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When In Doubt, Zoom Out

I'm just back from Canada what a trip.

A lifetime's worth of events and lessons packed into just over three weeks. Most of you reading this won’t have even known we’d been away and so I write this to share part of what this time was able to serve. Our time was mostly spent focussed on family, friends, relaxing, reconnecting but it didn’t quite happen so simply or immediately.

I’m at fault for trying to do too much, figure everything out at once, and place myself into crippling states of overwhelm. I believe this happens to all of us in different degrees we’ve all got things going on. It happens when our pillars are shaky, we lose our focus, and our plates are full. When you’re not quite sure about what you’re doing now, what you’re going to do next, where you’re going,

or what needs done. When we're unable to prioritize, everything can take on emergency level priority. The confusion and disorganization becomes too much.

This is what it felt like during my early days at home.

There was so much at play there is so much at play.

Let’s call this part the stock taking. Where I recount what was happening for me during this time. The storm before the calm, if you will.

  • I was in Dryden, ON the place I’ve forever aimed to escape. This time: retired. This time confronted with “what am I doing” with a real uncertainty around… everything.

  • I failed to take a proper vacation and kept working. Split between LFG and DUDE FKN RELAX.

  • I turned 30.

  • I was without a car because I got into a fender bender on day three and was SO hard on myself. Why is it that when we make a mistake we deem OURSELVES a “fuck up” rather than simply deeming the event a “fuck up”?

  • I was facing feelings of shame and guilt that made my time really hard. My first time home having retired I was ashamed. Lost. There’s so much narrative tied to my “no longer” identity as a hockey player. I went away to become something a something I never became. I return without the fruits of which I left to gather. (I’ve spoken previously about comparing ourselves to an idealized version of yourself... still doing it.)

  • I was scared shitless.

  • I was trying to simplify but didn’t see how to do so while keeping everything going.

  • I was scrambling to maintain daily practices of “inner work” that only made me feel worse. More anxious, more stuck, more stalled.

  • I was pulling away, isolating, crying, sleeping. I just wanted to shut off.

  • I was getting ideas that might spark action but always had a way to talk my way out of it.

  • I was stuck halfway between every single choice I had. “I love this/I hate this”, “Let’s do this/fuck this”, “This is what I want/ I don’t fucking want that.”

  • I felt a sense of panic to see everyone, I left every interaction second guessing myself, feeling like I’d fucked up and said something wrong. This sense of shame that made me want to message people I’d crossed and apologize for something I imagined them taking the wrong way.

Hope and I are talking about family, we’re talking about where we’ll live. Talking about where we’ll shack up for the rest of our lives. I’ve never lived like this. I’ve never had a plan nothing extending the season or the off-season.

And with all this we watched “The Social Dilemma. HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THE SOCIAL DILEMMA?!

The film highlights how social media companies use algorithms to manipulate users and get them addicted to their services.

Great. Now I’m being hard on myself for not only what I’ve done or haven’t done in my first career but now I’m kicking my own ass for both “not being active enough” while at the same time being hard on myself for simply using the platforms to try and build my second career.

I needed a break.

And so I took one.

I put my phone away. I told clients I would take a proper holiday. I got back into the gym having not stepped foot in one for about a week. I stopped “looking under the hood” and overanalyzing everything, I spent loads of time with family in a way that saw I wasn’t rushing all over the place. I started a new round of therapy. I took some pressure off. I had meaningful conversations. I had lightbulb moments. I identified values and strengths that will ultimately guide me through the storm.

And now, have returned to Belfast as my optimism continues to build.

I believe it's normal to feel torn at times. I know that there are so many instances in which there can be multiple truths that depend on one's perception at any given time. I know that if I spend enough time online I'll find someone who can really sell me on a new diet, making me question how I currently eat. I know I'll find somebody emphasizing the importance of rest while the other emphasizes the grind. I know I'll find love and hate, shame and compassion, as well as blame and accountability.

We find these questions hard enough within ourselves without outside influence.

And so if you're stuck like I was, feel like you don't know what to do, aren't sure which truths you're for or against today know that you can sit back, eliminate unnecessary noise, think and speak for yourself, and recruit your team around you to help find clarity.

When in doubt, zoom out.

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1 Comment

Unknown member
Jun 16, 2023

Hey Kevin. Thanks for sharing. On a personal level I can relate to a lot of what you’ve said. I hope you permit yourself time and deal with things one at a time you’re good but not perfect. none of us are

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