Taking Stock at 28

“The unexamined life,” said Plato, “is not worth living.”

And as such, to regard my life and my conduct with seriousness, I must from time to time take stock of myself. Stock of my head and my heart in light of my ideals.

This blog is part journal and I am admittedly coming out of a quarter-life-crisis as I transition from what I am deeming: adulthood to manhood, which I suspect happens to many men near my age.

And yes – I am a fucking massive existentialist. So if self-inquiry and analysis bore you – then this is not for you. It’s mainly for myself and one day for future generations. And yes, I am being a writer and prefacing my own shit with a writer’s insecurity – but, the truth is, as a writer, I also have some generosity of spirit, which leads me to believe that maybe my writing can help someone else – because honestly, I have had to figure out all of this shit for myself, and the honest to G-d truth is, I am still figuring it out at 28.

28 didn’t really hit me until a couple months after my birthday. And when I say hit me, I mean – I feel 28. I’ve felt 24 for quite a few years. Today I feel the responsibility of manhood upon me. It’s not a weight. It’s just a responsibility to myself and to the people who I value – because both of us deserve better from me.

And it’s not hard to look at my last 5 or 6 blog posts and see a recurring theme of some pretty self-critical shit. That’s because I am constantly examining my faults and weakness and sometimes it’s because they have brought me to my knees.

And there is a difference between self-analysis and self-loathing. I have no fear anymore in getting to know myself and I have made friends with who I am. I’m just really into growing through self-examination because this is an important time for me.

Your habits from your 20’s are generally going to follow you the rest of your life. And to me there seems to be a bit of a ‘wet concrete’ effect that’s happening in your late twenties where you have a window to decide whether you are going to accept those flaws as character traits, or whether you are going to deal with them once and for all and put them behind you. I’m not so daft and all-knowing to think that I cannot change in later years, but there is no denying that this transition to manhood is a prime wake up call to usher in the “it’s time to grow up” changes that I need to make in order to be more mature.

And that’s a big reason why I am writing tonight. (Beyond the normal reasons of needing to reconnect to my authentic self, and of taking stock of my head and my heart.)

Tonight I am writing because I need to be mature in order to make this transition to manhood.

Because that opening part about taking stock in myself “to regard my life and my conduct with seriousness” has not always been true. I’ve previously taken stock in myself because my life mattered to me – you know happiness and success. But that’s not real maturity. Real maturity is thinking about other people more than yourself, and thinking about the future more than the present.

And why would I do that. I certainly didn’t the previous years. I spent my twenties as an arrogant, selfish, and often self-destructive individual. That’s not to say I had crappy twenties or was a crappy person. Far from it. My twenties have been amazing and I have been immensely fortunate. And despite the wrong decisions I have made, I’ve made some really right decisions. But where I am now, is in transition from adulthood to manhood and to do that properly I need to display the maturity needed to address the things that have been destructive forces in my life until now so that I can have a family, which has always been one of my ultimate purposes in life.

Because as you grow older, your definition of happiness changes, and as that happens, your priorities in life change.

That’s not to say that leading up until now I was directionless or didn’t have a sense of my own destiny – I’ve always had a sense of my purpose and who I wanted to be.

I wrote one of the most shaping forces of my twenties at 23, which I call My Creed.

I am re-posting it below, because it still contains all of the guidance I need to be the man that I aspire to be.

Be confident and unselfconscious. Be sincere and kind. Be modest. Be compassionate. Be effortless and relaxed. Be consistent in public and private. Be mature. Be passionate. Be brave. Be all the things that are so much rarer.

Earn it by living well. Feed your mind, body, and spirit. Keep your commitments. Look ahead and cultivate relationships. Have good taste and do interesting things. Have ‘generosity of spirit.’

Have a good time and don’t bother with people you don’t think well of. Treat people with respect and don’t take shit from anybody.

{originally written on 05/15/2008}

And ironically enough, in the first paragraph above, Be mature is a tenet of my creed.

And yet, despite all of my life experience leading up until now. I have not mastered maturity, which is funny, because if you looked at my life and all of the life experience I have amassed in my 28 years, you would think I would be a mature man.

I’ve gone through some particularly major rights of passage in my twenties: Coming out of the military, buying a property, the ending of a long relationship, living in multiple cities, building a successful business and then starting over, and all the while cultivating myself personally and professionally through the ups and downs.

Someone else with a similar life-experience might very-well embody the maturity that I haven’t had until now, but each of us has our own shortcomings, and for me thinking about the future over the present and thinking about others over myself has been a major shortcoming of mine.

And maybe my life experience has nothing to do with it, maybe it’s because I haven’t yet started a family and haven’t needed to think about the future more than today or other people more than myself.

As recently as the 1960s, the average age of first marriage for women in the U.S. was 20, and men 22. Today, the average is 26 for women and 28 for men.

So, maybe I’m right where I am supposed to be. Part of me feels like I am.

I certainly could not have written a more perfect or colorful life to serve the purpose of enriching me, because that truly is the purpose that I have set life and the universe to task with thus far: to cultivating myself as a man.

And in some crazy, continuing spiritual coincidence I have accomplished the growth that my twenties were dedicated to through the lessons that I learned in the people, signs, and messages that the universe sent to me – or perhaps that I attracted into my life.

As my self written bio in the left column says:

I am also passionate about the serendipitous nature of life; the right interactions, people, messages, signs and lessons always have a way of finding you if you are looking for them.

As I have described in the preceding paragraphs, my life has been very serendipitous, and it’s driven so much of my growth and contributed so greatly to my self-knowledge and awareness.

But I need to keep going. I need to grow more. I need to take advantage of this open window. I’m not willing to let these flaws become character traits. I want to man-up and be forward thinking and unselfish.

The cement is still wet. So, now it is time for a new journey. One where the future matters more than today and the people I love matter more than myself.

I don’t need to move to yet again a different city, or search for a different girlfriend to find this.

I am right where I need to be right now. Now, I just need to put myself to task to doing the work that I need to do.

It’s not as simple as just putting it out there in the universe. The law of attraction is cool, but you can’t spell attraction without action. 

The more deep you go with growth, the further outside of your comfort zone you must venture.

If you’re going to eliminate the high-level shit that’s been holding you back, then you are going to need to be okay with going beyond your comfort zone.

That’s part of being mature; getting outside of your comfort zone, and doing the shit you don’t want to do but need to do to be the person the people in your life deserve, and that you deserve for yourself. That’s part of being happy, healthy, and well-adjusted.

If you can look at yourself honestly and work on the things that you can do to be a better friend, father, brother, lover, husband, and individual – then you can be friends with yourself, and you can love yourself, which is really what being happy is all about. But remember, it requires taking stock of yourself and examining your life from time to time. Because, as Abraham Maslow said, “What a man can be, he must be”.

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