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.

 

Nick Shell’s Self-Help Therapy Guide to 2017 New Year’s Resolutions: 7 Traits of Choosing to Be Victorious Versus Allowing the Default of Being a Victim

For most of my life, I’ve looked back on the previous year thinking, “Man, I was immature back then. I’ve learned a lot in the past year. If only I could go back and live it again knowing what I know now…”

With that being said, I feel that now at age 35, I have created a plan to keep from feeling that way. During the past year, I have formulated and applied my own self-help therapy guide consisting of 7 comparisons of someone who chooses to be victorious, as opposed to allowed the default of the victim mentality.

I believe these have everything to do with whether a person finds success living by their New Year’s Resolutions.

By consciously living by these principles on minute-by-minute basis, I feel like I am really in control of my life. I am simply more independent in my thinking; serving as my own therapist.

These 7 principles are the epitome of the concept: Focus on what you can control, not on what you cannot.

Victors versus Victims

1.       Victor: compliments others vs. Victim: criticizes others

2.       Victor: embraces change vs. Victim: fears change

3.       Victor: forgives other vs. Victim: holds grudges

4.       Victor: always learning vs. Victim: thinks they know everything

5.       Victor: accepts responsibility for their failures vs. Victim: blames others for their failures

6.       Victor: has a sense of gratitude vs. Victim: has a sense of entitlement

7.       Victor: sets goals and develops plans vs. Victim: never sets goals

After applying my “choose your mindset” theory for the past year, I felt a sense of graduation of my program when I was able to successfully upload a video on my YouTube channel entitled (can’t offend me).

In other words, I made a public social experiment out of myself by proving that if I simply made the decision that for the rest of my life, I would no longer grant anyone the authority to offend me (or “hurt my feelings”)… for any reason, by any person.

Through personal application of these concept, I fully realized that if I choose it, only I truly have the authority to grant others to offend me. But without my permission being granted, other people have no power of my emotions.

I alone control my emotions; my emotions do not control me.

What it all comes down to is something called emotional intelligence.

It only makes sense that a person who is constantly offended is allowing themselves to be the victim by default. Therefore, it only makes sense that a person who never seems to be offended is therefore making a conscious decision to be victorious.

I am so grateful for the benefits of living my life this way. I have never before felt so in control over my own life, despite the things I truly have no control over.

Feel free to ask me any questions about my “7 Traits” if you are interested in trying it out for yourself.

Nick Shell’s Self-Help Therapy Guide to 2017 New Year’s Resolutions: 7 Traits of Choosing to Be Victorious Versus Allowing the Default of Being a Victim

The Euphoric Therapy of iTunes: Listening to Music is Like Traveling Back in Time

 

The only thing I really buy for myself that is not a basic need, is music.  My CD collection now contains well over 700 albums, not including the several hundreds of songs I’ve “traded” with friends via laptop swap or the “borrowing and burning” of each other’s CD collections.   The one material thing that I actually spend money on (though I often buy at a much discounted price at Unclaimed Baggage) is music.

My stereo speakers are never silent as long as I’m the only one in the car.  There are times when I actually get tired of my own massive music library, but even then, I turn the radio to a classic rock station (“I want to know what love is, I need you to show me…”) or an alternative station where I get introduced to current bands like The Avett Brothers (“In January, we’re getting married…”).

 

Music is therapy.  It’s invisible.  But music has a way of ministering to the soul and to the emotions.  It enhances the mood and the moment.  Music makes sad times sadder and good times greater.  And when I don’t know how I feel, I listen to the abstract vagueness of ‘90’s alternative bands like Stone Temple Pilots, Live, and Foo Fighters.

Music is euphoric. It’s not tangible.  But music has a way of lifting a person’s spirits or helping them to connect and relate to the pain they are feeling at the moment.

Music is a drug. Teenagers use it to “express themselves” (or the idea of who they think they want to be) and to get in touch with their out of control emotions.  Adults use it to relax, to escape, to take a trip to an easier time in their lives.  And yes, music is an addictive drug.

I can not hear Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” and not be affected.  Or Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight”.  Or my newest obsession, the Scottish one-hit wonder from 1983, “In a Big Country” by Big Country, with its piercing lead guitar riffs reminiscent of a bagpipe:  “In a big country dreams stay with you like a lover’s voice…”

Music is engrained into our pop culture.  It freezes a year, a moment, a memory forever.  Listening to a song can be like time travel.  It stays with us.

And it’s amazing to me how music can make nonsense words and phrases acceptable by the mainstream.  Because seriously, everybody should wang chang tonight.

I can’t imagine a world where the words “I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller” meant nothing to me.