I really shouldn’t be, but I’m often surprised by what I see in the mirror.
Who is this older man, staring back, eyes as deep as mine? He looks like me, clearly. But somehow different from the impression I hold inside my mind. He’s older, for a start: as if an unkind CGI artist has reversed the Marvel de-ageing technology and deployed it to devastating effect.
Who is this man? He’s a father. A husband. A son and brother. A friend. He’s a writer—a tag that he once applied reluctantly but has recently started to wear with pride. Committing to a regular writing habit has been one of the biggest drivers of personal transformation over the last few years. Joan Didion, a writer I once knew only of in terms of admiration from other writers I admire—your essayist’s favourite essayist— has permeated herself into my consciousness, her words reverberating into eternity.
“I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means.” I started this newsletter for no one except myself, from the very same headspace that Didion found herself. I started with a promise to write for a year, even if no one read a single word. Even today, I continue to write for myself, a shovel to dig into thoughts running deep, to put pen to paper in an attempt to interrogate myself and my past; to take half-formed musings and do my best to transmute them into a coherent format, enabling me to leave them alone, at least for now, and hoping they might do something for others once they’re out of my head and into your inbox.
On a bad day, Thom’s voice will ring in my head: “You used to be alright. What happened?” But lately, those days are few and far between. I’m more comfortable with who I am today—four decades in—than I’ve ever been. I’ve never disliked my own company, but I am learning to be kinder to myself, less self-critical, and model the behaviours I want my children to internalise. I wear my cracks with pride; they make me who I am today.
As my coaching practice continues, it comes with the pre-requisite that you must be coached yourself, and constantly work on your personal development. “Who am I?” was a question recently raised amongst a group of coaches I am part of. It was a question I have attempted to answer here, and one I invite you to answer too.
As a community, we are over 11,000 wonderful human beings—primarily dads, but not exclusively—spread across 124 countries and all 50 US states. But I want to drill into the details, so today, I ask: who are you? Please introduce yourself: let us know who you are, where you are—in location and life—and, if you’re happy to share, a few of the big questions you’re asking yourself lately. I look forward to reading them all.
I have been pondering this question lately and I am not sure I know the answer. I am in my late 30a and I became a dad to a baby boy a few months ago. My wife had a hard labor with several complications and her mom and I really had to step up and help as much as we can until she felt better (thankfully she is much better now). I love my son and I think I love my wife even more now that we have this extra bond.
Before my son was born, I would have described myself as a curious person, a voracious reader and generally a team player. About a year ago I started playing drums - making a life’s dream come true - but with my wife’s pregnancy progressing, my drum teacher going on a tour and other things, I had to put my drumsticks away - not forever, hopefully - but it was a sad day and every day I find myself missing playing.
Another thing I loved doing is spending time outside. I hate going to the gym so my exercise was going for walks or jogs. We live in the part of the world that allows us to be outside most of the time and which makes spending most of your time inside a bit depressing. With the arrival of our baby, neither my wife nor I have had time to go outside much and I feel worse for it. I am hoping to instill my love for the outdoors into my son (much like my dad did for me) so we can spend time together in a way that is simple, relaxing and restorative.
I am still the same guy - I still read a lot, play air drums, spend a lot of time communicating with my family and thinking of all the cool places I want to take mu boy to. It’ll just take time to get to it all.
Hello, there. As a school psychologist, the writing I most often do is for special education or other evaluation reports. Writing about myself is an indulgence that I rarely get.
By the way, isn't it strange that the first information I offer about myself is what I do to pay the bills? Surely there's more to who I am. But who am I, really?
I am a father to a four-month-old son. Although I miss sleeping, I love the quiet, intimate moments when he's on my lap in the middle of the night. I wonder about how good of a father I am, and I worry about the world my son will inherit with the intensifying effects of climate change.
I am a person who publicly identifies as a "first time dad" even though my wife and I had twins about a year and half ago. The girls were stillborn at 18 weeks. I've been told I'm not a real father until I have a child that survives birth, so I rarely talk about the girls outside of my family.
I am a lover of the outdoors. I feel at home backpacking in the mountains, though my actual home is in the Midwest - nowhere near any mountains. I'm locked in what seems to be an eternal struggle with the various weeds and invasive plants in my yard.
I am a devotee of Arrested Development. It is (and has been) my favorite show. It is the source of numerous jokes and references in my household.
I am an amateur cook. I've never worked in a restaurant or commercial kitchen, but cooking has come to be one of my favorite activities. It's a way for me to be creative and show love for my family.
So, who am I? Just a dad who's trying his best.