These are just my thoughts.

Become You

So, I had an ego death recently. A lot of who I am was learned, as opposed to being a personification of core values of mine that were developed over time. Obviously, I do the things I (willingly) do because I want to do them, go the places I go because I want to be there, and so on. But in a deeper, more psychological way, I can be to myself as a child is to its parents, regurgitating principles, ethics, decisions, and the like, because it’s “right.” Disclaimer: I won’t use analogies and writer jargon to string you along for some long, self-revolving, crowded essay that serves no purpose but to make me seem all-wise. Follow along while I explain.

Naturally, the next question I gathered to ask myself after this train of thought struck was, “do I think it’s right because it’s right, or because no one ever showed me how it was wrong?” Take for example, my business savvy. I can be a bit of a shark at times, which to me, and virtually every male that came before me in my bloodline, is a great asset. Dare I say, I may not possess half of the things I have, both tangible and intangible, if it were not for this skillset. But, you could make a good case that this “skillset” stems from a selfish nature, a deep need for validation, and my least favorite attribute in human nature.. the need to exhibit dominance or power in every day to day interaction. You could also make the case that Kayo, himself, the “anti-capitalist” who “capitalizes every time” is everthing he fights against, a raging capitalist that doesn’t even recognize his own hand in the system. I mean what did I even mean by that line? Why do we feel the need to capitalize on everything? I’m getting off topic now. Basically what I’m saying is I am deeply flawed. This isn’t even me scratching the surface, just a quick and trivial example of how not only are my “principles and values” at risk of being extremely unethical and otherwise illogical, but they may not even be my principles and values in the first place. A close friends of mine told me some weeks back, “it must crush your ego to find out you aren’t the person you claim to be.” Since that day I’ve unraveled up until this point, trying to make sense of it all. How could I not be who I claim to be? I literally AM me. I claim to be me, nothing and no one else. So where’s the disconnect? For just one more paragraph, please, follow along.

I depend on a lot of people close to me for things I probably shouldn’t. Top of that list, being my own self identity, self love, and self appreciation. This weekend was one of the most important weekends of my life. The people closest to me actually don’t know why, just that I keep randomly saying it. A lot was riding on the events of these last 3 or 4 days. By Friday, my anxiety was through the roof and some people near me just were not helping. I won’t get into how things were getting made worse but just trust, whoever had my voodoo doll must’ve been hating on me from afar. I started to break down by Saturday and no one noticed. Stress was at an all-time high and again, the people closest had no clue. Not only did I not receive much acknowledgments for some flawless victories on my end, but it was like the whole world banned together and said “how can we make his day even harder?” And yes, they thoroughly succeeded. And it was eating away at me. Now, time for the kicker. My ego death. I figured out why I crave validation so much, and let me tell you, it is SICKENING. The answer is in the very first paragraph (yeah, sorry, you could’ve stopped reading there). I crave validation because my ethics, my morals, my principles, my values, my day to day handling, is rooted in who I’ve learned is the “right” version of myself, as opposed to who I actually am. I don’t want to need anyone but God. In order to do that, I need to become the version of myself that doesn’t need approval, the version of myself that is who he is because that’s who he chose to be. I need.. to become me. And you should become you.

I think I’m starting to break free.



An essay from 30,000 feet Up.

As I fly over Alabama, headed back home to Chicago, I reflect on time, life, joy, sorrow, appreciation, ungratefulness, and what all these words mean to me. I should mention that the location I’m departing from is Tampa, FL., more specifically Clearwater. This is where the bulk of my immediate family currently lives (with the exception of my brother, who also lives in our hometown, Chicago).

Florida and I have a love hate relationship. Of course meaning I love it and it hates me. I come here to clear my mind, because after all, who wouldn’t? A free place to stay in one of the most serene, naturally beautiful places in the country. A free yearly sabbatical here is quite literally too good to pass up on. But instead I tend to get bombarded with eerie thoughts, waves of depression, and unshakeable anxieties about my past, present, and future. I heard its impossible to have anxiety about the past but my brain proves that theory wrong with every trip here. I forget the joys I had upon arriving, and they get replaced with an emptiness that I could only liken to waking up and realizing you’re the only person left on the planet. What do I have to live for? Most importantly, who do I have to live for? Those two questions are what I hope to answer by the end of this flight, and subsequently, by the end of this essay.

Now, allow me to spoil the ending and say quickly, I am not suicidal. Truth be told I thought I was for a while. I was too young to acknowledge my very real emotions and feelings, and in the world of pharmaceuticals and rush-to-diagnose western practices, I was self-labeled “depressed.” But I must say, this is something different. It feels like God blessed me with the precious gift of life, and immediately cursed me with the life purpose of answering the two questions I’ve posed above. That purpose comes with constant trials, and an obscene amount of mental puzzle pieces to be arranged and organized correctly. So I sit here now, tasking myself finally after 22 long years, with putting this puzzle together once and for all. The answer I came up with?

Freedom. That one word is, to me, the biggest piece of this puzzle called life. Of course it breaks down into many sub-points, but freedom in its purest form is a blessing that no learned man has ever passed up on. The man who is in jail for the rest of his life wants nothing more but to smell grass again. The little things become bigger than life as each caging day goes by. I ask anyone who has access to a man in that predicament (and there are many) if he was able to have his family in there serving his sentence with him, would that make his situation alright? Of course not. It would make things bearable for a while, and for some not even that, as they would hate for their family to be caged away whether with them or not, but it wouldn’t permanently make things okay. You see, from those men you would constantly hear “I just want to see my family again,” but that’s not the whole truth. They want the freedom to choose to see their family again. Just as much as they want the freedom to choose to not see their family again if they should get on bad terms with them. Take the average American. We all apparently want to become rich. We read about it, talk about it, watch videos about a billionaires daily routine and copy it verbatim for months on in, but to no avail. Why are we all caught in this hamster wheel? Because we are all chasing the most arbitrary noun of the 21st century, success. But it doesn’t have to be so arbitrary, if only we knew what we really had to live for. Well, we do, here comes that freedom word again. The average American really just wants the freedom to travel at will, the freedom to eat a healthy meal without fear of breaking the bank, the freedom to purchase a home based off of taste and not based off of economic status, the freedom to have a family emergency and be able to quickly adjust, knowing their bills are covered for at least 6 months. The topic of happiness, which is the most important success to aim for, is extremely nuanced. Freedom, however, is what I believe to be the most important ingredient to this happiness.

So, as my flight descends, I wrap this up with saying, know what you are chasing. We live in a materialistic society that has caged us in a scary cycle of pointless daily rituals. Hustle. Hustle again. Then hustle one more time for good measures. I would be willing to bet that true freedom is hiding behind the curtain of everything you think you want. Fight for your freedom, for the freedom of your family, the freedom of those you love. This is not to sound like a 20th century civil rights speech, as important as those freedoms were. I simply want to share with you the importance of finding your own personal freedoms. Find it and you will never know anxiety again. Knowing when to say no, to me, is more important than knowing how to say it. The greatest freedom you will ever know, is doing everything you do because that is what you chose to do. Not because that is what you have to do to acquire what you think you want. What do I have to live for? Who do I have to live for? The flight attendant is signaling us to stow our things away. So take that freedom word, study it, and allow it to show you a happiness you never knew you’d see.