to achieve some major life milestones, but beyond those I learned some very important things about myself that I know, once corrected, will help me to get closer to the ideal version of myself (The Best Possible Model of Myself). For example, one aspect of my personality that has historically been severely lacking is my ability to move across the emotional intelligence spectrum. Through much introspection, I recognized that this deficiency had manifested itself in several different ways. For many years I had led myself to believe that by being completely unemotional and unattached to all but a few relationships and circumstances, that I was moving towards being a “model” individual. Additionally, I was either unable or unwilling to experience real empathy and took the perspective of “well if nobody died then just get over it and move on”.
In the context of my romantic relationship, this resulted in me essentially expressing my emotions in ways that were nonsensical. While it sounds a bit juvenile and ridiculous, I recognize that as a grown man I was incapable of labeling something as simple as “anger, happiness, disappointment etc.”. This was something that I truly struggled with because I had placed such a high value on being able to “front” as though nothing ever bothered me and that I was largely unaffected by any circumstance. The impact of this is that there were times when I would unnecessarily get passively-aggressive with Kryzia to let out my frustrations instead of being open about what I was experiencing in the moment.
This combination of things led to me coming across to certain people as being cold, disinterested, and sometimes arrogant. As Kryzia and I have gone to couples counselling, we were able to unpack that a large part of the reason for me eliciting that type of response is due to a defense mechanism I had created years ago. I learned that because I had some insecurities with respect to some situations within my extended family, I had attempted to flick the “off-switch” on my emotions to resist experiencing negative feelings in my interpersonal relationships.
While I am not completely where I should be yet in opening myself up to people, I have already started to make some positive strides and I now actively look for ways to make baby steps everyday. At the end of the day, I hope that this post will serve as encouragement to take a moment for some hard looks in the mirror to make positive change. While a new year is a nice opportunity to make a clean start, we are all privileged with the capacity to elect to make a change every morning we open our eyes. So, as Eric Thomas the Hip Hop Preacher would say: “Make the Rest of your life the best of your life!”