Trip Down Memory Lane

Going back to where you were raised can bring many different feelings. By reconnecting with past experiences, oftentimes new lessons can be learned. Author of John Adams, David McCullough said, “History is who we are and why we are the way we are.” In this, by experiencing our past at a new point in our lives, we can learn new things about ourselves.

Outside my Childhood Home

I recently visited my hometown to spend a weekend with my family. During the visit, I was able to reconnect with several family members and friends who I haven’t seen in years. Some time was spent touching base with people who care about me and helped mold the true Brent that is slowly revealing himself. Many of these people, I believe, had no clue of the turmoil going on inside of me as I grew up. While back in my hometown, a stop on the interstate that I couldn’t wait to flee after high school, I drove around to the places I used to hang out and thought about the events and moments that led me to my current place. I took time to enjoy one of my favorite restaurants, Skyline Chili, and reminisce about my youth with my father. I also met one of my nephews for the first time and marveled at how much my younger sister and brother have grown up.

Through all of this I am realizing that the things I’ve experienced while growing up in my small hometown in the Midwest have granted me knowledge and skills I would not have otherwise gained. Being friendly, courteous, and making friends with your neighbors are a way of life back home. I’m learning that this sense of community is very important to me. Also, I wandered around places where I camped out, fished, and rode my bike, recalling where I learned a respect and enjoyment of the natural beauty around me. For a place that I couldn’t wait to leave once I graduated high school, being there again, with a new perspective, revealed so many new things about me.

In closing, going back the where things started in my case of unknown identity, has led me closer to bringing out the Brent I am supposed to become. I now know that all that seems bad, can lead to good things in the long run. Touching base with where you came from does shine light on the path we travel in life.

Have you ever gone back and learned all new things from the visit down memory lane?


A New Take On Me

My name is Brent, and I’m a hot mess. I started this blog to help me find who I am and where I want to go. So far in my life, I have been fearful and uncertain about almost everything. I’m working towards being more intentional with my decisions and the direction my life will take. I think the reason I have been uncertain is because I’m realizing I interact very differently with different groups of people.

I understand as an adult that varying my personality based on the situation is an important communication skill; that’s not what I am talking about here. I have created completely separate facades which I believed allow me admission into the different groups I have associated myself with throughout my life. However, when I think about who I really am, I’m left confused and unable to answer.

Maintaining the alternative Brents has left me even more curious about who the true me is at this point. I am not saying I have split personalities, as each persona has a little bit of me, but taken to the extreme.

My different personas gig started at a young age. When I was in grade school, I was short, fat and smart; the perfect fodder for being picked on.  From about middle school on, I started creating different Brent’s.  Each “me” had a different back story, filled with some half-truths and white lies to help me fit in better, and, for the most part, it worked.

By the time I reached high school, I’d created enough Brents to fit in with almost any group.  I earned amazing grades without cracking a book, played 2 sports, worked 2 jobs and was involved in several other extra curricular groups. I kept myself so busy that I didn’t have time to think of the consequences having so many personas would have on my future. I just performed without thought because what I was doing really was acting.

I went to college 8 hours from home, at the University of South Carolina.  While there, the pressure to fit in impacted me even more. I was a northerner living in the South (which is a bigger deal than most think), and knew exactly zero people when I arrived in Columbia. It wasn’t long before I created another me to fit in with the new crowd. I lived in the dorms and quickly became friends with the other guys there.

I became a one-upper for a while and felt pressure to do something a little crazier or better than the other guys. I worked at a church camp during the summer and attended a christian fellowship group during the school year, but often partied hard at night. With each group, I became what they, or what I thought they, wanted me to be. Through this time, I lost all sense of direction and purpose in my life. I dropped out of school, moved around a bit, and worked wherever I found a job.

I am the guy that likes the same music those around me listen to, and I enjoy the same food as those I am with. Think Julia Roberts’ character in “The Runaway Bride.” I mean, who doesn’t know how they like their own eggs cooked?

Recently I have been trying to find the real me, and after years of playing different characters, this will be no easy task. I’m planning to take you all on this journey with me. I am going to examine my different faces and explore unknown parts of me to find out who the real Brent is; what I like, dislike, what I want to be, and what legacy I want to leave with the rest of my life.

So far, there are a few things I know about myself to be true. First, I love my wife. She inspires me to be greater than I have been. She makes me a better me and this world a better place, just for being her. Next, I know I love Disney World, and the magic feeling being there creates. Lastly, I love to read; anything I can get my hands on I will devour. Aside from this, I will learn as I go, and let you know.

Have you ever been in a situation or interacted with a group that made you feel the only way to be accepted was to be someone other than yourself?

Have You Seen The Backside Of Water?

Have you ever had a decision to make, but never seemed to be able to find a solution? No matter how hard or long you pondered it, no clarity seemed to come. Most of us have been at that place where we felt stuck, not knowing what to do or how to solve a problem. I look at a situation one way, and slowly the fear of making the wrong choice would creep in, and I freeze. For me, I live in this place of inaction for way longer than anyone should, allowing my fear of wrong choices to cause opportunities to pass, and have missed out on important events with family and friends. I would often stay so focused on the way I was looking at a decision and the fear I was feeling, but rarely breakthrough to find a solution. I am learning new tricks to combat this. I feel every person can move ahead when they are stuck by trying to get a different perspective.
File:Jungle Cruise Entrance Sunset.JPG

I was visiting Walt Disney World when this message of “new perspective” really stuck in my head. Within the Magic Kingdom, there is a ride know as The Jungle Cruise.  The Skipper takes you through different rivers of the world, full of scenery and animatronic animals, while telling really corny jokes.  As the boat progresses, there is a waterfall in the scene. Later, the boat circles around and goes under the overhang of rocks causing the falls to be on the other side of the boat. At this point the skipper makes a joke about seeing the “backside of water.” On one particular ride, this joke became more profound and less funny.  I have ridden the ride about a dozen times and never has it made a light bulb go off. It made me realize that the way we look at things has a dramatic impact on the outcomes.

Brooks Atkinson once said “The most fatal illusion is the settled point of view. Since life is growth and motion, a fixed point of view kills anybody who has one.” For many years I have looked at everything from a fearful point of view. Fear of making the wrong choice paralyzes me, not allow me to evaluate things differently. Doing this killed the creative mind and the ability to act within me.  Changing our view point in any situation allows us to grow and learn. It opens our minds to new experiences.

Many times people have given the advice to step away from a problem. That distance and inaction will allow you to come back fresh. Recently, however, I have been challenging myself to step around something that is going on in my life. Like the golfer on the green, who makes a complete circle of the hole before putting, we should look at our trying situations from all angles before being fearful.

When was the last time you saw the “backside of water,” and allowed yourself to look at something from all sides?