Do you feel as though you live your life with purpose? If so, what is the driving force for that purpose?
I do feel like I am living my life with purpose, but at times I feel like there is more. So I believe our purpose in life can change or evolve. But at this moment, helping/serving people is at the top of my list. The world we live in today is becoming heartless and selfish. If you don’t believe me, just watch the news. We are becoming a society of ‘I got mine, now get yours’. But this can change. One person can create a chain reaction of good habits.
Why is it so difficult for black American men in this culture to be themselves, their authentic selves, and remain who they truly are?
There are so many factors that we as Black men have to deal with. I will give you two. Our culture and our family. They often go hand in hand. Societal norms or what is perceived to be a norm often dictate behavior characteristics we as Black Men are supposed to possess or suppress. I know many of us can remember being told, men don’t cry or man-up. Displaying emotions is often perceived as being weak or inferior in both society and our homes. As I got older I realized that’s actually the opposite. I also discovered that my mind replaces being hurt with being angry. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is common. Let’s first acknowledge that we are hurt and then seek to find the source of that hurt.
At what point does a boy become a man?
Biologically, a boy becomes a man when he hits puberty, which is when he reaches full reproductive ability. But also, a boy becomes a man when he knows who he is and what he stands for. Some of the various attributes he will possess might be, bravery, responsibility, self-control, discipline, empathy toward others, self-sacrificing, etc.
Throughout our lives we will change. Some good and some bad. But the man we are today will be a reflection of the man we will be in the future regardless if we are open to change. What’s important to us at a particular age may be deemed trivial or juvenile at an order age. I believe when a boy is ready to make a decision and stand by those results whether they are good or bad, he is a man. If he doesn’t stand by his decision he may be labeled a man-child. But in either instance, he is a man.
What is something that people misunderstand about you?
A lot of times I am perceived as heartless and cold, but being honest with myself, I understand where they are coming from. That is a reflection of the emotional walls I have built. At a young age, society taught me that I must be hard and show no emotions. But as I continue to experience life, I am learning to love hard. I am less afraid or embarrassed by my emotions. Showing emotions is key to having long-lasting relationships. But ask yourself, what’s wrong with showing people you care and have empathy? Letting down my walls and giving myself permission to show my emotions, mentally has been such a release. But I am a work in progress. For as long as I could remember or was able to define it, I have struggled with depression. After countless therapy sessions, I have and continue to learn positive ways to cope.
What in life is beautiful to you?
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” From the beautiful images of the Rocky Mountains to the beautiful images of the Greek Isle, nature is beautiful. But I also see acts of kindness as beautiful.
Where does your inspiration come from?
That is easy. I know I receive blessings from God all the time. It isn’t earned, but is a gift I could never match. I just look at my life and the people who are a part of it and I just smile. We have and are doing amazing things. I am inspired to keep moving and keep doing God’s work.
Who is the most impressionable man in your life?
My dad is the most impressionable man in my life. Through him I have seen and learned sacrifice, dedication and unconditional love. He is my Father (biological), my Daddy (he raised me) but he is also my Friend. You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends. As I have gotten older, our bond has become one that I value more and more each day. My love for my dad has no end.
For future generations of men reading this: is there any wisdom you’d want to pass on to them? What would you want them to know? Do you follow this advice yourself?
Express yourself. Discover who you are. Don’t let society put you in a box. I often call that box, the “Black People Don’t___ “– now fill in the blank. All this does is limit your experiences. This world is huge with billions of experiences waiting for you. Open up your mind and your heart. Keep this in mind, don’t focus on the future so much that you miss the present. Planning for the future is a good thing, but I believe there has to be a balance. Don’t wait till you are in your twilight years before you start to live. Our bodies have an expiration date on them, don’t wait until it’s too late. With the way this world is going, keep this in mind: There is room for Jesus and a therapist. Being a Black Man today isn’t an easy road. It often feels like we are being attacked from all sides. Go out and get some help fighting those battles. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. So when you do, lower your guard. I know firsthand that allowing yourself to be vulnerable can seem scary, but you need to constantly remind yourself that the therapist is there to help you not judge you.