Ego Is The Enemy, My Personal Story — Part I
When you say something to hurt another person on purpose, who is talking: you or your ego? When you are offered a position to a under-qualified job and you throw a tantrum who is reacting to it? Yes, perhaps it’s your ego.
So many times we act not from your center of being but from a sense of entitlement, pride or frustration, in other words, from the ego center.
I was at the middle of a promising academic career. I had a job as a life coach and was on the verge of becoming one of the head coaches for the company. I had a great girlfriend and we were planning to go on long term trip to Southeast Asia. I had plenty of money, I had food at expensive restaurants and was used to buy whatever clothes I wanted without thinking twice.
I was basically living THE DREAM at the young age of 22. I felt not only superior to other people but I also felt better than everybody around me.
And the most spectacular part of it all is that… it all collapsed in 1 week.
And no, I am not joking, I wish I was. Every short term dream, goal and project for the near future got destroyed in seven days. What a great week that was, you have no idea…
It all started in one fatidic Monday morning when I arrived at the University’s campus. I was feeling pumped, I’d been working on my thesis for the last 2 months and I was in love with my work, even if some doubts were starting to pop up in the back of my mind. So, I open my laptop and among many others, there’s an email from the teacher:
“I thought better about your thesis during this weekend and I decided that I can’t accept your theme, it is not in the curriculum. You can come over if you want to discuss other possibilities.”
I was in shock! Just like that, no explanation, no reason behind it, just because she felt like it. I felt like punching a wall, I felt like punching the librarian and smashing the table in front of me, I felt rage and depression, I felt like giving it all up, I felt like my life was the biggest joke played on anyone, I felt like I didn’t deserve it…
And so, I acted on those feelings.
I’d been thinking about it for a long time and this was the destiny handing it to me on a golden plate. I was done, I would never come back to that campus again or reply to that teacher. That was it. I was done. I was a school drop-out.
It felt good, after all I still had my job as a coach, right?
Fast forward a few days and I am having a morning call with the head coach of the team. It was early, I was hangover from the previous night drinking games and I needed to sleep a bit more. But at least I was about to get promoted, or something like that, right? Oh well… I ended up being fired, since there were new plans for the project.
There was nothing I could do… I felt like opening another bottle of whiskey and drinking it all. How could I be fired? I mean, right after I decided to give up on my Masters? That was unfair, that was not right! I didn’t deserve it, but at least it couldn’t get worse, could it?
Well, a lot worse…
By then I was the main character in a low budget comedy movie portrayed by Adam Sandler. What had to go wrong would go wrong, so wrong that it would stop being funny.
Fuck Murphy and his stupid law.
And there I was waiting for the big punch, the one who destroys you completely.
That moment came when I picked my girlfriend from the airport. She was returning from Italy and I could sense that something was off. “Oh oh”, I thought, “here it comes.”
“Baby, I have to tell you something… I am not really sure about us, right now. I met someone and…”
I couldn’t hear the rest of it. I didn’t care, I was ready for an apocalyptic event by then and could only ask myself “Why me? Why has it to happen to me? Why always me?”. The next couple of months were some of the worst in my life.
I couldn’t work, I couldn’t write and I felt like there wasn’t a valid reason to wake up every morning. I cried a lot, I was angry all the time, I was depressed and had no idea where my life was going.
The only things that kept me alive were books, hitting the gym like never before and my dog. Seriously, I believe that if it wasn’t for my dog I wouldn’t be here today writing this, — thanks buddy, I love you.
It took me quite a while but one day I realized that maybe, just maybe all that happened to me was a bless in disguise. I was back to square one, I had nothing to lose and I was back to the starting point.
The only path that I could take was towards the light, because I had hit rock bottom.
And so, I started to read relentlessly, I travelled as much as I could, I wrote every day over 1k words, I started meditating and found myself looking into spirituality and psychedelics. Once again I found joy in meeting other girls and going out meeting new people. And that was just the beginning…>>
If in the above situation I was faced in a situation similar to Jack’s, in Fight Club, a couple of years later I found myself on the other side of the spectrum:
I was about to turn 25 and my first book was being published by the largest Portuguese publishing house, if I wasn’t a wonder kid then I don’t know what I was. Not only that, but my book is about a 3 month Road Trip across the United States and Canada, a legendary trip, the last adventure across North America. At such a young age I had written a book, been over 20 countries, did a spectacular journey that most people can only dream about, got featured in national magazines and everybody was telling me how great my writing was.
I not only felt better than most people around me, but I also felt more intelligent, capable and braver. I still wasn’t a diva, but I started to notice a tendency, because below that dreamlike superficiality I wasn’t feeling that great.
I was basically bankrupt, I didn’t have sex in almost a year, I was living in my parent’s house, driving a 92 shitty Toyota Corolla sedan and I felt unable to fully communicate with anyone. But the worst part of my life was that I had to work as a hostel receptionist and that seriously made me feel angry at myself and life. The illusion of what working in a hostel was evaporated right in front of me: no fucking foreign girls in the bathroom, the co-workers were ridiculous assholes, too much accounting and responsibility, like: mopping the floor, folding towels, checking-in way too many guests, there were no free times and I even had to make breakfast. I was sick of it, but I needed the money…
Until one night, in an apparently innocuous night shift, around 2.00 am I was checking-in a guest when some guy managed to enter the building through the back door, walked the empty living room, approached the reception, looked around and proceeded to steal my backpack. It was the only fucking thing he stole, he not even looked to the register machine with over one thousand euros in cash. No, just my backpack with everything I owned in it. Everything.
A Macbook Air with months of work in it, my wallet with every conceivable card, my monthly paycheck that I stupidly hadn’t deposited in the bank, house keys, car keys and even the fucking book I was reading.
When I watched the footage from the CCTV cameras and saw the guy picking up my bag and walking away with it I felt what I suppose one feels when is shot in the chest. I felt destroyed. I felt that life, in a deus ex machina kind of way, was taking everything away from me… again. I had had a sample of what a great life could be and before I knew it, I was right back to that moment when my girlfriend dumped me.
I canceled all my Summer plans and had to work for 3 months as a tour guide only to get back to where I was before I got stolen.
And still, on the surface I had never been so successful. Nobody knew how frustrated I felt. I never told anyone about how crushed I felt. Life schooled me the hard way.
I had given everything away for the success of being a published author and in the end I was nothing more than a bankrupt writer, working on a regular 9 to 5 job like everyone else. Why did it had to happen to me, why?
I could I be wasting my talent way, not working and improving my craft. Didn’t I deserve it, after all that work?
No, no I didn’t!
It was during those Summer months that I became in peace with a concept that I knew for a long time, but that I couldn’t accept: I am not entitled to anything! Not even to a fucking dime… Bad things happen all the time to regular people who did nothing to deserve it, things way worse than what happened to me. Just because I over-worked most people around me, I wasn’t entitled to be more successful or to reap the rewards of that hard work. It was all ego, it was all smoke and mirrors.
In that moment, I accepted that I wasn’t better than anyone else and that I was glad that I had another “Fight Club moment”. I needed it to balance my ego.
To be continued…