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A Holistic View of the Self

By Justin HigginsPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 7 min read

A boy came home from school running home so that he could ask his father a question. "Dad, there's this girl at school and…."

“Okay.” Replies the father.

“I need help with trying to get her attention. What do I say to her?”

“I see.” The father replies thoughtfully and sits down while motioning his son to do the same, “Let me tell you a story.”

Sometimes the best way to get a thought across is by telling a story. It grasps the listener's attention while conveying profound truths about life that will stay in the listener's conscious. Storytelling was also a common way of keeping a people’s history alive across generations in ancient civilizations.

Speakers use this approach today even with technology in the form of Google, cell phones, and social media. Yet, still the most effective way to relay information is by telling a story because people can relate more genuinely to someone who has been through what they've been through. Therefore, I will be replicating this process by telling my story of what self-awareness has done in my life.

My Journey

I have not always been the most self-aware person, and that lack of self-awareness immediately showed after I graduated from high school. I went straight into the work world as I grabbed a job at Regal Entertainment Group. It was not my intention, but I would end up working at Regal for 10 ½ years.

While working, I could not tell you why I wanted to be at the movie theater. I, too, could not tell you why I did not quit when I grew tired of the job. My lack of self-knowledge had everything to do with my decision to work at Regal. Through high school, I discovered nothing about myself. I did not have any hobbies, aspirations, or goals, nor did I have any behaviors that I felt I needed to improve. To put it bluntly, I was lost within myself, and I did not even realize it.

During this period of my life, I went through my worst stage of girl chasing. Any girl that I thought was cute caught my attention. I wanted to date any girl that I worked with that gave me attention. And anytime I could perform a task that increased my chances of being around attractive girls/women I did it because I thought it increased my chances of being in a relationship.

To no surprise, this mindset did not work. It made me only look desperate and less attractive. Furthermore, I would spend most of my free time at the theater chatting with co-workers because I had no life outside of it. I wrapped my whole identity into who I was at Regal – a hard worker, a nice guy, and a manager.

After just over eight years at the same location, I decided to transfer to a movie theater an hour and a half away because I wanted to increase my chances of obtaining a promotion. Unfortunately, the move ended up being a poor decision for two reasons – (1) I did not realize how this job was a bad fit for me, and (2) I did not notice how this job was taking over my life negatively.

Because I had no future aspirations, I worked just to work with no end in sight. Now that I had added, at the very least, an extra three hours of travel, the problems I was experiencing were only exacerbated. I was still girl chasing, but now I was more tired and eating more fast food. Worse, I felt belittled and was nowhere close to gaining that promotion. Finally, after 18 months, I transferred to a brand-new theater that cut my travel in half.

Again, I changed locations to give myself more exposure to get a promotion. At this location, I experienced variables that I never had before: burnout and a lack of interest. Because we were opening a new theater, we easily spent 75+ hours a week for two months to get ready. By the time we were open for business, I was over it. I was tired of not having enough help to do my job, which made me look incompetent for the mistakes I made. By the new year, I was exhausted, and I did not know what to do. Six months later, I was officially fired and at the lowest point of my life.

Road of Discovery

After taking two months off to recuperate from my experience, my journey of self-discovery, though at the time I did not realize it, began. During the next 18 months, I worked at Burger King and a local cleaning company. Though not the jobs I desired, these two jobs would help me during a crucial time in my life. I wanted nothing more than to never work in retail ever again because I had been scarred, but because I acquired no other skills I did not have a choice. Therefore, I began acquiring more skills by focusing on three separate areas.

Community, Friends, and Social Challenges

I had never had a community I could trust, so I went searching for one since I finally had time. At my brother's suggestion, I went to a local community center where they had a vibrant young adult community, and I immediately felt accepted. Furthermore, I eventually made friends in that community, which immensely helped my self-confidence. I also made friends at Burger King and the cleaning company. However, I began to see changes in self-awareness when I took on the social challenges I had been so afraid of head-on.

The social challenges I began to take on was updating my wardrobe and understanding myself more, so I could understand why I liked what I liked and acted the way I did. In this case, understanding why I mostly listened to female artists and why I was girl crazy. I am glad that these issues were brought up as it helped me to eventually feel less insecure.

At the time, I had no adequate answers for any of these issues. Now, I have a better understanding of why I acted the way I did. I mainly listened to female artists because it was my closest connection to girls, and I thought the songs were teaching me what girls wanted in relationships. In the same way, I was girl crazy because I did not know myself, thus I wanted a relationship because society and culture made it look attractive.

With the help of friends I made, I was able to start dissecting these issues intentionally. I became more involved in my community, even joining a community of men where we did life together. The community was constructive as I was able to ask many questions. Though I continued to struggle I was now getting feedback, which made me aware of my fatal mistakes. As I stayed with this group, I began to see leadership qualities, a love of reading and learning, and a passion for deep conversations in myself.

Realizing what I was good at slowly but surely gave me confidence. With help, I was able to revamp my wardrobe, which gave me a blueprint moving forward to keep it neat and simple.

With my life beginning to crystalize, I made one of the best decisions of my life to go back to school in January 2017. The journey has been life-changing and as I enter August 2022, I am about to begin my 2nd year of graduate school at Eastern University. The amount of self-awareness I have built up over the past five years has been amazing and therapeutic.

In August 2019, I transferred to Eastern University after obtaining my A.A. degree in General Studies from Harford Community College. And in August 2021, I obtained my B.A. degree in Biblical Studies. I not only felt led to attend this school, but I finally felt free to be myself without the constant influence of family. I was able to have deep conversations about topics that were not always welcome at home. I was able to say what I liked without the fear of being judged. And I was able to build a reliable reputation where I am viewed as capable and mature.

While at this school, I have discovered two of my best friends to date. They allowed me to 100% be myself, which has given me the freedom to critique my music taste openly. I found out that I have a sensitive side that tends to be guided toward more soft and sad types of music. However, I also found that I love rap music too. I like how lyrical the genre is, so I am motivated to listen to how rappers put together lyrics. With this self-knowledge, I have become more focused on building up myself and my interests, so much so that I no longer obsess over girls the way I used to.

I have also maintained the most remarkable friendship I have ever had. When I worked at the local cleaning company after being fired from Regal, I unknowingly met my best friend.

When she first saw me, she immediately saw something special in me, but she realized how raw I was and that I needed work. She never judged me. She never made me feel bad about myself, and she always encouraged me. Having her support means the world to me because she saw me at my lowest, and now, she is seeing me at my best. She has seen the exponential growth in my life, but more importantly, my vast social growth and self-awareness have helped me reach new heights. Right now, our situation is not where I would like it, but I will always be grateful for her, and I hope that we will reconnect in the future.

Self-awareness is an underrated tool, but it is the ultimate guide to self-expression. When used correctly, one can lean into their experiences, build reliable connections, develop a love for learning and curiosity, and grow from prior experiences. If allowed, self-awareness will take one places they never thought they could go.


About the Creator

Justin Higgins

Hey everyone!!! I’m looking forward to being inspired. I have always enjoyed the creative aspect of writing but only recently over the past two years have a seriously started engaging in it. I write short stories & poetry.

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    Justin HigginsWritten by Justin Higgins

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