2017 was one of those years for me. Emotionally and physically I went through it. From getting sick early in March to battling with the sickness for the rest of the year put me on a rollercoaster ride I did not expect going into the year. I had aspirations that 2017 would be the year that I got back on track physically. Let’s just say that did not happen.

2017 was the year I learned a lot about myself. Through sickness, self-reflection, dealing with anxiety, making some poor decisions and going through counseling for a few months I was finally able to connect some dots and answer some questions I always had. For one, I am not as crazy as I thought I was! That’s a relief. πŸ™‚

As a man and as an athlete, I was taught to fight through my emotions, not to feel, just tough it out and if you do feel it means you are soft. Years and years I suppressed my feelings. In tough pressure like moments, I would resort back to childlike behaviors and coping mechanisms that are quite frankly, not healthy. I never knew why I would resort back but I’ve learned this is what the brain does when it does not know new healthy ways to deal with problems.

Old habits will take you down. Learn what your bad habits are.

This is what I am doing. Learning about myself. Learning who God has created me to be. Learning to live out and believe who God says I am. Learning to love others the way they should be loved. Learning new healthy habits that will continue to transform my life. Essentially, I am learning how to SOAR!

As I entered into my 30’s in 2017, I had a lot of chances to reflect back on my life. One thing I realized is I beat the statistics that are held against young African American men that are raised in low socioeconomic environments. I have a High School, Associates, Bachelors and Masters Degree. I am married. I’ve taught at a Community College for three years. I became a licensed pastor at 26. I coached high school basketball and I serve as a mentor to many.

I have a lot to celebrate and to be grateful for. I have zero reasons to hold my head down. I have zero reasons to beat myself up over my past. As a 30 year old young man, I still have a lot of life to live, a lot to see, a lot to learn and a lot of people to impact. God willing of course.

The person who stops learning. Stops growing.

Each year I pray for a theme entering into a new year. For several months I’ve been dwelling and thinking on SOAR. Here is the acronym that I will be praying and working through for 2018. (Adapted from an interview I listened to)

S – Strong

O – Observant

A – Aspiring

R –  Resilient

The strongest thing I have ever done is realizing just how weak I really am and from there reaching out to receive the help I need. To be observant means to slow down, to get to know yourself, to ask others for feedback and to keep a pulse on where you are emotionally, physically and spiritually. To be aspiring means to live the life God has designed for you. To be resilient means to not give up on hope when life gets challenging. It means to look at the mountain(s) in your life and realize that this climb you are being faced with is ready to help you grow.

I pray as we enter into 2018 that we will continue to move forward, we will continue to love God more, ourselves and others. 2017 gave me some great punches but thank God I have another round to go. Here’s to 2018!

What are you most excited about for 2018? Share in the comments below!

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