Fighting Through Shadows

This is going to be difficult. It will be different than my normal posts about the beautiful game, but this is more for therapeutic reasoning for myself. Let me explain briefly. My mind goes a thousand miles a minute, and sometimes that is good, but sometimes it is about as good as swift kick to the temple. Writing helps me deal with the chaos that is my mind. My latest issue was trying to find my way around or fight through the shadows of my life.

Back in August, the leadership of my company came into my office and stated they were transferring operations from Charlotte to Kansas City and my last day would be on November 20. Quick background, back in 2008 I was laid off three times in 18 months because of the recession. It was a rough time, not being able to provide for my family was both heartbreaking and damn frustrating. I grew from that experience, and it did give me a chance to finish my MBA, so all in all it worked out. But the sting of losing a job, regardless of the situation is something that never leaves you. Now, as I sit with the upper leadership of my previous employer, I’m faced with the same scenario. For those keeping track at home, that would be a total of four times.

I understand the decision, in fact, it was the smartest business decision they could have made for that office. It made sense, but that never makes it easy. I called my wife, and in her normal way of being able to overcome anything, she reassured me that this time was different than the others and we would get through it. She’s my rock and we’ve been through more than our fair share of bullshit in this world, so I never doubt anything she says. The next call was to my father. This call was not something I was looking forward to, and I put it off for a while as I got my nerve to sound professional and prepared for anything he might say.

My father is a successful man in the business world and I have never felt like I’ve been able to live up to his expectations of me. My way of doing things is quite different than his. The constant pressure to not “taint” the Barnett name is something that I take very seriously. Because of this, I have spent most of my life fighting through these make believe shadows to prove my worth. It sounds crazy when I type it, but the truth is I’m chasing an impossible reality.

The phone call to my father was what I expected. The typical, “that’s unfortunate, do what you need to do to survive and let me know if you need any help”, was what I heard. However, after the expected words, he said something unexpected. My father said, “you’ve survived a much worse economy with a smaller skill set, this should be a piece of cake”. I’m sorry…what? I just lost my job with nothing in the hopper and no leads. This should be a piece of cake? I had my doubts.

From the beginning, it was a point of mine not to talk to anyone but my wife about my job search. It does not do any good to talk about it, at least for me. Some people thought it was strange, some thought it was disrespectful. We stood firm, we didn’t mention it to anyone, not even our parents. I interviewed, I had phone calls, I drove myself crazy. I had ups, I had downs, I found myself constantly in the shadows of the successes of the Barnett name. Honestly, all I wanted to find was myself.

Fast forward to late January, last week to be exact, and I get the phone call that makes every anxious moment dissipate. It was a job offer, a damn good one at that, for the job I wanted. I felt a huge release of the stress that had been accumulating since August. After some celebrations with my wife, I called my father. I was both excited and anxious to tell him, almost a nervous energy. I planned it in my head. I knew exactly what I wanted to say. I had done it, I had a job that I knew would make him proud of what I do and finally felt like the shadows would be behind me for good.

I’m not going to go into specifics of what was said, the final sentence was more than enough for me. I told him that I hope this put a smile on his face for the day, and his response was stoic and unpredictable. He calmly said “I’ve always been proud of you, son”. He couldn’t see it, but that brought a huge smile to my face. He’s always reminded me of his pride for me and how I go through life, but this one felt different. It felt like now, at 35, it was true.

The shadows that I have fought through my entire life, will never disappear, but I know where they originate from now. My own mind creates and feeds these shadows. It isn’t important what anyone else does during their time on this earth. If you let shadows get in the way of your own growth, you’ll spend the entire prime of your existence trying to fight through them. Shadows will haunt you. Shadows will destroy your ambition and dreams. Shadows will make you falsely compare your achievements to someone else’s. What you do is what you do, and what you do is important.

Fight through the shadows.

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