That Awkward Moment You Realize How Embarrassed You are By Who You Were 10 Years Ago

I’ll start by pointing out the obvious. This is 2022. Nobody reads blogs anymore. I know that.

And that very fact likely reveals how much time has passed between the version of myself I do not wish to remind anyone of (though ironically, that’s what I am doing here), and the now 40 year-old version of myself who is finally beginning to process the shame, fear, and anger that I didn’t realize has been here this whole time.

Would it be silly for me to apologize to everyone who knew me during the most challenging and darkest time of my life? I can if you need me to.

Because trust me- I don’t like that guy from a decade ago!

He came across as very self-righteous, eager to prove others wrong, and way too caught up in conspiracy theories.

At the time, I was Parents magazine’s official Daddy Blogger; a side hustle that lasted a solid 4 years. During that time, the plant-based trend was really picking up. So naturally, I found myself exploiting the fact I was a hard core vegan, in my blog posts. Sure, it helped my views. But my vegan lifestyle also served as an avatar to reveal my anger and confusion.

If it wasn’t me being a vegan, it would have been something else. My subconscious would have found an alter-ego to demonstrate what is completely obvious to me now:

I was not at peace. I was reaching.

I was reaching for the idea that I could be in control of… something.

Because during that time, I felt like my life was out of control.

My wife and I had moved from Nashville (where we had decent jobs) with our newborn son, back to my hometown in Alabama. Keep in mind, this was shortly following the Financial Crisis of 2008. And not knowing better, we moved there without securing jobs first.

Unlike now, where people my age are migrating back to their hometowns because so many of us are working remotely anyway, it proved impossible back then to find a decent job where I could support my wife and newborn son.

So after nine stormy months, we had to swallow what was left of our pride and ask for our old jobs back.

We moved to Nashville again, but not before our car broke down on the way up.

And of course, we had been living off our savings the whole time we were jobless in Alabama.

That means we returned to our life in Nashville, with no savings- and for me personally, very little dignity. Starting over.

I couldn’t have known it at the time, but I was very angry and was living in much fear; in addition to the shame I felt, for years following our move back to Nashville.

It was about four years ago that I began to wake up from the fog. The company I had been working for all those years shut down their branch where I worked, which forced me to find a new job.

That new job as a recruiter, where I still work today, would prove to be the best place I have ever worked. I became part of a team for the first time. I polished my leadership skills. I felt good about my life again, finally.

Subconsciously, I was beginning to find my inner peace again.

The biggest epiphany began to present itself a just few months ago, after I became inspired to earn my certification as an Enneagram coach.

I learned that I am an Enneagram 7. I am the optimist and the extrovert, out of the 9 Enneagram personalities.

The downside is, my specific fear as an Enneagram 7 is that my time is being wasted, so I constantly feel I have to keep myself busy all the time- and I have to feel like I’m being productive.

Otherwise, the anxiety kicks in. And I realized that the unsuccessful move to Alabama changed my Enneagram wing of a practical 6, to an aggressive and often angry 8.

I will say- it means I’m really good at my job: Convincing people what to do all day; thanks to my aggressive, energetic edge.

But outside of the character I play at work, it can be challenging for me to feel relaxed. Because I have this angry, anxious energy running through my veins.

For me, this is a year of focusing on mental health. I feel like a lot of people have been saying the same thing, here recently.

As an Enneagram 7, my “growth personality” is an Enneagram 5. In other words, the best version of myself is when I am a more analytical and balanced introvert.

Contrary to that is who I was a decade ago, the self-righteous vegan. That was me in my “stress personality”, which is an Enneagram 1, the Perfectionist. That was the worst version of me, on public display.

Thanks to my new insight, I am able to see progress begin.

As recent as… yesterday, actually… I actually began crying tears of sadness, anger, and shame; as I came to terms with the emotions I repressed for over a decade, from the move to Alabama not working out.

This past weekend, I joined what I am ultimately going to call a “Men’s Support Group”; some of us are specifically there to sort out our repressed anger issues.

And while I haven’t been a vegan for years now, I have been secretly going to the gym 6 days a week each morning before work, to help my mental focus before any other challenges can present themselves.

I’m focused on my mental health, my physical health, and my spiritual health.

My anger, my shame, and my fear from a decade ago are still inside of me; yes.

But I am learning how to unpack all of that. How to manage it. And slowly, to release it and redirect it.

And you guessed it: My typing these thousand words here now is part of the therapy for me.

You’re witnessing the beginning of the release.

 

As One of the Few Known Men on Earth Under Age 40 Who Has Never Seen Porn, I Am Currently Mentoring Younger Men Who Are Addicted to It; From a Psychological Perspective; Not a Religious or a Moral Viewpoint, Nor in a Judgmental Way

Back in 2014, researchers in Canada were attempting to compare the behavior of men who watch pornography regularly, with men who have never seen pornography at all. However, they were unable to find one man who had never watched pornography.

Too bad they didn’t know I existed, because I would have been perfect for their study.

I understood from the very beginning, as a preteen, that viewing such unrealistic images and ideas of women would ultimately psychologically rewire my brain, potentially like the equivalent of a computer virus.

To me, it was always beyond religion and morality. It was always about psychology instead.

It’s true, I’ve never looked at, nor watched, pornographic material. I’ve had multiple opportunities, when no one else was around, but I can’t really say it was ever a true temptation to me.

I have always been fundamentally opposed to the idea.

On my main YouTube channel which officially crossed the 4,000 subscriber mark last month, I serve as a mentor and life coach, helping younger, insecure balding men realize that their identity and how attractive they are to women actually has a lot more to do with confidence, kindness, and skill sets.

Recently, I discovered a subtle trend in which my subscribers were openly talking in the comments section, about looking at and watching pornography. Then I made the connection:

Why is it that some guys go bald young and it doesn’t seem to affect their confidence at all (and therefore they don’t watch my channel), yet others barely show any signs of hair loss but they freak out about the possibility of going bald on a daily basis?

The answer: Most of my subscribers are in their teens and twenties, meaning that they’ve grown up with unlimited access to pornography online, during those crucial years of developing their sense of identity and building confidence in who they are. (The Internet went mainstream in 1997, before most of these guys were even born.)

Compare that to me, a guy who has never looked at or watched pornography.

It makes sense now why my YouTube channel “about hair loss” is so popular: It’s really a YouTube channel that helps young men who may be experiencing hair loss, which is quite common, who are also addicted to or at least regularly exposed to pornography, overcome their insecurity issues; taught from a 37 year-old man who was never psychologically corrupted in the way they have been.

So I began making some videos addressing, and testing, this pattern I was seeing.

Those videos became some of my most popular and received more thumbs up than my other videos.

Some of my viewers confirmed I was correct: That regularly looking at and watching pornography has crushed their ability to be confident in themselves and only reinforces their insecurities about the concept they are experiencing hair loss; or at least, think they are.

To test my theory, I made a video in which I predicted in the title, that 99% of my subscribers were addicted to pornography. I stated in the video that if I were wrong, that out of my 4,000 subscribers, more than 40 would leave a comment proclaiming they do not consume pornography either.

Instead, only 2 people left a comment saying that. So yeah, over 99%.

I then theorized that many of my viewers were drawn to pornography due to some unnamed psychological trauma they experienced as a child (like being abused, their parents divorcing, a close family member dying, etc.), and they never got the proper counsel with a psychiatrist that they needed.

So that childhood trauma was never dealt with or even acknowledged, which psychologically set a pattern in their mindset to be anxious about things they have no control over: like hair loss.

I discovered this connection after reading an article on Huff Post that found the common theme among people who suffer from anxiety or depression is that they live with unresolved psychological trauma from their childhood.

Turns out, men who were overly obsessed with hair loss fit into this category as well.

I consider myself a missionary to the mainstream.

The way I see it, I was put on this Earth to serve others. If I can help thousands of insecure, pornography-addicted young men to acknowledge that pornography is killing their confidence and sense of identity, I can hopefully lead them to a decision to be pornography-free as I am, and eventually, overcome their trigger, which is hair loss.

I say, an attractive man is a confident man- and a confident man doesn’t tolerate the use of pornography in his own life.

So when I’m not being a Family Friendly Daddy Blogger, I’m serving as the host and life coach of a PG-13 rated YouTube channel to help mentor younger men.

It’s like my alter-ego.

“Does My Teenager Have Anxiety?” (Guest Post By Noah Smith with Wellness Voyager)

Photo By: Pixabay

It is normal for your teenager to feel a little apprehensive about making a speech in class or learning a new school schedule, but sometimes these feelings cross the line into an anxiety disorder. Put simply, anxiety is “the body’s reaction to stressful, dangerous, or unfamiliar situations.” However, for some children, the anxiety they feel is debilitating, and could affect their sleep, concentration, ability to talk to others, school performance, and enjoyment of activities. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, adolescent anxiety has a lifetime prevalence of 25.1 percent in children 13 to 18 years old. What’s worse, if it’s not properly addressed and treated in childhood, anxiety could lead to other mental health issues like depression or addiction down the road. It is important that you and your child are able to differentiate normal worries from anxiety.

 

Recognize the Signs

Anxiety disorders will vary from teenager to teenager, but symptoms typically include excessive fears and worries, a feeling of inner restlessness, and a tendency to be extremely wary and vigilant. Even if there is no reason for your child to feel anxious and they are in a safe, calm environment, they may still experience continued feelings of nervousness, stress, and restlessness. Anxiety can cause physical symptoms as well, such as muscle tension and cramps, stomachaches, headaches, trembling, hyperventilation, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and sweating.

 

Anxiety Has Types

Anxiety describes the body’s reaction to a particular situation, but anxiety can be broken down into six different types of anxiety disorders: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), separation anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

GAD is categorized by excessive worry about events or activities, with the feelings being present almost constantly and floating from one situation to the next, such as fear of poor school performance or worries about what others think of them. Separation anxiety is worry about being away from the child’s parents, with fears often situated around parents not returning as promised or fear that the parent will be harmed. Although this type of disorder is most common in young children, it may be experienced by adolescents in response to stressful life events such as a divorce or deployment. If your child experiences sudden and intense periods of anxiety that come on unexpectedly, they likely have panic disorder, and may experience intense symptoms such as trouble breathing or feeling boxed in.

Fears or anxieties that result from something specific such as bugs, heights, or public speaking are referred to as phobias, and won’t affect your child unless they are directly confronted with the fear. OCD is a condition involving recurrent thoughts, impulses, or images that are hard to control. Compulsions are the behaviors the child partakes in as a means of distressing, such as hand washing or redoing an action or activity over and over again. The last category of anxiety disorder, PTSD, is the re-experiencing of a traumatic event via recollections, dreams, or associations.

 

Ways to Help

If your child is willing to talk about his or her fears and anxieties, be sure to listen carefully and be respectful of the way your child is feeling. Try to help your child trace their anxiety to a specific situation, experience, or fear in order to help reduce the anxious feelings. Keep reminding them of times when they were initially anxious, such as when they attended their first overnight camp or took their first high school exam, and help them to recall how everything worked out and their anxious feelings subsided.

It is important to recognize that sometimes outside help will be necessary. If the anxiety and fears last over six months, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) recommends seeking professional advice via a doctor or teacher, who can then suggest an adolescent psychiatrist or other professional who specializes in the treatment of adolescent anxiety disorders. Continue encouraging your child to be open with you about their feelings, while simultaneously seeking treatment to help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and the effect it has on your child’s daily life.

Anxiety is a common phenomenon that most children experience at some point in their life, but be attentive to feelings and fears that become intense and affect your child detrimentally. Keep the lines of communication open with your child, and if you notice a change in your child’s behavior, talk with them about it or seek the help of a professional.

 

-This guest post was written by Noah Smith with Wellness Voyager

Dear Jack: You’re an Independent & Confident Boy Raised by Independent & Confident Parents

6 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack: You’re an Independent & Confident Boy Raised by Independent & Confident Parents

Dear Jack,

All last week you were 3 hours away, staying at Nonna and Papa’s house in Alabama for Christmas break. When Mommy and I left you there the day after Christmas, there was no emotional, dramatic goodbye. It wasn’t really any different than when I drop you off at school each morning.

You weren’t worried. I say that’s because you’re an independent, confident boy.

I don’t believe you simply were born that way. I don’t believe that it’s simply your personality.

Instead, I take partial credit for it. And I give the rest of the credit to Mommy.

Both Mommy and I are independent and confident people. So naturally, we are going to proactively raise children who are the same.

Dear Jack: You’re an Independent & Confident Boy Raised by Independent & Confident Parents

I can’t say I was always this way. I feel like I’ve always been confident and believed in myself, but becoming independent was an evolving process for me.

When I was your age, I wouldn’t have been okay with spending the night away from my own parents; especially not 3 hours away!

In fact, the first time I remember spending the night at a grandparent’s house was when I was 8 years-old, and it was just 5 miles down the road.

I think it was actually a really good thing that I was 29 and a half when you were born. Had I only been in my early or mid-twenties, you would have turned out differently; I’m sure of it.

But because I had finally gained much of the maturity I needed by the time you were born, I was more prepared by life experience to raise you.

Therefore, you are not anxious or nervous to leave Mommy and I when we drop you off at places. I just wasn’t that way when I was your age.

I am so proud though that you are.

Love,

Daddy

Why I Am Not Rushing Out to See the New Star Wars Movie: The Force Awakens

Why I Am Not Rushing Out to See the New Star Wars Movie: The Force Awakens

It would be boring and cliché of me to illustrate how, as a child of the 80s, Stars Wars was a big part of my childhood and therefore, how I’m excited to take my own son to see the new Star Wars movie. So I won’t.

Granted, I’m going to take him to see it… at some point, after it’s been out a while.

But I will not be rushing out to be one of the first to see it.

Here’s why: I don’t trust crazy people enough.

And it appears I’m not alone in how I feel. Just yesterday, the New York Times published this article:

Mass Shootings Add Anxiety to Movie Theater Visits

Between all the mentally ill and armed Americans as well as ISIS members targeting crowded venues, I am for good reason expecting to see a headline on MSN about how there was a mass attack (whether shooting or bombing) at a movie theater where Star Wars: The Force Awakens was showing.

My hope is that by talking about it now, I can jinx that from happening. I definitely want to be wrong about this.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen enough in my lifetime to know the likelihood of an attack during the new Star Wars movie is decent.

Maybe part of it is my age and where I am in life, but I care a lot less about going to see movies than I did compared to when I was in my 20s.

I used to go to the movies every couple of weekends. But since August 2012, when there was the mass shooting during The Dark Knight, my eagerness has dwindled.

For me, it’s just common sense not to be where a big crowd is in relation to a special event with a lot of hype, like a new legendary movie coming out.

I’ll wait until maybe January to take my soon to see it.

It’s not that I live in fear of crazy people with guns or ISIS, but I can do my part to avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

My point is not “I’m never going to the movies again because mass shootings or bombings may occur.”

Instead, my point is “I’m not going to one of the biggest movie premieres of my lifetime, in an age where mentally ill and armed Americans as well as ISIS members are targeting crowded venues.”

I’ll just wait until the theaters are less packed.