Sometimes, by chance, you see something you’re not supposed to. I sometimes wonder how random events like these irrevocably change us forever. But I don’t have to wonder for long, because I was fortunate enough to experience many moments like this already, as a boy.
I was born to average lower-middle class parents who climbed the social ladder as I grew up. I believe they did the best they could to care for their son and daughter, but perhaps they did too well, because my sister and I have lived beyond our years due to their choices. The funny thing is, you tend to learn more from the bad choices you witness.
I’ve seen the effect of macro failure so often than I’m compelled to run like hell in the opposite direction.
Seeing failure taught me urgency.
I’ve always been ambitious and driven, but that only comes from seeing many, many examples of the alternative. In other words, I’ve seen the effect of macro failure so often than I’m compelled to run like hell in the opposite direction. And I’m not just talking about forgetting the eggs at the store, or forcing your kid to play the wrong instrument.
When I was pretty young I remember my mom occasionally making romantic moves on my dad. This wasn’t anything fancy, just scooting closer on the couch while watching TV and putting her arm around him. But to my amusement at the time (and horror, now), every time she did this, my dad would get irritated and physically push her away or distance himself, effectively rejecting the move. I still don’t know why he did this — maybe it was embarrassment, meanness, or extremely toxic masculinity — all I know is that the advances stopped. What else do you do after being turned down so forcefully and publicly in the context of an intimate relationship?
What followed was a period of hell in their marriage that can only be described as apocalyptic, from the perspective of their son who didn’t know what was going on. I remember taking stock of my most treasured belongings about twice a year in anticipation of a separation. I’d pick what I could fit into a backpack and double check everything was there, then wait in silence next to it. The screaming would make its way into my room to fill the emptiness occasionally, past the melancholy twinkling of a wind chime and the rustling leaves of another long tropical afternoon that felt like it would never end.
My dad is good at many things, but he failed his wife. Who am I to judge, having never been a husband myself, but we can make some safe guesses here. I watched my mom — a warm, loving lady who loved her children more than her life and career — turn into a cold, detached voice echoing sorrow through the hallways of our home.
It’s Hard to Bury the First Woman You Ever Loved.
A story of love told through broken relationships and chicken nuggets.
My dad played a big part in this: She never got what she wanted from him, and that ruined her. It’s not solely his fault, it never is in a marriage, but he certainly had a part to play. And he played poorly.
It was a loss he either never saw coming or couldn’t prevent in time.
When you see how bad things can get, you learn to not let it slide that far.
Seeing people take losses like these they weren’t prepared for showed me that sometimes we’re forced into hard choices. But seeing enough of these losses showed me that they’re preventable if you make the hard calls yourself before it’s time.
This is about changing your state of mind, remodeling your personality. In order to roll with the punches life throws at you, you need to move. You need to adapt — and sometimes in drastic ways. This constant changing is hard, because it takes energy to grow. And yet if you don’t make the harder choice to continue becoming a better person, things will catch up to you.
And then you’ll have to make hard choices that are worse.
For instance, I have an issue with my weight, being someone who loves food. It’s so embedded in my childhood and my culture that I just have a different relationship to flavors, meals, and food-related traditions. But the problem is if I leave my love for food as it is, I become an unhealthy human being. Time has proven this to be true: When I was 14, I was five feet tall and 80 kg. (Hint: It wasn’t because I was muscular.) But eventually I got my shit together and started eating right and exercising, both tremendously difficult choices I still make on a daily basis. And these hard choices I intentionally made makes me a healthier man, so I’m less likely to have to make a choice between amputating my left foot, or both my feet when I get diabetes at 50.
Another less silly example is my relationship with my sister. We didn’t start out very tight, but four years ago that changed. A contributing factor to the fast growth of our relationship after sixteen years of coldness is the fact that I proactively try to be a better brother, human, and friend. It’s in everything I do: Exercising makes my mind healthier, so I’m alert, open, and present. Pursuing my own happiness through difficult endeavours like launching my fashion brand shows her that chasing what makes you happy is a viable option, even if it’s really hard. Being nice to people in general shows her that even though we come from a dark place, we can still do good in the world.
The Bitch that Gave Me a Soul
My sister has been a pain in the ass since forever. I never would have imagined that she would have such an influence…
In other words, things do well because I work when I don’t have to, so that I create opportunity rather than fix mistakes.
My purposefulness, energy, and motivation are really simple to explain: I’ve seen how people can break, and I want to make sure I don’t as easily. Hyping yourself up with affirmations, yoga, or a self-help book is not the key to sustainable growth. The key to ensuring that you keep growing is to constantly remind yourself what happens if you don’t.
If you like hearing unpopular opinions and provocative insights, you’ll love my daily podcast. It’s about ambition, mindset, and happiness (AKA being human). I also write about tech and fashion. And the best trick hidden up my sleeve? Fashion design.