Some people think I was born lucky.
They only know the good days, not the bad ones. I spent most of my adult life single and broke. The reasons are obvious to me now, but back then I didn’t know anything. And worst of all, I refused to listen.
So I stayed trapped for far too long and many of you can relate.
Six small things helped me make a change.
1. The one I’m most scared to share
Asking for help.
Seems crazy to share but that’s the hardest one. I knew in high school and even in my 20s that something was wrong.
I couldn’t sit on a bus for more than 30 minutes without feeling anxious. If I had to give a 5-minute talk for school or work, I’d be anxious for weeks leading up to the event.
I regularly felt sick. I vomited all the time. People called me “ghost” because I was always white as a ghost and looked like I was on the verge of being sick.
It felt embarrassing. I could hardly do anything.
I just battled through because I didn’t want to admit to anyone that I was a mess out of fear they might judge me — or worse, leave me.
It became clear over time that all roads led to the fact I needed therapy. But making the appointment felt like too much. I imagined showing up to the therapist’s office with the staff and patrons in the waiting room judging me.
There was too much pain, so I just put it off.
What changed is a I finally had enough. I just didn’t care anymore about anyone or anything. So the worst-case scenario I feared didn’t matter anymore. I finally made the appointment.
I told someone for the first time what a day in my head felt like.
After several sessions they told me what I felt was normal and could be treated. It felt like a biblical miracle. I couldn’t believe the answer was so simple. Who knew.
When men get therapy we heal.
2. Dopamine addiction
All those years ago I didn’t know what dopamine was.
There was no mainstream narrative around it, and the effects of p*rn and similar addictions weren’t really known.
I had lots of big goals when I was younger. I wanted to be a famous musician and then be the owner of a successful business. I wanted to be a charismatic leader who could give powerful speeches.
But none of it ever happened.
I’d try something new and give up fast. I wanted results quickly. It became common for me to measure my progress compared to everyone else’s.
What I’d often miss is that trust fund babies had fake jobs, fake progress, and fake money. So I could never match these idols, and the game was rigged. And these kids were often the most unhappy behind closed doors.
As I’ve got older I’ve become more aware of the dopamine reward system that runs our brains. I’ve been much more careful of rewarding myself with junk food, sugar, TikTok/social media, or s*xual indulgences.
Once you can see dopamine-driven behavior you can turn it around and make it an advantage. But if you don’t see its nasty effects it can run your life and keep you single and broke like I was.
3. A lack of responsibility
I’ve had my fair share of money problems over the years.
For too long I blamed employers, family, bad relationships, inflation, governments, tech platforms, etc, for all the issues.
There was a turning point when I was about 26 when I decided to take responsibility and learn how the financial system works the way someone learns a new language like Spanish.
I read a lot of books on the topic and met people who’ve become comfortably wealthy. I realized it wasn’t privilege but knowledge that I missed. And thanks to the internet I could get the knowledge for free or from a few $10 books on Kindle. So I did.
And my money situation slowly began to turn around.
4. Too much ego
I had a huge ego back then which might sound weird given what you’ve just read. But a big ego and fake confidence is how I papered over the cracks.
It helped people think I was normal or “okay” so they wouldn’t find out the truth. Now it’s obvious that this is why I was single for so long.
I could only talk about myself.
I didn’t give a sh*t about anyone else — or a woman on a date — because I thought the world revolved around me and my problems. In my early 30s I got better at dating because I shut up about myself.
I researched the other person and was curious about them and their life. One woman I met told me about how her sister was murdered. Another woman told me about her Olympic coach father and his struggles.
What I began to see was that we all have interesting stories. That got me out of my head and helped me lower my ego enough to the point where someone would actually date me, or even fall in love with me.
5. No purpose
I didn’t have a goal in life back then.
All my early childhood dreams of a career in music or a successful tech startup were dead. I just accepted it and stopped trying. I got an easy job in banking and just went through the motions.
You can see how that value proposition wasn’t attractive to women. And how I never made much money because I hated everything I did for work.
Unlike what the law-of-attraction gurus teach, a magical calling or purpose didn’t just appear out of nowhere. I had to find it. The way I did it was using an experimental mindset.
I decided to just have new experiences. To make it a goal to try new things and meet new people as much as possible.
Through a series of bizarre circumstances I found writing and online business. Back then they were the two least likely things I could imagine myself now doing at age 37. But here we are.
So if I was trying to help someone with a similar problem, I’d say:
- Embrace uncertainty
- Don’t try to know what you’re doing
- Don’t have a plan
- Forget about undefinable purposes and callings
Just have new experiences. Then look for activities that become habits and lead to obsession.
6. The drink that ruined every good thing I had
“Alcoholic” is a strong word.
But that’s what I was. I grew up in underground nightclubs trying to get significance by being a DJ. I sucked as a DJ though.
In this world everyone drinks. The cooler you are the more you drink. And the more crazy stuff you do, the higher you climb on the social ladder. That ladder helps you land DJ gigs and get paid for bringing people to the club.
What it also does is make you an alcoholic.
I became dependent on it. When life didn’t work, I’d drink. When I needed to climb the ladder in my career, I’d drink with senior managers. When I was single and depressed, I’d go on dates and get blind drunk.
All the drinking ruined my liver. It gave me diarrhea and dehydrated my skin. But it was a fantastic band-aid. I could escape anything with alcohol. I could teleport to a different world where I was happy and successful.
When I’d wake up the next day though, all the chaos I caused became visible. And that made me invisible to society once more.
Giving up alcohol was hard. But it got easier when I found new ways to deal with my problems that didn’t require 20 beers.
We all have our demons.
Lean into them instead of avoiding them and you can escape whatever hellhole you may find yourself in. And my biggest takeaway…
Don’t be afraid of therapy. The most successful people you know secretly use it to heal.