The Power of Redirection: My Experience With Feeling Like It’s the End To Feeling Fully Alive

"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." ~Howard Thurman

Every day, I strive to live by these words, to feel fully alive, but the reality is that it’s not always attainable. There are days filled with lows and days filled with highs—such is the constant emotional roller coaster of life. 

The moments I feel low are reminders of darker chapters of my past. There were times when thoughts of ending it all were my daily practice. My journey from there to here hasn’t been easy, but it’s one I’m greatly proud of and feel called to share.

The Weight of the World

I grew up in a small town in Indiana surrounded by cornfields—big Midwest energy. 

From a young age, I was always wrestling, both literally and figuratively. My dad was a wrestling coach. The sport brought challenges like cutting weights, and I was driven by a desire to make my dad proud and succeed.

I graduated with 170 people in high school. It was the kind of place where everyone knew everyone, and I was actually pretty shy until my junior year of high school. Wrestling was my main crew. 

With not much to do in a small town, we turned to pharmaceutical drugs and partying, which planted the seed for wanting to be the life of the party.

Transitioning to college, I joined a fraternity. In high school, drugs and alcohol were just recreational, but in college, they turned into a lifestyle. These habits intensified, leading to poor school performance and frequent fights with friends and even strangers.

As graduation approached, I felt lost. I finished my degree later than expected while watching my friends move on to their corporate jobs. I moved back under my parents' roof, clashing with my stepdad, and I took a job as a correctional officer working night shifts, which compromised my physical health and further weakened my spirits.

At this point, I felt like everything was weighing down on me. I've often described it as being chained and pulled underwater. I just wanted to give up, and the thought of ending my life became my reality for over a year, constantly mapping out how I would do it.

Turning Points

At a crossroads in my life, faced with the choice to end it all or fight to change my circumstances, I chose change. This began with prioritizing my health. 

Leaving the prison job behind, I started to get enough sleep, joined a gym, and embraced a healthier lifestyle. The shift in focus wasn't just about fitness. It was about reclaiming control of my life.

My newfound dedication to health led me out of my parents' house and into my own apartment, marking my first steps towards independence. My passion for fitness grew, and I obtained my training certification. 

Inspired by a desire for a fresh start, I made a bold move and relocated across the country to Austin, Texas on New Year's Eve 2017. New year, new state, new me.

In Austin, I initially aimed to be a trainer but ended up in sales at LA Fitness selling training packages. This role, while unexpected, challenged me in new ways and started shifting my mindset towards seeking more challenges. This was a stark contrast to my earlier days of shying away from things that challenged me.

These turning points—prioritizing my health, changing my environment, and actively seeking challenges—were critical in helping me navigate out of the darkness. They taught me the value of setting goals and following through, which rebuilt my confidence and self-respect.

Daily Practices

Moving out, changing states, and pushing myself in a new career path allowed me to start fresh, building a life aligned with my passions and values.These changes did not erase the highs and lows of life but equipped me better to handle them. Recognizing this, I've developed daily practices and strategies to maintain my equilibrium and continue my growth, regardless of life's inevitable challenges.

Here are some key routines that help me stay in the driver's seat:

  • Breathwork: I often use a technique called resonant frequency breathing—four seconds inhale, six seconds exhale. This simple exercise helps center my thoughts and calm my body, especially when combined with mobility exercises. I'll sometimes direct the breath toward my heart to help it expand with love and grace for myself and those around me.
  • Meditation: Meditation doesn’t have to involve just sitting still. It can be anything that gets you out of your head, into your body, and feeling present in the moment. Presence is powerful, and striving for it daily is key.
  • Exercise: Pushing my limits through fitness is important for me, whether it's competing or just engaging in daily movement. As a man, it’s particularly important to channel your energy constructively.
  • Expression: Keeping emotions bottled up never ends well. It's crucial to express your feelings, whether that's to a friend, family member, or therapist. Having a supportive circle who allows you to share openly without judgment is essential.
  • Novelty: Introducing small changes in your routine keeps life interesting and prevents complacency. This could be as simple as altering your route to work, trying a new workout style, or switching up your wardrobe.
  • Healthy Body: Eating well, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and ensuring regular physical activity are all crucial for maintaining balance and health.

Lessons Learned

Throughout my journey, I've learned that every experience is either a lesson, blessing, or both. Here are some insights that really stand out to me:

Community has always been a priority. From the wrestling team in high school to fraternity life in college, my search for belonging taught me the importance of connecting with the right people. In my early days, I just wanted to fit in, influenced heavily by my environment, but after doing the inner work to understand who I was and what I valued, valuing myself above all, I found the right group who supported my dreams and missions. It all started with truly understanding and appreciating who I am.

Performance pressure has been a constant battle. As a wrestler, I never felt like I lived up to my full potential, burdened by my self-imposed expectations, and this struggle persisted into college with my public speaking anxiety and followed me into adulthood. Eventually, I rewrote this narrative by competing in sports like HYROX and speaking in front of both small and large groups. I learned that being true to where you are at the moment is what really matters.

Substance use once seemed like a solution to my lack of confidence. Inspired by Lil Wayne's quote, "Confidence is a stain they can't wipe off," I grew to understand that genuine confidence is a skill developed through actions that align with one's personal values, not through temporary escapes.

Expressing myself openly has been the new norm. Keeping emotions bottled up always led to intense outbursts or hardships. By choosing to communicate my feelings regularly and tackle the tough conversations, I've found peace and clarity.

Changing my environment was necessary. Leaving behind settings that drained me and stepping into more supportive spaces helped me grow and thrive. It showed me how pivotal a nurturing environment is for personal development.

Dealing with the comparison trap has been enlightening. Especially after college, watching my peers advance while I felt stuck at home was tough. I learned that focusing on my own path, controlling what I can, and being proactive about how I show up for myself and others is far more rewarding than getting caught up in comparisons.

Maintaining a reflective practice is essential. Whether it’s through journaling or engaging in deep conversations, reflection helps us stay grounded and aware. It ensures we live more deliberately, breaking free from autopilot and making conscious choices that align with our deepest values and aspirations.

The Continuity of Growth

The strategies and insights shared here are more than personal anecdotes. They are invitations to explore the profound impact of self-awareness and proactive change.

Growth is a continuous journey that requires effort, the courage to confront our darkest moments, and the determination to use them as stepping stones. Whether it's finding your community, embracing meaningful practices, or learning to meet yourself where you are, each step forward enriches your life.

To those feeling overwhelmed by life's challenges, remember you are not alone. We all have the capacity to redirect our narratives toward greater fulfillment. This journey begins with the willingness to face our imperfections and  persistently move forward, one step at a time.

Thank you for taking the time to explore these reflections with me. May it inspire you to seek out your own path of growth and renewal, encouraging you to live fully, love deeply, and grow endlessly.

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