I wrote this post a couple months ago, but I really feel that it should be outside of draft status.

I’ve been thinking a lot about transformations lately, which has spurred from so many different directions and mediums. An email found its way to my inbox, requesting an update from an article written about me in 2006 (and my single life), for one. This person, I’m sure with good intentions, basically wanted to know if I ended up “happy”… but also wanted to know about the dating scene in Cleveland. The latter, I’m sure is awful (because isn’t it awful everywhere); the former: undoubtedly, yes.

[Ed note: I never responded to the letter, and yes, I told my partner about it.]

Ultimately, the whole thing left me feeling exposed all over again. I didn’t really like feeling exposed then (yes, despite agreeing to have the magazine do an article about me), and particularly now, my former life (and all its mishaps and misadventures) feels like some deep secret that I need to keep closeted away.

Prior to this email, I was equally caught off-guard when catching up on my Rich Roll podcast, to hear the infamous name of a fellow blogger (some would probably call us both douchebags or some derivative in our collective blogger heyday): Tucker Max. We both reveled in a lifestyle of partying and drinking and sipping up every opportunity to be wild and independent of really any responsibility. Those were our 20s. And in the early blogging days, bloggers like us wrote about their dating exploits — the good, the sad, the cringe-worthy, and the total destruction of messy break-ups and subsequent loneliness. He, obviously, wrote a lot more about the sex.

[Read: Tucker Max gives up the game {via Forbes}]

I broke up with my old blog (and its identity) years ago and never looked back. I experienced growth far beyond that identity (even if there are still many who refuse to believe that a person can change — family included). There was an inherent shame that was soon evident, attaching my online persona to that of Real Life Me, which affected me deeply both personally and, I honestly think, professionally, despite my feelings of pride at the time. People made me feel really, really bad about who I was. So I did a lot of soul-searching and friend searching and acceptance searching — in a lot of bad ways. For a lot of years. But it took a lot of digging in to uncover what was truly going to make me happy (was I not happy?). Make me even a better person (was I really that terrible or that different from any other single 20-something person?). In any event, that type of lifestyle was sure to run its course, and it did, and I have evolved. And I’ve moved on.

What took the longest was my self-worth. That I was worthy of praise and accomplishment and, most of all, love. That’s a ridiculous thing to admit, right? But man… I felt so damned and worthless for a huge bulk of my early adulthood. And it was all online. Exposed. Shamed.

I think that’s what made reading Jon Ronson’s “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” so… pained for me. The differences in actions and behaviors of shaming so abunduntly different online versus real life, but wholly affecting the person subjected to this public display of admonishment in BOTH. That pain, I think, lingers deep and long. And even more sad (and a lot more recent), Bullies came out like cockroaches despite the best efforts in pest control.

I found peace in my transformations, to be sure, and I don’t go searching for anyone’s permission or acceptance to living my own life… but that email definitely stirred up some bad memories.

More reading: How does one go about re-inventing oneself? For me, it wasn’t so much calculated as it was maturity and experience. And an absence of naivete. Letting go of things that no longer serve you, so they say. My buddy Justin (if you followed that link at the beginning of this paragraph) sums it up so succinctly: All you have to do is think differently and act accordingly.

Related posts:

  • I’ve had some interesting discussions about “happiness” lately. One thought I keep bouncing on is the idea that happiness is overrated compared to purpose. Happiness comes and goes; it’s great, but it’s partly great because it’s impermanent, so its absence makes us desire it more and appreciate it when it’s here. But purpose is what drives fulfillment, which can be far more lasting.

    Which is not to say “don’t pursue happiness,” so much as “pursue fulfillment and you’ll likely find happiness at various points along the way.”