Mask off: How the 0:00 Challenge shows the real you

Image provided   by Michaela Carter

Image provided by Michaela Carter

People think they know me through social media or by the people I hang out with or the places I go to, and the biggest lie that I hear all the time is, "Wow! You have your life all planned out!" The idea of perfection people thought I had started to bother me, so I decided to take on the 0:00 Challenge. The 0:00 Challenge encourages people to reflect on their personal struggles and how we have overcome those challenges. I want to share my truth so my friends, family, and readers could get to know the real me, so here goes nothing.

I graduated from Emory University in May 2016 and life seemed like it couldn't be any better. I had an internship that summer, I was living in Atlanta, and had very little responsibilities. Life was "great." I was partying, traveling, and I did whatever I wanted. Everybody thought my life was LIT, but nobody saw that I was engaging in high-risk behaviors, and certainly wasn't telling me I should slow down. This voice in the back of my head was telling me to chill out, but I was enjoying the fast life, running away from growing up and kept trying to relive the past. I was spending money I didn't have, I was spreading myself thin agreeing to do anything for anybody, and the amount of drinking I did was unreal. I felt the pressure to live a life that everybody wanted. Live downtown, always be out in the city, eat amazing meals, and shop every weekend. And when you think the pressure would only come from my peers, it was also coming from my family.

Photography by  Sayer Aseda

Photography by Sayer Aseda

So what does a guy do when he's suffering internally? Keep piling on the lies. I completed my internship and moved back into my parents house, and not even a week goes by and they're asking me how far I was in the process of applying to medical school and which schools I planned to apply to. I kept those lies coming. I was living in the past. I wasn't ready to accept the potential judgment from my friends because I wasn't doing what I initially said I planned to do. I was also afraid my parents would think I wouldn't amount to anything and be disappointed in my decisions.

One day I was updating one of my close friends Marlon Gibson and he saw right through every lie I threw at him. He asked me one question...

"Are you happy?"

I said to myself you can either lie more or you can tell the truth. I'd been so good at crafting this lie that I had everything figured out, I was going to be a successful doctor, and live the life we see on Keeping Up With The Kardashians. But I was tired and wondered how long I could keep this up. So I came out with the truth and told him I'd been keeping up a false image. I was tired of chasing a dream that wasn't mine. I was tired of looking at myself in the mirror and not being happy with the person I saw. Marlon looked at me after consoling me and suggested I get a life coach, and his wife Sheree Gibson just so happened to be starting her own venture in life coaching.

Getting a life coach was the best decision I made in 2017. After working through some of my own frustrations, Sheree helped me focus my energy towards accomplishing my goals. As time went on, our relationship started to grow, I trusted her to give me great direction and I saw how my purpose began to unfold. All of which encouraged me to be more true to myself. I told my parents I wasn't going to medical school, I started to put my needs first instead of my friend's need, and I finally found balance in my life.

The 0:00 Challenge is symbolic of not making time for ME.

I made no time to rest, no time to pursue my big dreams, and certainly no time investing back into myself. I discovered why some of my relationships were unhealthy and why I was unhappy with my life. It's because I was living a lie, but from January 2017, I turned things around and started living in truth. I'm still in the process of growing and learning, but I'm making small steps to achieve happiness in all areas of my life. I slowed down, started listening to that voice in the back of my head, and made decisions that worked for Gavon. Life is a marathon not a sprint.

For more on the 0:00 Challenge visit Michaela Carter's blog, the inspiration behind this post.