We live in a split-personality society.
A world divided between the endless excitement of our Instagram highlight reels and the not-so-talked-about real life anxiety, isolation, and shame we sometimes feel.
After being mostly ghostly on the internet last year, I wanted to reconnect with the Sensophy community by writing a 2018 recap. But instead of writing about my insta-fabulous moments, I decided to write about my “human moments” – the stuff that challenged me most.
I’m hoping that by normalizing these experiences, I’ll help reduce some of the insecurity or shame you may be secretly feeling about your own challenges.
So yeah, I love my life. But this post isn’t about that.
This is the anti-highlight reel. This is the real fucking human reel.
#1. Let’s start with the heartbreak.
To kick things off, I need to take you back to the end of 2017, when my 4 year relationship came to an end… and it felt like my world might end too.
Walking away from that relationship was the hardest decision of my life. I had been tormenting myself for months, going back and forth, trying to make sense of the inner warfare between my mind, heart, and gut.
Was it my childhood trauma motivating me to end it? Was I acting spoiled by walking away from something so good? What if I got hit by a car the next day and could never walk again? Would I regret my decision to leave?
You’ve gotta understand, my ex is amazing. And I never fell out of love with her. Nor was something “wrong” with our relationship. IMHO, it was dope AF.
So why would I decide to blow up my entire life? Why would I intentionally break my own heart and the heart of this person I love so much? Shit didn’t make logical sense. But as much as I didn’t wanna hear it, there was a deeper inner whisper saying it was time to part ways. FUCK.
#2. I learned grief happens in waves.
During my breakup, I made a commitment to keep my heart open and honor my sadness instead of repressing it. My theory was “if I don’t feel it, I won’t heal it” and I’d carry that emotional baggage into my future relationships.
So despite feeling like I was disappointing my favorite gangsta rappers, I shed tears. And lots of em. In hipster coffee-shops, riding the NYC subways, walking down Brooklyn sidewalks, all over.
And at some point, the sadness just kinda dried up. Damn I was glad to have that grieving behind me! But one day, that shit jumped right back in front of me like, “Whadddddup, yo?! ‘member me?!”
Apparently, grief happens in waves. And those waves of sadness continued throughout the year.
#3. I struggled with hair-loss and shaved my entire dome-piece. Fucking, BALD, yo.
Coming out of a 4 year relationship was like aging 4 years overnight. In the comfortable bubble of my relationship, I wasn’t paying attention to the ways my body was changing. But once I got out, I noticed my hairline was pushed back and the crown of my head was thinning. I thought aging was something that happened when you were like 100. Apparently not.
Being proactive, I reached out to a health wizard mentor of mine, Pilar Gerasimo, and asked what I could do. Her answer was, “google images of sexy bald men and embrace the look.” FUCK ME. Not what I wanted to hear. (Podcast on that convo about aging here.)
I know the power in facing your fears, so I decided to shave my entire head during my trip to Burning Man. That trip turned out to be less of a vacation and more of a panic attack. My boy buzzed my hair in the RV, and I IMMEDIATELY regretted my decision. I spent the next 48 hours looking for ways to back out of shaving the final 10% off with the straight-razor.
But I stuck with the plan and nipped the rest. As the trip went on, I found the inner confidence to feel just as good without my hair as I did with it. And, to keep it 💯 with you, I’m clear, I like my hair! And I’m still experimenting with non-toxic ways to preserve it. (Podcast on the shaving my head panic attack here.)
#4. My libido felt way different.
Last year I faced some challenges sexually that I rarely have before, specifically with “my guy” being less reliable. I’m not sure how much of this had to do with aging, or residue from a broken heart, or watching porn nearly nightly for 15 years. But for the first time in a long time, I felt anxiety around my “performance” in the bedroom.
It was strange AF. And it didn’t feel like “me” at all.
Imagine looking in the mirror and seeing a purple person. You’d be like, “WTF is that??! That’s not me!! That motherfucker is purple. I know I’m not purple!” That’s how I felt with this performance anxiety. Shit was confusing and humbling.
I embraced my humility and did a bunch of experimenting with how to reconfigure my behaviors to get my groove back. Thankfully, I don’t look so purple anymore.
#5. I stopped watching porn, 100%.
Early last year I was in a warrior-mode, feeling like I could rip down lampposts. And during the launch of Sensophy’s Unleashed Growth Accelerator, I made a very public commitment to actualize my potential.
So between my libido being finicky and my beastly commitment to self-actualize, I got clear that watching porn wasn’t helping. I made a commitment to not watch porn for the rest of the decade. Done. (Here’s a vulnerable post I wrote about not watching porn anymore.)
#6. My mind played tricks on me & OCD kicked in.
After my heartbreak tears dried, I went on a honeymoon with myself. I traveled thru the exotic lands of Morocco, the frozen lands of Ukraine & Russia, and the “I can’t think of a good word to describe Amsterdam” lands of Amsterdam – all while doing introspective journaling and mapping out what I wanted my new future to look like.
I got home ready to conquer. But shortly after arriving, the clarity I gained from my trip was washed away with a titlewave of anxiety.
Why? I’m not sure. Maybe it was from coming home to an empty home. Mixed with the pressure to launch my new project. Mixed with financial uncertainty. But whatever the reason was, I caught a bad case of OCD and started questioning my sexuality again.
Earlier in life, I struggled with something called HOCD. Basically, it’s a form of anxiety and OCD that manifests as the obsessive questioning of your sexuality. It’s been years since that’s come up for me, but for about 2 weeks, it felt as real as ever.
Shit was humbling. And gave me such a deep compassion for people in suffering – and how hard that is – especially without the tools to navigate it. (Here’s an older vulnerable post about my fear of being gay.)
#7. I felt white man guilt.
Between the #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo movements, 2018 was an incredible year for social causes. Both movements are doing courageous and important work in helping to heal humanity’s wounds. And I love that.
When people are processing pain, it’s common for that pain to turn into anger, and sometimes, that anger turns into the shaming of other people. As a white man, at times it felt like I was the enemy by default and if I said anything in those conversations other than “I’m sorry”, I was going to get attacked. So I kinda disconnected.
Instead, I doubled down on my commitment to treat every person with empathy. But the guilt was still there… Especially since hip-hop was basically my religion growing up. And I wanted to give back to a culture that gave so much to me. (I wrote a FB post a while back on not knowing what to say about police brutality.)
#8. I felt humiliated talking to a stunning woman.
This is a long one. But it was one of my hardest moments. So I wanted to do it justice…
After some lukewarm swiping on Bumble, I hesitantly confessed to my coach: “I wanna date women I find super hot.” I felt guilty and superficial saying it – but it was true. I encourage my clients to be honest AF with me, so I did the same with my coach. We dove in!
My coach pointed out that there’s no limits to how hot of a woman I can be with, as long as I’m willing to keep developing myself. She helped me see that what I do for work is to help develop people’s potential. And that one of the hottest traits a man can have is the ability to help his partner keep growing. This idea felt game-changing, liberating, and intimidating. I loved it.
A week later, I was at my local coffee shop and spotted a woman I found stunning. I worked up the courage to go over and talk to her. Yo. My heart was pounding. My body was shaking. And as we spoke, I kept fighting the urge to end the convo and walk away.
“Keep breathing”, I told myself. Because I was into her. AND, I kept finding out we shared similar values, passions, and even missions. AMAZING! But, about 20 minutes into the convo, I said something that blew up in my face. Something I’ll probably never forget…
I said, “I think I have something to teach you.”
I swear… In my mind, it felt innocent, playful, and loving. But she got SUPER offended. I tried to explain what I meant, but it was only making things worse. So I put my hand on my heart, looked her in the eyes and apologized – but she didn’t wanna hear it. DAMN! I couldn’t believe this was happening. So I apologized again – digging deeper into the depths of my sincerity – but it didn’t matter. She seemed to be triggered and this didn’t seem to be helping.
Wanting to respect her space, emotionally and physically, I said I was gonna leave. And as I started to get my bag, she said these words that still sting… “please walk away from me now.”
Hearing a woman say those words to me, AGHHHHHK. YUCK. I felt like some kinda predator or something. It’s the exact opposite of what I strive to bring to this world. I hated that I made her feel that way.
That was a hard one. Because I really did feel aligned with this woman. AND I had just gotten coached on working thru feeling insecure talking to women I find super attractive. AND it was at the coffee shop I go to every morning. AND she seemed to be friends with all the staff. AND I saw her pointing me out to them afterwards.
It felt humiliating. And although I got pretty triggered after, I did feel equipped to process the situation – emotionally and mentally. I can see why she got offended. And how I could have leaned into my vulnerability and just been honest about being nervous because I thought she was so great. Lesson learned.
#9. I struggled with my dad’s pain.
My dad’s 78. And in the last few years, he’s battled extreme pain and some physical deterioration. Maybe it’s an old-school, Russian, immigrant mentality – but on some level, it seems like he’s proud of his high tolerance for suffering.
It’s hard as hell to see someone you love in pain. But trying to help is a slippery slope because people don’t wanna be changed, they wanna be loved. Since we’re creatures of empathy, and WE don’t wanna feel their pain, we often disconnect emotionally.
One of my life’s lessons has been around learning to love people the way THEY wanna be loved, instead of the way you wanna love them. Last year I walked a thin line between trying to love my dad the way he wanted to be loved (joining him for doctors appointments and dinners) and encouraging him to take actions that I thought would reduce his suffering.
Ironically, my life’s work is to help people live a fulfilling life. Yet in this relationship that matters so much to me, it often feels like my superpowers are powerless.
#10. I refunded a stack of money.
Last year I ran a mastermind program with some BAMFs. And going into 2019, I held a vision of running another group just like it. I had already collected about $26,000 worth of signups.
But during my recent trip to South America, I did an inventory of how I wanted to spend my time in 2019. I thought about how I could be of greatest service to the world – and I realized in order to run the mastermind program in a way I’d be proud of, it would take away my energy from the new business I’m creating. Then I asked myself a confronting question…
“If fear wasn’t involved here, what decision would I make?”
The thing is, I was counting on that project’s money to help pay some bills. But I was honest with myself and decided to cancel the program and refund the money.
While it might sound like my year sucked, it was actually incredible…
I got brought to tears from my clients’ gratitude, created an in-depth leadership process, deepened amazing friendships, doubled my savings account, did lots of enjoyable dating, traveled to new countries, got clarity on an invigorating future for Sensophy, AND, I started a new company with two of my favorite people!
But this post wasn’t about my highlight reel, it was about being a real human. We all feel insecure, alone, and anxious at times. And I’m committed to creating a world where we don’t feel flawed for feeling challenged.
I wanna live in a world that’s human AF, where our shame is dissolved by people’s empathy. Where it’s safe to get things wrong without getting attacked. Where we have the tools to process our pain instead of passing it onto others.
Creating that world is up to us. And I hope you’ll join me in doing so in 2019 and beyond.
One deep breath at a time.
Big love from Brooklyn,
PS: If you’d like to share a human moment of yours below, I’ll be reading the comments.
PPS: If you think this post could help someone you know, please pass it along to them!