Auld Lang Syne
Four short years ago, I started the Evolving Man Project. To my delight and surprise, it’s grown tremendously since I published my first ever blog post. The year two thousand and nineteen has been our best year. I look forward to what the new year and decade will bring us. As I reflect on the dawn of a new decade, I think about my ups and downs during this previous decade. The headline photo was from NYE a decade ago. The next pic is one from a recent vacay. In ten years, I’ve added some grown man weight and a full bread, I still look good…lol! (#TenYearChallenge) I know a lot has changed in those ten years.
During this past decade, I have obtained my master’s, moved to a new city (A-T-L Shorty!), brought a house (serious adulting), turned 30 (got my grown man on), became a pack leader to two vicious beasts and changed careers. I married a beautiful and engagingly intelligent woman. I’ve marched and organized in the streets for economic and social justice (#BlackLivesMatter and #OccupyWallStreet). I learned how to be a raft guide, and helped my fellow veterans heal through nature. I joined a union and even became a leader within it (#SolidarityForever). Finally, I achieved the goal of being a published author. I’ve been blessed by all accounts. I’m lucky to be in this position. Unfortunately, many people won’t see this new decade. But with a bit of luck, I’ll have a few more decades ahead of me.
Personally, I’ve had many downs during this decade too. I struggled with PTSD and self-medication, drugs, and alcohol. I hit rock bottom in two thousand and thirteen after my 30th birthday. I had lost a job but almost lost my sanity. It is still an everyday struggle, to say the least, I keep on moving. I’ve been heartbroken and probably broken a heart or two along the way. I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone and escaped death this decade. I was fortunate to be able to walk away from a devastating automobile accident in two thousand and twelve. Lastly, My mental health struggles landed me in an emergency room because, during a break from reality, my fist met a plate glass window. The window, of course, won that fight.
It’s been quite the ten-year journey, but as I reflect, I am still humbled to be here to share my story. Not to brag, but to show those who’ve struggled with being written off by society that you can overcome. I was a ward of the state. I was adopted. I was in a warzone both in the Middle-East and in my hometown of Chicago. I’ve dealt with crippling anxiety and self-doubt. But on the other side of that coin, I’ve found a strong network of friends, family, co-workers, and a loving partner who supports me through thick and thin. In my thirties, despite my failures, I’ve learned to accept my self fully and no longer stress over the things I can’t change. (I’m not getting any taller, sorry Mrs. Haynes). I’ve learned to be a better man in my relationships with women and work daily to combat the internalized sexism taught to every man since childhood. I will always be a recovering misogynist, and I’m okay with that too.
The purpose of the Evolving Man Project isn’t to highlight what is the ‘perfect’ man. It’s to show the world that men of color are much more than stereotypes that surround us. We are men with flaws, with challenges, with inner-demons. We are also men who lead, who listen, who share, who teach, and who grow. We are brothers, fathers, husbands, boyfriends, sons, uncles, cousins, grandfathers, and so much more. What it means to be an evolved man is to know that constant change for the better is a life-long never-ending process. An evolved man learns from their mistakes, and failures to grow to become a more well-rounded human being. I look forward to the next decade because I damn sure know I have a lot more to learn. And some more growing to do.