Over the last two months I’ve had very little sense of time.
I’ve been focused on writing every day. This has led to increased learning, personal growth, and literally transforming before my own eyes.
What I’ve realized is that I’ve created something that’s allowing me to be my most authentic, truthful self. I’ve created an outlet for my expression with Th-Ink Queerly, where my mission is to help people see things differently.
Think of being stuck in life like being stalled in an elevator.
You pressed the button for your desired floor/destination. Now you stand and wait. There is no other option.
Without warning, the elevator comes to a complete stop between floors.
The battery in your cell phone is dead. You can’t do anything about the elevator, except to use the intercom to call for help.
Let’s pretend you’re the only one in the cab.
This gives you a moment to be aware, to stop racing around, running from, or running towards your goal.
Worst case scenario
This unexpected stop gives you the opportunity to ask yourself, not only why you’re running, but what you’re running towards.
Can you “just be” with your thoughts?
There are only two ways out of being stuck in this kind of situation:
The elevator moves again, up to whatever floor you selected. The predestination, the floor that you presumed you were going to. No change, just delayed.
Or, the elevator is broken and stuck between floors. Help arrives and pulls open the doors and they help you out of the elevator. Now you’re no longer stuck, but you’re in a different place.
Where do you want to get off?
Stop and think about this question for a moment. The second possible outcome for this metaphorical situation is purposefully vague.
Being stuck is like a road sign
You need to notice it because it has something of value you to tell you. The sign gives you the opportunity to notice where you are, and choose how to course correct. if needed.
How are you stuck?
Sometimes we are stuck because of our own doing, because of our own internal struggles, beliefs, and so on.
“This is how I’ve always done it.”
“I can’t lose weight no matter how hard I try!”
“I wish I could live as an out and proud, gay man.”
Sometimes we get stuck because of external circumstances.
An accident on the highway makes you 90-minutes late for an important meeting.
Your date stood you up and you’re sitting alone at the restaurant.
Your doctor gives you unsettling news about your health.
What’s going on? Stop. Breathe. Notice
In any of these scenarios, the possibility exists to be aware and mindful of what’s going on. It’s an opportunity to ask yourself if you’re going in the right direction and if you have a destination in mind.
Maybe it’s time that you asked for help.
Maybe it’s time that you slowed down before you can speed up.
When help arrives, a hand reaches down to help pull you out of the elevator. Do you ignore it, or do you grab that person’s hand and do all you can to help them help you?
Most of us are so busy running without any awareness of our surroundings.
Stuck in an elevator (and getting stressed out over something you can’t control).
Waiting impatiently in line (when we could stop, relax, call a friend, or read a journal entry on our phone from a year ago).
Going nowwhere in a traffic jam (listen to a podcast, or an audiobook and be grateful for what you’re about to learn).
Working on an overdue report (and missing an important call from your partner or child…)
Texting while walking (not seeing the person who you want to ask out, smile at you as they walk by…)
These are the moments in our modern lives when we can look around, take a deep breath, exhale, and ground yourself in the present moment.
Being authentic in a status quo world is easier said than done.
Why is this such a big deal, to be authentic, and what does it mean?
Here’s the Oxford dictionary definition of authentic,
“of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine.“
The etymology of authentic is from the late Latin, authenticus, meaning ‘principal, genuine.’
Being authentic means being an original and not a copy of anyone else.
But if feels like there’s a big problem with that.
Society for the most part does not want originality. Society wants status quo.
Governments want everyone to fall in line and to do what they’re told. Children go through a school system where everyone is taught in the same way, even kids who would do better with a different method.
Tradition is a priori status quo
Religions have their own sets of rules about how you should act. Fall in line and you go to heaven. Break the rules and you’ll burn in the fires of damnation.
Add a psychopathic zealot or fundamentalist into religion, and rules become so perverse that people start killing other people, even within their own tribe.
Many countries believe that their neighbours to the east or west are the root of evil, a propaganda state, or the wrong political persuasion.
Men should be men and women should be women with no crossing the line. Science and LGBTQ peoples will tell you otherwise.
“I don’t want to be called gay, because I’m simply a man … full stop,”
Doesn’t it feel precarious, standing out on the fringes of society, while the mob of brainwashed neophytes march towards you with Nazi banners and burning Kiki torches?
There will always be followers
There are those who,
Don’t want to lead
Want to be told what to do
Are happy with the way things are
Each of those statement is anathema to me. Sometimes I feel like an island and I can’t relate to the boxed-in towers I see on the mainland.
And here’s the paradox. We can’t subsist as islands. We need others.
Perhaps being authentic is to understand the value you can bring to the world, the gifts you can share, or your insights that can start a movement.
The timeline of authenticity
How long until you can become the best definition of yourself?
As long as it takes.
Recently I made a shift in my message, and as a result, my market. I was too much like everyone else in health, fitness, and coaching. I had little of value to say.
So I narrowed things down to what I know I love to do: writing and coaching. Then I got clear, rather I was reminded of who I am and was finally able to answer the question, “Darren, why don’t you work with gay men?”
I’m gay, but I forgot to BE GAY
Being gay is who I am. I’ve been exploring what that means most of my adult life. You’ll see the pieces of this puzzle in my writings on Th-Ink Queerly.
I long for a new tag on Medium: “gay personal development.” That sums up what drives me.
I want to be a better gay man. Not “better” in the sense of good vs. bad. But better in the sense of authentically validated, self-aware, proud, joyful, and unashamed.
How do you know if you’re being authentic?
If you have to ask — as the saying goes — you’re not being authentic.
When you’re an island you’re inauthentic.
When people comment on your latest post or video with, “I love this and the ease in which you now communicate,” it’s because you’re being authentic.
“Your audience is smart — they know when you’re into your words.” – Tom Kuegler
You’ll also know you’re being authentic when your work, craft, or endeavour, feels effortless.
The production and performance of your core work will give you more energy than not doing it.
You will speak without having to worry about what to say next.
You will listen without concern for what you need to say.
You will feel like you have never felt before, without fear about who you are, or who you think you need to be.
Have you ever gone left (or right) instead of forward?
Have you looked back at the impressions of your past and wondered how you got off track, or why you didn’t succeed?
Have you felt you knew your life purpose, but for all your clarity, you had no idea how to live into that mission?
This happened to me.
A year ago, today, I discovered my mission in life. I felt the absolute truth of my purpose, not just from the words themselves, but from the manner in which my purpose revealed itself.
This has happened before in the exact same way. I’ve been focused on answering a question and I sense that an awareness is about to come though. It feels as if someone else is speaking through me. It is me, but perhaps it’s my higher consciousness that only communicates with the greatest, most fluid, and fleeting clarity.
For my morning journalling, I asked myself the same questions to prompt deep self-awareness. I reflect on what I learned the day before, what I’m grateful for, what abundance I’m experiencing, and to visualize what I want to be, do, or have. I close the session by asking, “What’s most important for me to accomplish today?”
Side note: Most times I do this practice walking outside. I discover the greatest clarity and insight while moving and in nature. I use speech to text on my iPhone to record my thoughts into my Day One app quickly and with little interruption of my stream of consciousness.
Journal entry: Thursday, December 15, 2017
What am I grateful for today?
I have to say how grateful I am for the experience of coaching Steven (not his real name). I recognize how much I see myself when I coach deeply and help others strategically work towards improving their situation or solving their own problems. How can I use self-awareness and turn it into something larger to help more people?
In reading Steven’s manuscript, many of the things he is bringing together resonate deeply with me. Things like reconciliation, communication, truth, understanding how our perceptions form our reality, and how much free will we have in any given situation.
The rewards come to those who do the work and consistently practice their new learnings to serve others. I now know, with what I know about myself, and the freedom that I have to create, that I have unlimited potential that allows me to create an abundant and prosperous future. I am on the path and it is one step in front of the other.
What’s most important for me to accomplish today?
Peace of mind and tranquility – I don’t feel like I can push myself today. I need to be open to the awareness of whatever feels off inside of me at this moment.
I think I know what it is. When I said that, I felt something speak within me that went something like this:
You keep talking about these ideas, Darren. You write or dictate them into your journal. Your intense self-awareness leads to discoveries, not just about yourself, but about the universal human condition. You are a gift in this world. Your willingness to go as deep as required to be completely transparent and vulnerable is the gift you can give to the world. And when you are deepest in the expression of this message you will resonate with others. You will have the possibility of, not so much of creating a movement, but of moving people. Of moving people along the path of moral and ethical transformation. Of moving people toward a better future, one that is not built upon cultural animosity, fear, or excessive corporate greed at the expense of human life, and the organic being that is our planet earth. A better future that is not built upon surrendering your life, your health, your relationships, your well-being to the corporation, to capitalism and greed. Your message will help people to go inward and recognize that their free will has been compromised by a select few people who have transgressed the essence of that which we call humanity. You can be the leader that people are looking for without leading them directly. But do not lead. Simply be and do the things that make you who you are, and allow you to live the fullest expression of you and your life. These physical and linguistic movements may act as inspiration for others, not to mirror, but to reflect through their own lens of perception, to make their own, what is already theirs to have. All is within all. But we have lost sight of this through the excessive use and dependence upon technologies that displace our awareness of being.
That still seems so much bigger than me, but I know it’s what I’m meant to do!
One year later, I launched my publication on Medium, Th-Ink Queerly. Writing is clearly part of my life purpose to be vulnerable, to share my insights through personal stories, and to speak out about what I think are injustices in the world.
I’m grateful for the reminder of what has inspired me to make the choices I’ve made over the last year. I realize even though it felt like I wasn’t living my deeper purpose, I was, in fact, searching for the “how”. Along the way, I must have simply trusted myself to follow the path, however unclear. Now it feels like everything is lining up and all the pieces are coming together.
Do you ever feel like there’s something missing in life?