Struggled to get a good pic before bath time, but enjoyed spending Valentine’s Day with two very special little girls and swapped a “C-Note” priced dinner and romance for McDonalds and bedtime stories.– My Valentines 2019
I hope I set a precedent today and every day of unconditional love to my daughters. Historically, I’d use this holiday to write some mushy-gushy romantic stuff that’s too “extra” for most of the other days on the calendar, but this year in addition to spending it with my daughters, I am just taking this opportunity to reflect on the journey of self-love and improvement I’ve been enjoying.
Often, this blog will take on a slightly inappropriate and exaggerated persona of bro humor; however, I with this post I wanted to get raw and authentic. It has been that journey, after all, that encouraged me to launch this blog as both a place to share my thoughts on improving as a man while also having a little carefree fun along the way.
For the most part, lately, I’ve put “swiping right” on hold to focus on myself and some of my personal ambitions – some of which would be a weird flex to share but that I’m super proud to have accomplished these past few months. Sometimes, I reflect on the perceived selfishness of some of my goals, but remind myself that ultimately the decisions I make today are laying a foundation of my life “tomorrow” to be a valuable partner, loved dad, and not just a lesser liability to society, but a self-sufficient and contributing member to the betterment of that society.
Some of my goals were certainly financial, but most of the goals for better loving myself were educational, and one involved turning more pages of books rather than flipping through channels. I had objectives of stepping further outside my comfort zone, attempting to meet exercise goals amidst a horrible infection, exchanging late nights socializing with new people in the East Village and Court Avenue with making sure I was getting adequate sleep, doing a better job of eating an actual breakfast instead of grabbing a Hostess, and one of my biggest goals lately was ensuring I didn’t forget to satisfy my need to recharge in introversion so I didn’t exhaust myself in extroverted situations.
I became so enamored with going out, making experiences, and expanding my network that I neglected that living my best life might actually require me to embrace the other introverted side of my personality by saying to others and myself “Nah, I just need to stay in and be reclusive tonight“.
I’ve learned that sometimes the most selfless thing we can do is be a little bit selfish, for our value to others is greater when we better value ourselves.
Being empathetic, thoughtful, and supportive is great, but don’t forget about yourself!
It’s okay to be a little selfish!
- It is why parents deserve a vacation without the kiddos just as much as the children ought to enjoy sharing in family adventures.
- It is the justification for why it is okay to balance our children’s extra-curricular activities while ensuring we aren’t entirely sacrificing our own hobbies that give us identities as individuals above and beyond being a parent.
- It is the basis for why it isn’t selfish to tell your friends you would rather stay in and nerd out on PlayStation this weekend and it is the core of why it is healthy to tell your spouse you need some time with the girls/guys.
- It is why we can generously love each other and grow with respect and appreciation for the things the people we love enjoy without necessitating that we conform to their interests absolutely or surrender to them what makes us uniquely ourselves – it is after all in our mysterious differences as much in our aligned similarities that people find each other attractive.
And it is why after spending hours perusing racks of dresses for my daughter and entirely expecting to spoiler her with a budget-busting outfit, I ended up reeling it in and ultimately settled on something more reasonable so I could stop at Halberstadt’s and pick up a matching blue tie and both look our best at the Princess & Papa Ball Saturday. It is situations like this that I often begin to debate myself in my mind and that I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating an identity of selfishness or stinginess.
I have to end up grounding myself in the reality of my motivations and that what is sacrificed today is deferring to a more rewarding future for them tomorrow.
My 6-year old won’t care if she has a $60 dress or $200 dress, she will love every moment of that dance, but as a 40-year-old she will remember if her dad spent the vast majority of his life as a confident, happy person who made decisions that allow the last years of his life to be just as enjoyable as they are when she was 6.
Financial advisors would hardly find this to be a problem and seeking financial security is not inherently greedy; however, even the best of habits can be addictive and ultimately damaging. What I’ve been working through for myself is this somewhat unhealthy and vicious cycle of a mindset where I’ll constantly be suggesting to myself, for example, that if I don’t buy a Ford Mustang this year I can afford a nicer one next year. Yet, the calendar rolls over and the cycle continues. I’ll think, I don’t really need a Mustang at all and think of all the stuff I could do with that money (and yet never follow through). So I’ve been doing a lot of work improving on balancing an allocation toward entrepreneurial goals in a way that doesn’t sacrifice experiencing what life has to offer with what I’ve already accomplished.
It might seem petty, but it is hard for me to draw those lines sometimes in a manner that can turn a positive into a negative and so I have to remind myself two things:
- I can go my entire life pondering over building a twin-turbo Mustang or wake up one day, realize life is hella short and buy the damn car.
- And secondly, as long as I’m meeting my obligations in life, then seeing the world, splurging a bit, and being rationally hedonistic on occasion doesn’t detract from putting my children first in life. Putting some priority on my own dreams and ambitions don’t somehow mean I’m not putting a priority on my children, because ensuring my own happiness goes a long way to encouraging theirs.
When Tabitha (my oldest) arrived, it was like my brain was immediately rewired and the motivations for my actions changed.
- When you have kids, contributing money into an IRA isn’t just about retiring on the beach, it is about not being a burden to your children’s future and reliant on insufficient or potentially non-existent social safety nets.
- Getting healthy becomes less about impressing others and more about living to share a long life with those you love.
- Saving cash isn’t about building that twin-turbo Cobra, it is about liquidity in times of hardship, helping two little girls finance their way to higher education, and giving away two future brides without them stressing about the cost of saying “yes, to the dress”.
- Enjoying a Saturday night in more often isn’t so much about waking refreshed without a hangover and more so about showing my daughters that the stress of the week can be resolved with a family movie night and popcorn beyond a reliance on washing weekly stress away with a rum and coke.
But most importantly, spending Valentines this year is not about sulking in loneliness and spoiling myself with the chocolates I would rather gift to someone else, but rather showing these two little girls that they are so worth loving, that they already have a mom and dad who love them unconditionally, and we have everything we already need so we don’t need to be impatient and desperate for Cupid to work his magic. We want to embrace patience and happily support ourselves until just the right woman comes along, that not only makes me happy but that I’ve verified is everything these two little girls deserve as a motherly figure under my roof as well. Until then, I’ll be here striving to love her before maybe I’ve even met her by trying to be the best absolute version of myself I can be for her.
And that’s my mushy-gushy Valentine’s post as a single dad this year who is loving where he is at in life.
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