Some people say that writing with honesty and transparency takes courage. Many have said, “Mike, I wish I were courageous enough to put myself out there like you do.” I disagree.
I’m honest because I’m a coward.
You see, I lived as you now live, only my experience was more pronounced. Like you, I was not true to myself or the the world. I lived a double life.
I was the first person in his family to graduate college, and my grades were good enough to get me a scholarship to law school. Golden child.
Then I got a call from a police detective. A girl I had had sex with had some unpleasant things to say about me. Would I go in and “clear up the misunderstanding” with this friendly police detective?
Golden child. Accused rapist. Double life.
The evidence against me was too weak to bring a charge. There was no physical evidence of force, as the sex was consensual. What’s more, the girl’s best friend was in the room the whole time we had sex. She was unwilling to cooperate with a sham prosecution.
I packed my car up to drive to California for law school. I had done everything right. I had followed the rules. It was time to live the life I deserved to live.
Just because a case is weak doesn’t mean it won’t be filed. The investigation hovered over my head like the sword of Damocles.
I’d be sitting in class when the noise of a walkie-talkie would startle me. “They’re coming to get me.” My head would race. “I’m going to be arrested in front of everyone.”
My classroom and work performance was erratic. I’d go from brilliant one second to off the grid the next. One concerned boss called me into her office. “Are you on drugs? I can get you help.”
I wasn’t on drugs. I was living a double life.
Golden child. Accused rapist. What will happen when everyone finds out?
The stress was too much. I would have panic attacks and crippling anxiety.
Eventually I got my life in order. I learned how to cope with the stress. I used tactics now known as Gorilla Mindset to succeed while facing adversity. I earned the highest class grades in the most competitive classes and worked as a research assistant to some big name professors.
Yet I still lived a lie.
“Michael, Judge ____________ is looking for a judicial clerk. I told her you’d be perfect for the job. Why don’t you send me your resume to pass along,” one of these big name professors emailed me. I didn’t reply.
“Michael, so-and-so is running for governor. You’d be perfect for his legal team.” I replied with some bullshit excuse.
People who wanted to help me couldn’t understand why I turned down prestigious offers.
I was afraid to tell them, “I’ll fail the background check.”
What I feared most is what you fear most.
I was afraid of being discovered, of being exposed.
You’re afraid people will expose you, that they will find out you’re a fraud, that your most vulnerable moments will be put on public display. You hide from your boss at work. You’re afraid he’ll see you reading DangerAndPlay.com.
You hide from your parents. They tell you to go to college, to be a good little boy who gets a good job and settles down with a nice girl. You are afraid to tell them that you refuse to settle, that your life belongs to you and not them.
You hide from yourself. You don’t care to admit to yourself that you are living a lie, that you are being untrue to yourself, and that you’re afraid to seek out your life purpose.
Embrace your inner coward.
I fall asleep every night without any fear. I can’t wake up to a crisis. Someone is hating on me on the Internet? What’s to say? What can they expose?
Can they say I was accused of rape? (I beat the charge. I always win in the end.) Or that as an adult man I had to talk the power guy out of turning off the electricity?
Can they say I had panic attacks and depression and was obese?
At work, I goof off on the Internet. There is no fear, as I am honest with my boss (myself).
I’ve been spotted several times in public. Sometimes I’m bigger, sometimes I’m beat up. There are no photoshopped pictures, no false image of perfection.
Embrace your inner coward. Take the jump. Start telling the truth.
Start by telling the truth to yourself.
Are you afraid to take a risk because of the “inner judge,” those nagging negative voices in your head that say you aren’t good enough, that you don’t have what it takes to succeed?
Expose yourself to yourself.
Who do you really want to be? What are you really afraid of? Are you afraid to become the man you want to be?