There’s an album that I’ve recently been listening to on repeat by a hip-hop artist that goes by NF – it’s called “Mansion” – referring to the ‘Mansion of his mind’. You can find the 12-track album on Spotify and I’d highly recommend giving it a listen at your earliest convenience. But what’s intriguing to me about this particular track-list of music is the transparency; the supernatural ability this young artist has at laying out his heart and frustrations with being a twentysomething adult trying to figure himself out.
His mind is the ‘Mansion’ he’s trapped in as the title track explains. And this line nails it on the head…
“I regret the fact that I struggled trying to find who I am – and I lied to myself, saying ‘I’m doing the best that I can.’ Shrug it off like it ain’t nothing – like it’s out of hands – and get ticked off whenever I see it affecting my plans.”
I was in the gym after another weekend of going out a few too many times. You know – the usual – hating myself for indulging and then punishing my body by working it too hard (as if that fixed the root issue). So I’m on “the bike” – and putting in a pretty solid cardio-routine for a guy like myself (10 miles) – and those lyrics hit me right in the chest.
I’m in a stage in life where I’d say I’m “becoming” – trying to reach the mountaintops of the business world.
It just feels like I’ve been in the valleys just a little too long and that I’ll never amount to much of anything.
So I avoid reality – watch another movie, go dancing with another pretty girl, meet friends up for drinks or coffee somewhere and chalk lack of success up to being young and inexperienced and perhaps that’s why no one’s truly utilizing my full potential. Because that’s a hell of a lot easier than admitting that I might be (at least part of) the problem.
I could work a little harder; spend a little less; become more joyous and content with what I’ve already been blessed with; but I think the monumental concept I need to focus myself on is just being.
I swear this has been the hardest aspect of my “becoming” – of me graduating from college and tackling “the real world”. Embracing the man that I am at the time. Whether’s that’s the charming guy on his next date, or the brokenhearted and lost soul that I was about four months ago during my first breakup. Whether I’m the go-getter in the office, or the guy that could use a little extra coaching to improve on techniques he’s become lazy with. Whether I’m the inspiring Christian, or the concerned critic. Whatever season I’m in – if I could just look whatever guy is staring me back in the mirror that day, and take responsibility for his actions, I think I’d start to see some real progress.
Part of the problem – I’m starting to believe – is that I can easily confuse self-love and avoidance or selfishness. There’s a difference between spending time on myself (recharging with friends, going on the occasional date, taking a night “off the grid” to clear my head, writing in the library like I am right now, etc.) to refresh and simply burning time (sulking in the library, endlessly dating, going out as often as possible) to avoid hard realities like a truck that needs replaced, a grown-man still living in his parents’ house, heaping piles of student-loan debt, and a heart that yearns for intimacy.
I want to love myself more, while avoiding myself less.
Part of “becoming” is learning to “be”. So here I am – the Big & Tall, joyous and confused, provider of bear hugs and witty jokes, charming and reckless, broke yet rich, Justin. And I can honestly tell you that tonight, I’m choosing to love myself and not avoid the reality that I’m a broken being becoming.