Part Six in the “Coming Into Your Own” Series

In the first five parts of the “Coming Into Your Own” series I highlighted different people with different backgrounds and with different points of view. The one common thread that ties these people together is their passion, not just to live life on their terms, but to live a life each can truly call their own. The motivation for doing so is to claim, or to reclaim, something just for them – something they can call their own.

When I think about coming into my own I first think about where I have been. There is no question the experiences, challenges and opportunities which have been such a significant part of my life, have also shaped me into who I am today.

As a child, I grew up in a rural North Carolina alienated geographically from other children my own age and alienated emotionally because I suffered from a severe lack of confidence and self-esteem. At age six I started wearing eyeglasses and by the next year I attended speech therapy classes in order to correct a serve stuttering problem and other speech impediments. I was a target for the playground bullies. The children may not have had the moral maternity to know any better, but their words and social exclusions wounded my soul and sense of self. The obstacles endured as a child proved to be a both blessing and a curse throughout my life.

The blessings were manifested by a passion and determination to make something of my life – to improve the generational status of my family and myself. My mother and father are well meaning, but they bought a lot of baggage with them from their childhood into my childhood.

I was determined, if not obsessed, with becoming something in my life. I wore my past as a badge of protest and, perhaps, entitlement. It clouded me and it controlled me. I was determined to engage only in activities that promoted my separation from the past. I worked 35-40 hours per week in college while taking a full load. I was afraid that if I didn’t push myself to extreme limits then I too would succumb to a mediocre world. The price for this overachievement was high. There was no time for meaningful friendships, personal growth or to simply enjoy life.

After college, marriage soon followed. I was teaching high school English when my wife, Mary Beth, and I had our first child. It was clear soon after our son was born that the financial goals that I had established in college were not possible in my present career. A change was made and I accepted a sales position with a publishing company.

Throughout my sales and business career the only thing that truly mattered to me was my success and advancement. Again, the fears from my past commanded me to keep moving forward in the present so as not to reopen or allow those old scares to fester and ooze disappointment and underachievement onto my fragile self-confidence.

Unfortunately, I chose my work as my sole comfort rather than building meaningful friendships or connecting to my family in truly meaningful ways.

This was the sum of life until the summer when I turned 41. Separated from my wife, emotionally distanced from my teenage son and daughter and alienated from God, my life was in emotionally and spiritually decay and my self-confidence had plummeted to the depths of when I was a six-year-old boy teased for being a “four-eyes” who talked like a baby. It was time for me to make different choices, to use my voice and to begin the process of coming into my own.

Next: Learning to come into my own now

Author's Bio: 

Alex Blackwell is the author of The Next 45 Years - a website dedicated to sharing and creating happiness, life balance and success for the rest of our lives. To read more inspirational stories and articles, please visit: www.thenext45years.blogspot.com