My whole life, I have been Mr. Wright. I didn’t realize that I also had the makings of Mr. Right. Okay. Full disclosure: I was married the week after my 20th birthday. I found the one I wanted to make memories with for the rest of my life. I married her. But, my point with this post is that I was on a path from early in my life. The choice to be a “good man” was more than just chance.
I think many women disregard the resume of men and are less than careful of the pools they swim in when wanting to find someone like ME. I think many men nurture unsustainable habits and self-medicating behaviors though they want to become a man like ME. I submit that now is a perfect time to make more sustainable choices.
I decided to recount and project my path if I had continued as a single man until my 40th birthday. My hope is that women, in particular, compare where they frequent, and realize that the places you find yourself may not be where a sustainable mate hangs out. This piece can also be illustrative for men who want to be 40 and successful, but wonder how to get THERE from HERE.
THERE from HERE
At 13, I was telling myself in the mirror, “Give your life to God. Accept Jesus as your personal Savior.” It was a lifestyle change to me. I was “NEVER” going to get into trouble anymore. No more punishments. My mother didn’t have to worry that I would disrespect or disobey. I read my Bible as a habit every morning. These choices taught me that there is a plan for life if you are open to it.
At 15, I was walking home from school because I wanted to play soccer, but didn’t have a ride home without the bus. I had to raise the money for my uniform by getting a job. These choices taught me that I was responsible for what I wanted out of life.
At 17, I was getting ridiculed on the school bus, taunted as “gay” because I didn’t dress in name-brand clothes. As a result of my mother’s habits, I was never concerned about brands, only neatness. Teasing was horrible to endure, but fighting or retaliating would not demonstrate wisdom or self-control. This choice taught me how cruel people could be in their own need, how grown-ups turn a blind eye, AND how much I could take. No name calling has ever bothered me since then.
At 19, I could be found in college either in class, singing in a church, playing computer games, or playing late night “red flag” on the football field. I didn’t know exactly how I would get to my goals, but I knew that college was a safe place to figure it out. This choice taught me that I could balance work and play in sustainable ways.
At 21, I celebrated my birthday by taking my first canoe ride. You could find me looking for an apartment, traveling with a gospel choir, or picking up friends from night classes. It was a time to create lifelong friendships. I didn’t have to prove my adulthood. This choice taught me that the world was larger than my current experience. I was ready for new experiences.
At 23, I graduated with a Master degree. You could find me watching cartoons, playing video games, programming web sites, or writing research papers. This is why I laugh when people say that cartoons and games are evidence of immaturity. With this choice, I learned that play is a more sustainable self-medication for stress, anxiety, and want.
At 25, I was moving from the University where I was working on my doctoral degree. I financed my first house. You could usually find me in the library just exploring new books, online developing flash skills, or playing intramural and church league basketball. I was already steeped in discipline and responsibility. I added some comfort, yet had no furniture in my new home for the next 4 years. This choice taught me the reward of living within my means.
At 29, I was teaching at University and graduating with my doctoral degree. You could normally find me in a community board meeting, volunteering at an after-school program, or working in the studio on music. With my home secured, I was looking to influence my community on a larger scale. I was willing to partner with others who shared my concerns. This choice taught me to be prepared, not just for what the agenda suggests, but to present the vision you have in mind. I always keep a powerpoint on deck.
At 31, I stopped going to traditional church, opting to create an alternative movement maintaining the values while increasing the freedom, integrity, and global reach. You could find me consulting with community boards, attending professional conferences, or vacationing with friends. With this choice, I learned that many people resort to manage how they were managed, teach how they were taught, and parent how they were parented. I decided to present another HOW—another way.
At 35, I was fully committed to my new ministry/social entrepreneurship endeavor. You could find me at “pitch” events, trade shows, community fairs, online blogs, networking luncheons, or the small business incubator. With this choice, I learned that the world is even more complex than I understood. Investment in ideas continues no matter the economy.
At 39, I was nearing the final year of my seven year plan for consistent success. You could find me on Facebook or other social media. You could meet me at a conference, community workshop, or national committee meeting. My mind is constantly on making a difference, leaving a legacy, inspiring the others as I exemplify health, wellness, and prosperity through my lifestyle and my results.
I am 40 now. I have never smoked any of it. I have never drank to calm it down. More than health choices, these mean that I learned to manage my own mental state making intentional choices about my environments and self-medications.
For the ladies: Pick your age, match it with my age on this time line. Ask yourself: “Am I found in the places where a sustainable mate can be found?” If not, determine how you can participate in those environments where “good men” are.
For the gentlemen: Pick your age, match it with my age on the time line. Ask yourself: “Am I spending more time in the types of environments, using the self-medications that support my vision for continued success?” If not, get help to determine a plan for your life. Start spending time in spaces that promote your growth and offer a chance for you to network with other progressive, upward mobile individuals.
I’m not the only guy profile that may be compatible with you. My “type” may not be the guy you are attracted to. But, I have a career and an upward trajectory. I pay my bills on time, and plan for the future of my family. I self-medicate with sustainable choices. I care about the world beyond myself, and I create the interventions that make sense to me.
I’m not Mr. Right. I am not YOUR Mr. Right. But, before I was Dr. Wright, I was Mr. Wright—a young man found on a path toward success. Your task is to find YOURSELF in places where someone like me can find YOU.
[ Michael A. Wright, PhD, LAPSW is a father of two girls and a boy. He is also a 20 year veteran husband. He works as a leadership coach and organization consultant based in Nashville, Tennessee. With over 16 years of experience guiding individuals to their goals, Michael has the techniques and patience to help you succeed. Follow @MAWMedia on Twitter or connect for a consultation at MAWMedia.com ]