I’ve been in the midst of what felt like a period of years where life just seemed hell bent on making me feel like I had no control over bad things happening to me. Some of you know I can be a lightning rod for random BS that many people don’t encounter even though their actions sure as hell ask for it more than mine. This led to me losing sight of a ton of the values that made me appreciate life as fully as I once did. I had been a firm believer in karma, destiny, and the idea that if you put good into the world and are just a good person, the world will send that energy back. I knew then, and more than ever now, that I am a great person, and the fact that so much shit was coming back my way while horrible human beings seemed to be reaping benefits of their shittiness from the world made me not want to be here.
Let me be very clear here because I have never appreciated when people make light of depression or suicidal thoughts or anything for attention. But guys, I really didn’t want to be here. To the point where it scared me. I am overly empathetic to a fault at times, more morally aligned than 80% of this country, on the right side of history, and most importantly to me, have ALWAYS been an active voice for what I believe, even when it may be uncomfortable or difficult. I have actively combated racism, sexism, abuses of power, and everything in between every single time I have ever encountered it. And to KNOW that and still feel like that wasn’t enough for the world to give me a break put me in the mindset of not wanting to contribute myself to this place that showed me no love. And that was before death touched my family for the first time.
When my grandfather died, I drove back home for the funeral and had no idea how to even mentally prepare for something like that. But it proved to be a pivotal point for me, because my god did I do some grown man shit. Even while I was already in a dark place before my grandfather’s passing, I drove home, acted as the strongest member of the family in order to allow everyone else to be alleviated of the pressure to feel strong, consoled my father during the passing of his own, read my sister’s speech for her because she couldn’t get the words out, and even tried to provide some comic relief like he would have wanted in my speech. I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever been so proud of myself.
I came back and the world didn’t let up just because a death hit my family. It got to a point where about a month ago, I really scared myself into change. I was driving and went to merge, and the little voice in my head that didn’t care about being here any more was louder than ever for some reason. I’ve Ubered for a minute and drive all the time. Never once have I merged without looking. But something in my head was just like “screw it.” I almost got slammed by someone speeding by, but that’s not what scared me. It was the fact that I didn’t feel the usual heart racing and palm sweating that comes when I’m terrified. I felt nothing. I felt empty. I ALMOST felt relieved. And that scared the absolute shit out of me.
That’s when I found something in myself again. I’m a MFin fighter man. Anyone who has ever seen me go in any of my legendary confrontations, from telling off horrible middle & high school teachers, racist cops, and anyone who has tried to test me, knows I have never allowed anyone to get the best of me. I started to view life as just another dick who thinks they’re gonna win this confrontation. And that has been one of the best things I have ever done mentally.
Another massive step I took towards combating my mental health issues is finally coming to terms with, and actively working on, my anxiety. I now know for absolute certain that I have had major anxiety issues for my whole life. I didn’t fully accept this until I recently started voicing some of the ways my anxiety attacks me and realized that everyone’s brains did not function this way as I once thought. I legitimately thought everyone just woke up every day and had to combat an inner voice that constantly creates hypothetical scenarios that result in the death of themselves or people they love and that everyone had a borderline panic attack when they got phone calls from family sometimes only because they had a feeling there was bad news. I thought everyone was unable to get out of their own heads in public spaces to the point they were paralyzed from being their full selves because they were viewing themselves from the eyes of everyone else there and were scared of the judgement that could come from the tiniest thing, down to thinking about how I looked when I took every single step. I now understand that I have been the main cause of my own stress for as long as I can remember. Knowing this is powerful, and I am so excited to move forward with this knowledge and learn more about how I work so that I can continue to improve.
My realization about my anxiety was not all bad though. As I reflected on the aspects of my life that I now see were inevitably impacted in major ways along the way, I am actual thankful in some ways that I was born this way. I think when my parents used to ask me why I wanted to go to an event or someone’s house or anything when I was a kid and I would respond along the lines of “because what if I die and regret that I didn’t,” they assumed I was just being a dramatic kid. But that was anxiety talking. For as long as I can remember, I have lived my life trying to swallow up as much experience, emotion, and fun as possible at the expense of other worldly things because I always view things from the perspective of what I may regret on my deathbed. I know that sounds super extreme to some people, and it even feels kind of wild for me to type out. I’m 26 years old, and I don’t think that many healthy people my age necessarily have ever once thought about what they may regret if they died soon because we have so many years ahead of us, right? But as I reflect on the amount of incredible experiences I have gone out of my way to ensure I had, I am happier than ever to have had a lifelong desire to squeeze every ounce out of my time on this planet. And part of that credit belongs to my anxiety in a strange way.
This leads me to my biggest realization, which I hope you can take something away from to help you in your own life. The realization has to do with life itself and the way this crazy world we live in works. I have no doubt that a huge part of my depression and anxiety were triggered by the madness I saw not only in my own world, but in everyone else’s. Being an empath is hard for some people to understand. Again, I once assumed everyone possessed my extreme level of empathy, which can be overwhelming at times. All the news stories I would see, the videos of police murdering unarmed black men, the news headlines after mass shootings, and just the general horror that exists in this world cut me differently than they do most. I couldn’t stop putting myself in those shoes and wondering what must have been going through people’s minds at those times. I replayed it over and over and beat myself up with the question of how this world could allow for such tragedy, as though the burden to answer such a loaded question solely rested on my shoulders. I thought, and still think every single day, about Mr Horyn, and Colan, and John, and tried to find a way to rationalize destiny as a universal truth when people I knew, and people I didn’t, died so young for no reason and at no fault of their own. Somewhere in my hours of internal debate on the ways of the world, I found an answer that I am ready to move forward with.
It is not THE answer. There IS no “THE answer.” And that itself is the answer. There is nothing guaranteed in this life, not even life itself. Sometimes people don’t wake up the next morning. Sometimes people get in their cars thinking they will be right back home and never make it there. It may sound like a dramatic and pessimistic way to view things, but it is reality. Some people have had to realize this more directly than others and for some this is an uncomfortable truth. It is why our society finds coping mechanisms such as religion to explain why bad things happen to good people. In the end, there IS no answer. Life is unpredictable, and sometimes unfair, and will provide you with WAY more questions than answers. But THAT’S where the beauty lies, and THAT’S where I have found comfort in calamity. Because yes, bad things will happen to good people and in general. That’s part of the randomness. And yes, that means some people will go before they deserve to. But if we can accept that for what it is and move on, there is unexplainable beauty behind the curtain. Yes, my favorite teacher and 2 of my peers died young and it is sad as hell and I wish every day that they had more time. But the fact people who have been gone for years still have such an impact on me and thousands of others? I dare you to not find the beauty in that. To not find the fact that some kind of unexplainable energy exists between human beings that transcends even death. That is absolutely incredible, and beautiful, and moving, and motivating, and more than anything it is a reason. A reason to be here, a reason to keep going, a reason to appreciate every single thing going on in my life right now and a reason for you to do the same.
Human nature drives us to fear feelings that are seen as negative such as loss and hurt, but what I have found in my journey to feeling nothing at some points is that feeling in general is the most human thing we can do. Part of the journey on the narratives we are all living inevitably involves all of those feelings, and part of what makes life absolutely incredible is our ability as people to feel them as deeply as we do. I am now appreciative of feeling in general, whether it is good or bad, because it can be used as a driving force in appreciating the good. Whether that means being able to look around at the amazing people you may have in your life right now or appreciating where you are at knowing that the random hand you were dealt led you here, or whether that means being able to rationalize loss by feeling blessed to have been able to connect with another human being at such a deep level, I think there is something to this mindset.
I sit here now feeling much wiser than 26. Many people don’t think like this until they are forced to by their own circumstances, but I feel like my constant internal search for answers has finally led me to some kind of breathrough. And while many people have helped me more than I can describe in this journey, there is something else entirely that is a little more on topic for this website that I owe it all to more than anything; hip hop. Hip hop has been there for me every day for the last 19 years, and I have asked it to get me through an unfair amount of pain. And despite the fact that it owes me absolutely nothing and that I took much more than I gave in the relationship, it came through for me every single time. Some people go to church to find answers. I go to concerts. And I have never once left without exactly what I needed to carry on in my life. As crazy as it sounds, when my mind did slip into thinking about not being in this world any more, one of the major reasons I knew I needed to stay was the idea of missing out on albums from my favorite artists that aren’t out yet and shows that haven’t been announced was something I just could not accept. I don’t think there is any way to properly thank or explain to any of these artists exactly how much they mean to me, but I am so excited that I am now in a position to contribute to and help progress the culture that saved me and plan on working hard to make sure 2019 is the year I kick that door down.
If you read this whole thing, thank you. I hope you find something to apply to your own life somewhere in all of that. I know this piece is random, all over the place, happy, sad, frantic, and more. But that is life. And appreciating the good while learning to understand the bad is part of this crazy shared experience that we are all a part of.