I’d just gotten a fresh cut at the barbershop. I put on my tailored suit, sprayed some cologne, and slipped on my designer shoes. As the moderator for the night was reading my biography I kept my head down. Surrounding guests thought it was a gesture of my humble spirit but I was the only one that knew why. I was walking on stage to be inducted in the University of South Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. I pretended like I was happy to be there. I was good at concealing my true feelings.
Everyday leading up to the ceremony led to more dread. More shame, more guilt, more of a reminder that I’m not what people think I am. I presented a false picture ever since the naive age of sixteen and for the first time in my life it was being exposed to me…… in the form of emptiness.
I was thrusted into the spotlight, riddled with attention and notoriety. I could have anything I wanted whenever I wanted it and I took advantage of it. I had the responsibility of being a “role model” which translated to me at the time, perfect. Flawless. Naturally, I felt the need to upkeep this image by hiding my vices, my weaknesses, my covert addictions that were only growing. To top it off, I wore Christianity like a badge of honor although I never practiced the faith and in the south if you play football, and you’re a christian, you’re good as gold.
“Everyone has a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individuals conscious life, the blacker and denser it is” -Carl Jung
This was around the same time I started reading Robert Greene Laws of Human Nature so shit hit me like a truck. You become skilled at hiding. You learn the acceptable behaviors within society and display your best because you think that’s what you’re supposed to be doing. Until your spirit just can’t take it anymore. Yes, on paper I was a Hall of Famer. But I wasn’t a Hall of Fame person. I was not a Hall of Fame husband. I wasn’t a Hall of Fame friend. I gave some bullshit speech. I don’t even remember what I said but what I do remember is how I felt. After the ceremony was over I just wanted to go behind Colonial life arena and throw that Hall of Fame jacket in the dumpster.
This was vital.
That night shattered my worldview into itty bitty microscopic pieces. Through all of the painful realizations I was experiencing I discovered the real definition of “success”. It had nothing to do with accomplishments, awards, trophies. No. It was all a lie. In hindsight, after accepting myself fully, what I came to understand is that it’s who you are when nobody is watching you. Who are you when the camera cuts off, behind closed doors. Success is feeling good in your own skin. Not acting like you do. Up until that day, my validation as a human being had been predicated on what happened externally. What I achieved externally. What I looked liked externally. What people thought of me….my God.
I don’t pray and meditate to look cool. I don’t roll out this yoga mat for a trend. I don’t go to nature to take pictures. I didn’t downsize from 2,000 sq ft to 660 sq ft to be commended. I didn’t simplify my life for no reason. No, I didn’t choose these things, my soul pulled me this way. Call it whatever you want; intuition, the spirit, gut, I call it God because that’s really the only explanation for what transmitted into my being that night. The emptiness and dissatisfaction I felt for what was supposed to be a celebration was confirmation that worldly success does not equate to happiness. Look within. Look within. Look within.
“Play with your own scoresheet” -Andre 3000
Drop a comment in the comment section below
Any stand out moments in your life that redirected your course? Changed your perspective? Stand out as life changing? (Painful or pleasant)
What made it so?