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2022 Yearly Review: Losing to Win

“The only real test of intelligence is if you get what you want out of life.” – Naval Ravikant

Every year I try to track my life through monthly themes.

The process is relatively simple – I pick two weaknesses that I feel like need to work on and I give those two themes a little more attention each month.

At the beginning and end of the month, I write down my thoughts on the process.

I started doing this halfway through 2019.

I did it completely in 2020.

I missed a few months in 2021.

I only managed to do two months in 2022.

Funny enough, I felt as if I ruined my yearly tradition by not reflecting…but that is something I felt last year as well. This is a pattern I fall into. I noticed this when I wrote the following passage:

A painful anxiety throughout the year was knowing that I was going through my days, my most valuable days, with very little reflection. Perhaps I practiced reflection more than the average person I interacted with, but no where near enough that myself or my family deserved. I knew that I would have to write a yearly reflection, but I did not have my themes. I felt like since I was not keeping up with my old structure, I had lost the ability to reflect upon the year. How silly. But such a real struggle for me.

The most useful part of reflection is noticing these patterns in me that are clearly delusional and self destructive. So I recognize the pattern and move forward. Keeping with the reflecting as much as I can with the intention to extract value where I can.

This year I lost heavily. I had to let go of many things in order to win in the ways that actually mattered.

This year felt like I was in The Monkey Trap.

I felt like the monkey who won’t let go of the banana even if it means freeing themselves from a trap.

I was caught up in holding on to my goals and beliefs so tightly that I was stuck in a trap of my own creation.

I’m grateful to say that I have learned the value of letting go of my previous desires to obtain the freedom to pursue new ones.

This year I didn’t blog, make music, content, exercise, build business, play video games nearly as much as I wanted to, but I was able to do something more.

I was able to be a father and a pillar in my community. Both of which require more than I believed I could provide.

I was upset when I saw my streaks dying, month after month of not creating, not dedicating my time to myself – but then I would have moments when I’m with my daughter and I can see her getting older and growing before my eyes.

I realized that those moments are the most valuable and no matter what I was pursuing. Any earthly goal that I could conceive would be just to reach these moments that I already have.

I felt guilt because I have not accrued mass wealth, but that would have just been to spend time with my children anyway.

So this post will be a way for me to reflect upon another just as eventful and meaningful year.

All journal entries are in italics and my comments from today follow CM:

January – Vision & Patience

Beginning of the Month:

I’m trying to reflect, but it’s hard to find time. Any time that I do have to myself is usually when I am extremely tired. I’m still “cursed” with my need to be productive, so I’ve been keeping any progress I make in my head. For example, I only had a few minutes to write this reflect so I did the majority of the “reflecting” while I was desperately trying to stay awake feeding my daughter. After all, most of writing is thinking. But that got me realizing, that I do not necessarily need to have dedicated time to work on a project, I just need to dedicate my thoughts to it. That is what I’m trying to practice with vision. I want to be better able to tap into my ability to create and sustain a vision. Perhaps this will be able to give me the progress I so desperately crave. As for patience, this is a common theme for me. I want everything done yesterday, I don’t know why. I want all my business ideas and creative projects to be finished. If I work on patience, I will find what I’m looking for. At least, that’s the plan. Last year, being patient was exactly what I needed to be. Despite patience being a frequent compliment that I receive, I don’t feel like I am a patient person at all.

CM: This was an omen for how the year was going to go. I definitely not not find the time to reflect for a large portion of this year and I felt it weighing on me every day. Interesting how many of the thoughts I had then are similar to the thoughts I have now. Perhaps lack of reflection keeps us stick in the same loops, until we realize our way out of them.

End of the Month:

It’s hard doing these themes without having the themes in my face on a regular basis. Usually, I would have the themes written on a whiteboard in my room so I could see them, but just holding them in Notion isn’t the business. I didn’t check my themes for the entire month and tbh I forgot about them. However, taking the time to think about the last month and how I’ve worked on my vision and patience has shown me that I haven’t fell off the path completely. I’d like to think I’m improving when it comes to my patience. When I’m at work, I’m more patient with my students and with myself too. Sometimes I trip, but I like to think I’m getting a little better. When it comes to vision, I think it’s interesting that I chose it because I had a hard time maintaining the bigger picture this last month. It’s like I knew that I was going to be caught up in the rise and grind of being a teacher intern while getting my masters while doing the EdTPAs. It’s been tough, but every now and again I remember the vision and I keep chugging a lot….because what else can I do. It’s okay to feel the way I’ve been as long as I remember that it is all in service to something greater.

CM: Oh, I’ve been done with my Master’s degree for a while and I forgot how bad the grind was. This was a tough time. Every minute had to be planned and executed perfectly or the “house of cards” would fall. I’m so happy to be past that now. I was hyper aware of my streaks and reflection habits dying. It’s a shame that it got the best of me. EdTPAs were trash and a half.

February – Resilience & Gratitude

Beginning of the Month:

This month I need to work on my resilience and gratitude. Manly because the thought of improving either seems sickening. Resilience because I’m entering an extremely tough portion of my program: I’m working on the EdTPAs, while teaching, while working on my masters, while being a relatively new father. Plus, it’s not like I’m just trying to do all of these things in a half assed sort of way, I’m trying to be bomb at all of these. (Maybe except the EdTPAs). As for gratitude, even thought I practice it every morning, it’s been tough to be grateful for my circumstances. I’m sure I need a perspective shift, but I also feel like that doesn’t take away from the burden and rigor of what I am going through. Nonetheless, I’m going to work on my gratitude and hope my misery lessens. Maybe this is all just what it’s like to be a student again. I feel like I’ve been in grad school long enough to lose sight of the “fun” to role-play a student and battle test my ideas. I’ve been able to learn a lot, but it’s also taking a toll on me physically and mentally.

CM: Definitely true. What is funny about this post is I had a few people ask how to better practice gratitude throughout the year. LOL.

End of the Month:

nothing written

CM: This was when I clearly hit my breaking point. I stopped pretty much everything that I believed was worth doing. I was able to do some things over the year, but February was when it primarily stopped. I guess I did improve both of these themes now that I am reflecting on them in December. Even though I may pay attention to my growth and development more than the average person, I did not feel as if it was enough for me to have net growth over the year in these specific domains.

Since years are much longer than 2 months and I had quiet a bit happen this year that I want to reflect on a few key moments that stick out when I think back on what influenced me most this year.


This year I had an event that distinctly marked my transformation from my role in my childhood family to father of my primary family.

It was painful, but necessary. The loss of one life, to gain a new and better life. Since this is a public post, I am not going to go in detail. However, it was extremely important for me to go through this time. It showed me the importance of a boy accepting his responsibility to protect, provide, and become a valuable man.

It was also an experience to live out the wisdom that I have recently learned. The specific story escapes me, but the archetypical biblical story of moving out of tyranny to get to the promise land is as real as can be. After escaping tyranny, one would expect to get to the promise land, but that isn’t the case. You end up in a desert. Upon faith and perseverance, you can find a path through the hostile and barren land into the promise land where you can enjoy everything you have prayed for in your darkest times.

As unlikely as that story seems true…it is. It was the narrative that got me through the desert and into my promise land.

In the desert, I effectively was separated from my daughter, fell into homelessness, all while still working on my degree.

These were some of the darkest and challenging times of my life. Unfortunately, that itself is an extremely loaded statement. I compromised on many of my values and had to act counterintuitive to my intentions in order to move out of this space. I had to let go of my previous beliefs in order to move forward. The Monkey Trap again.

Fortunately, we were able to find and rent an apartment to give us stable shelter until we were able to enter the relatively highly guarded world of homeownership. (This was not something I knew was going to happen until mid December) This was not by accident. The timing was remarkable, but it was also after years of preparing for this.

After this dark time, I was reunited with my daughter.

Never again will I be involuntarily separated from her. Since she was so young, when she saw me again, I could tell I was a stranger to her. That was a heartbreaking experiencing. Thankfully now, she sees me as her secondary caregiver and trusts me to protect her when surrounded by unknowns. The pain parents feel when they want to be with their children but cannot is excruciating. I cannot imagine losing a child permanently.

On a lighter note, I was able to go on my first work sponsored strip to San Diego to be trained as an AVID teacher.

This was super cool to see teachers developing themselves to be the best educators they can be. Most were like this, some where there because their school mandated them to be. During the training sessions, I realized that my insights and perspectives were valuable even to the teachers who have been around the block a few time (20+ years of experience). I could even see the educators who were there because they had to enjoyed my insights. More evidence that I need to share my thoughts. Training teachers is something I am capable of doing despite my minimal of formal experience.

This was also lovely because I got to develop deeper relationships with my co-workers and take my daughter to the city where her mother and I met. Seeing her by the rooftop poolside was a sight I would have worked my whole life to see.

I finished my Master’s degree in Education.

This was no doubt extremely difficult. If I was any less of the man, or scholar, that I see myself to be, I would not have been able to complete this. This moment meant a few different things to me.

I used it as an opportunity to share my accomplishments with others to see who would be happy for me when I win. The results were surprising to say the least. The people who knew me the least were happiest for me. The people who knew me the most could not have cared less. Shocking and painful. Despite the negative emotion, I noticed that may be why I do not care to celebrate my wins.

This was starkly obvious to me when my students asked me why I don’t hang my degrees in my room. The honest answer was because I learned to not care about my accomplishments. At least, not a petty Master’s degree in Education.

Despite the other insights, this was an important step in legitimizing my claim to disseminate educational information to the public. I know I don’t need a degree for that, but my super-ego says I do and hopefully this prevents any subconscious blockages.

First escrow fail, second escrow succeeded.

Pretty much this. We were in escrow for condo which fell through. That was heartbreaking. I also see why so many people get turned off by Real Estate. It was an ugly experience for me, but I know RE Investing can be extremely lucrative if I can get the system down right. The second escrow for a bigger and better house is going through and is a much better experience than the last.

After the first deal busted, I was ready to not enter homeownership for years, if not decades more. But, we kept faith and perseverance and now we are ending this year with a stark juxtaposition for the beginning.

A new year of develop relationships with students and sinking my teeth deeper into teaching.

As a second year teacher, I was nervous when the school year started because I had to start over making connections with all the students again. I found myself missing my classes from last year because the connections made the job palatable. This year, I’m discovering 160 new relationships and it is just as meaningful, fun, and challenging as last year.

This job renews every year. It is painful, but rewarding. I still frequently get gifts and complements which is so damn gratifying I can’t put words to it.

I had the wonderful privilege of starting an Investment club on campus where I teach students principles of personal finance and investing after school. This has created a community on campus that has improved the experience of many of the students who participate.

I was able to be a judge for the science and engineering fair. As lame as it might seem to work extra duty on a Friday, I found it to be an important experience for me. I needed to witness more proof that I am clearly in a different place in society. The fact that I was called upon for my science expertise is mind blowing to me. Although that is exactly what a chemistry teacher is in society, but to see that it can stretch beyond the classroom was important for me. Especially being on a journey to prove to myself that I can adequately provide useful and valuable information.

I had my first date with Kyra after becoming parents.

I cannot express the importance of date nights for two people who are rearing children. In order to be a good parent, one must be a good partner. Spending quality time to rediscover and tend to the flames that started the fire is crucial for a stable and happy family.

Plus it was a lot of fun living like we didn’t have kids for a bit. (Funny enough, we spend most of the night talking about our daughter). We didn’t do anything crazy. We just saw a lecture from a professor. Classic Chris and Kyra entertainment.

The discovery of a lifetime – ANOTHER baby girl is on the way.

Everything from my Becoming a Parent blog post, but X2.

How beautiful it is to be blessed with another daughter. Especially when she is the result of love. I am so excited for the privilege and honor of raising up another beautiful and strong woman for this world. Lord knows we need it. I’m so excited to meet my little girl.

However, this was another Monkey Trap. I realized that I had to lose my expectation of having a son. It’s becoming unlikely that I will have another kid and I confronted the fact that I was addicted to the pride I had in my name. I had to accept that the impact I have on the world does not have to be associated with the name Mukiibi.

While this may seem trivial to many, for me it was intense and difficult to let go. I had to untangle the idea that my pride in my family name was tied up with the love I had for my father and that this pride was a large motivational force in my life. This pride was far more responsible for the majority of my accomplishments than the other qualities that I believed I had. Entertaining the idea that Pride being one of the seven deadly sins, but also the source of many of my accomplishments was difficult. Realizing it was true made me want to vomit.

It’s becoming more likely than not that the name will not carry on. Realizing this loss made room for the love that I will need to properly father my newest daughter, but also allowed me to use virtue and intention as guiding stars for my future endeavors.


Despite the challenges of the year, this has been one to remember. This year was pivotal to my life and my development as well as my family. This was the year so many of my dreams seemed within my reach. I’m excited to see what 2023 will bring.

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On Becoming a Parent

“The greatest burden a child must bear is the unlived life of the parents.”

Carl Jung

“Happiness comes from suffering. There is no happiness in comfort.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky

In the last year, I had the fantastic privilege to undergo the transformation of a lifetime.

I became a parent.

When I found out I was going to be a father, I had a massive rush of emotions. At the time, I was absorbing as much information as I could so I could find something that resonnated with me.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve felt like if I can’t find my feelings in something external to me, there is a chance I could be losing touch.

I also had this buzzing voice of anxiety in the back of my head saying “if I can’t capture this emotion, then I will ruin my child.” (The first of many transformations)

I desperately wanted to find something that explains what I was feeling, but I couldn’t.

Everything I found on parenting, from books to videos to people, didn’t quite explain what I was going through.

The clichès like “everything changes” or “it will never be the same” wasn’t enough for me. I needed something that fully captured my experiences, or at least pointed to them.

Becoming a parent is a transformation that so many people experience and probably the most important transformation of our lives. I was frustrated that I couldn’t find something that explains this widespread and significant experience.

So I do what I always do when I’m frustrated.

Create.

In high school if I was feeling a certain way and couldn’t find a song that expressed my feelings, then I could write one.

Today I couldn’t find an essay, book, lecture, or anything that captures my experience of becoming a parent.

So I am going to write it myself.

I’m hoping this post does a few things:

1) ensure my sanity

2) helps other people in the process of becoming a parent. I hope others can find themselves in my experience and discover that they aren’t alone.

3) gives my kid(s) some guidance if (God forbid) I cannot give it myself.

(Another of many transformations) I realized that all my actions help create a world that my children will inherit. It is critical that I share my lessons and experiences in a way that is relatively easy to understand so that they may spend their finite time and energy blazing new trails while standing on my shoulders rather than relearning and unlearning pathologies through trial and error.

This first section I wrote during Kyra’s pregnancy. They included my thoughts and lessons in an effort to track my transformation.

Before the Birth

All my life I put pressure on myself to be a better person especially for my unborn children.

That was a common axiom that underscored the majority of my motivations for as long as I can remember.

Every time I went through a terrible experience, I would think “my kids will never have to go through this.”

An experience I’m sure many people can sympathize with.

Coming to Terms with Limitations

I have just discovered I am becoming a parent, and for the first time, I realized that I am who I am.

The person who will raise my children is the person I am now, in all my glory and tragedy.

This was wildly uncomfortable, to say the least.

I realize that this is the same with my parents, all parents. They were equally as flawed and broken when they had me. Children tend to have high expectations of their parents, and view them as godlike, especially in their younger years.

But I see now that they are just people, who have become parents.

They, like all other parents, are human beings with dreams unrealized and unresolved trauma yet to be discovered.

I had to confront all of my ridiculous standards and insecurities, and admit they were ridiculous.

I had to accept that I was not where I wanted to be in life and there was a good chance that my parents weren’t either.

This has given me a new compassion and understanding for all parents.

Becoming a parent has been a massive coming to terms with my own flaws and limitations.

It’s painful to know that my child will have to endure my sins and share in a life that I, reluctantly admit, am not completely proud of.

This truth often brings me to tears.

This life, for better or worse, is both of ours now. So I will do my best to move forward with the proper attitude and congruent actions. I will strive to create a life that I am proud of and happy to share with my child.

For many years, I lived my life as if it is of little consequence and now I must confess, atone, and realize my potential. If I don’t, then it is my child I must answer to.

This is a game where I can’t pretend that I don’t care.

I do. Immensely.

Although this coming to terms with self is deep and intense, I have received wisdom, clarity, and compassion of equal or greater magnitude. I suspect, if a person is attentive and self-aware, then they’ll undergo a similar transformation upon becoming a parent.

Accepting Extreme Vulnerability

Part of this transformation is accepting vulnerability. This is vulnerability beyond any level that I have ever known. I knew it existed intellectually, but it is humbling to experience it for myself.

It’s difficult to accept this vulnerability, especially as a man. I’ve spent so much time and energy learning how to be “tough” and in the times that I grew up, that meant not being vulnerable.

Now, I must unlearn that nonsense and willingly accept that what I care most about in the world can be easily harmed.

I have to accept that I have an undeniable weak point.

When I was younger, I used to pretend like I didn’t care as a technique to limit vulnerability.

I tricked many people into thinking that I didn’t care about a lot of things, but most importantly, I tricked myself.

Now there’s no denying that I care. No hiding in the dark.

I have a theory that parents who abandon their children, specifically fathers, cannot accept this extreme vulnerability. The massive responsibility plays a role too, but I believe the vulnerability is more difficult to cope with.

It’s hard to welcome this feeling, but I must if I am to properly welcome my daughter.

I cannot both fully love my daughter and reject the vulnerability that comes with it.

The beginning of bonding starts with being vulnerable.

Accepting vulnerability makes you alive.

Unlocking New Levels of Will

I always had a sense that there was more that I had to offer than what I was already putting out. Most days I convinced myself that I was giving my all, but I always had a little voice that said I could do more.

Now I can say that that little voice was right.

I love breaking through self-perceived limitations, but becoming a parent gives me a whole new idea of what it means to push myself.

It has given me a new sense of what is possible.

It’s like in the hero’s journey, the hero must tap into a more profound strength that they didn’t know existed. Becoming a parent feels the same way.

No one will love this child as much as I do, and certainly, no one will sacrifice as much as I will for her.

Regardless, the tasks must be done which means they must be done by me.

No exceptions.

I feel like I captured my feelings relatively well in this journal entry that I wrote in February 2021, the month of discovery. I published this in my 2021 Yearly Review.

This month I was thrown for the biggest loop of my life and I lost sight of my themes for a while. Despite the turbulence, Leadership and Persistence have definitely been developed. The new information I got this month unlocked a new level of everything inside of me. While I was trying, half-assed I admit, to develop myself in leadership and persistence, this new jolt has given me everything I need to be an effective leader. Not just of a company, not just of my life, but of my family’s life as well. I’ve also learned how to push myself much further than my perceived capacities. I’ve accomplished things this month I never thought I could. Again I’ve been confronted with the impossible and again I contend with it. This time it is voluntary, and this time the stakes are high. In this case, I have accessed something much deeper than mere persistence. It’s like I have direct access to the fire of humanity inside myself. I am reborn. I was worried that I was going to lose my ability to write and be creative through the new changes, but now I see that staying connected to them in the midst of the chaos is what will enrich life further. I can see I am even more capable of what I was capable of before. It is almost like constraints allow us to access more of our potential, but only after a certain time. I don’t want to be too specific in this entry in case I make it public, but I’m happy with the developments I’ve made over the years and I’m excited to see where this takes me.

The bolded section of this entry really highlights what I was feeling at the moment.

Everyone has heard stories of mothers lifting entire cars to save their children.

Now I can see that those are not fairy tales, but testaments to the strength of the Human Will when fueled by the love for their children.

Excitment & Fear

I’m not sure which I feel the most. Excitement because I cannot wait to see and meet the combination of my love (Kyra) and myself. I desperately want to know which parts of each of us that she will manifest. I want to know her interests and personality. I want to know everything about her.

But at the same time.

I don’t want my life as a childless person to end. Honestly, I love only having to think about myself and I’m scared that I won’t be able to properly consider my daughter’s needs.

I’m worried that I won’t be enough for her. I’m worried that my blind spots are catastrophic and my trauma responses are unregulated. I’m worried that I won’t be able to properly provide and protect. I’m worried that she won’t let me love her.

I’m worried that I won’t be a good enough father.

I’ll flip between these two states multiple times per hour. It’s exhausting and vitalizing.

I don’t know which is more true but I do know that contrary experiences capture the complexity of the human-animal.

Pay Attention to Aims

If this experience has taught me anything, it’s that you get what aim for. To be frank, I didn’t feel like I was ready to have kids. (Looking back, I don’t think anyone feels ready to have kids. If they say they are, but don’t have kids or aren’t trying, then they probably can’t fathom the depths of their ignorance.)

I wouldn’t call my current lifestyle the ideal situation for having kids either.

But part of me wanted to have a family of my own more than anything in the entire world. I would say that the most honest and vulnerable part of me wanted this, and that’s what exactly I got.

If we’re honest enough, we can see that we make choices that lead us to where we want to go.

While I thought I believed I wanted a life of adventure, immense wealth, and travel, but my actions rarely depicted this.

I spent a ton of time developing my relationship with Kyra so that we can create a strong foundation to build a healthy and happy family. I spent even more time learning how to share ideas and becoming reliabile.

I’m sure if I was able to break down the hours of my life, I can see that I spent way more time watering this garden than anywhere else in my life. This is probably because the most authentic part of me was aiming for having a family of my own.

I learned to be extremely mindful of what I want and what my actions are working towards. If I’m not, then I get hit with “surprises.”

Funny enough, I would have many conversations with Kyra where I would complain that I was frustrated because the problems I had in my life weren’t “age-appropriate.” I certainly got what I was aiming for. Now I have all the “age-appropriate” problems I could ever ask for.

Looking back, I was so foolish for being upset about that.

The Death of The Boy

In order to become a good father, I must not be a boy. Like every young man, learning how to become a man has always been a high priority.

Now that I am a father, I have no excuse to act like a child…a boy.

The boy is not fit to be a father because he can only think of himself.

He cannot participate in asymmetrical relationships. Parenting, if anything at all, is an asymmetrical relationship.

I must voluntarily take on responsibilities.

I must be strong and formidable.

I must be reliable and trustworthy.

I must be honest, productive, and generous.

I must be selfless and patient.

A boy cannot properly take on this role without also causing destruction.

The first three days, in particular, were difficult. I felt the boy die within me and a rebirth of a new man take shape in my soul. This is as violent and majestic as a phoenix combusting and rising from the flames. I felt parts of my burn off and the tighter that I held on, the more it hurt.

I had to let go.

I had to accept that I was transforming, and it was permanent.

The death of Chris the Boy made room for Chris the Father.

Since I found out about the pregnancy, all the deadwood, so to speak, had to burn off. All the perceived ideas of who I am and who I want to be had to die. It’s not easy to let go of yourself, but in order to become a parent, it’s necessary. I’m sure this is partly why so many people, men, and women, cannot rise to the occasion.

Confronting Latent Insecurities and Fears

I feel like in order to transform I must overcome the challenge of becoming the worst parts of both of my parents, a fear that I’ve had for a long time.

I’ve seen many people mindlessly repeat the patterns they saw in their parents which produces the same results they had.

While my parents were far from the worst, they are plenty of things they did that I do not plan on repeating with my daughter. I’m not going to outline them here, but the generational trauma stops with me.

The Crushing Responsibility

I heard someone say that being a parent is a crushing responsibility, and in some ways it is.

But this is not a bad thing.

But one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned over the last few years is that responsibility gives life meaning. When we are responsible for something, we operate on a higher level. We become more resilient and can withstand conditions that would have otherwise ended us.

I have been given the privilege to take on the greatest responsibility, which comes with great access to my own inner strength, tenacity, compassion, and a richer experience of life.

This means I don’t have the luxury of wasting time anymore. I thought I didn’t waste time before the transformation, but now I really don’t. Wasting time makes everything infinitely more difficult with a child. It’s better to maximize what I have. Now I can viscerally feel every second go by. If that second is not properly used, then I am flooded by negative emotions.

While my hypersensitivity to time can be quite uncomfortable, this transformation taught me that we, as human beings, want and need to lift a heavy load. Perhaps I can even say a life that is easy to navigate is not one worth living.

Accepting the responsibility means that I am burdened with a certain set of problems, but set free from so many others. For the first time in my life, I am clear on what is important and what is not. Before the transformation, there was a lot up for debate. Nowadays, not so much.

After the Birth

These are some of the thoughts I recorded after my daughter was born.

Abusive Relationships and Parenting

I heard somewhere that being a parent of a newborn is like being in an abusive relationship. This is because people who are abusive are mentally infants.

I see many new parents who have a tough time dealing with non-reciprocal relationships, but I have been practicing non-reciprocal behavior for most of my life. I constantly felt as if I was giving more than I was getting and I learned to not let that breed resentment in me.

I learned to take on the perspective – if I’m not willing to do it without reciprocal behavior then I won’t do it.

This thought process has made becoming a parent manageable.

Attending to the needs of my newborn daughter is tough, but not unlike abusive relationships that I have had in the past. I must consistently minimize myself and repress my needs in order to meet the demands of the child.

In the past, this dynamic drove me crazy. This is appropriate because I wasn’t a parent. But now, I am not bothered at all by this dynamic because I know that it is appropriate for my daughter to act this way. She litereally is a child! However, it will be my responsibility to socialize her and makes sure she doesn’t act like this forever.

The Dark Side of Becoming a Parent

In the spirit of honesty, it’s not all nice. I was resentful of my need for security and sometimes I believed that having a kid was throwing my potential away. This was a belief that had to burn off quickly.

I realized it was a choice to believe things like that.

My mind can make up so many thoughts that aren’t necessarily true and I don’t have to believe them.

Honestly, it’s revitalizing to believe the contrary – becoming a parent is a goal that everyone should take seriously.

The darker side of becoming a parent is discovering how much a parent loves their child. Unfortunately, there are behaviors my parents committed that I cannot imagine repeating with my daughter.

Reflecting upon on much of my childhood, the question arises “How could a parent treat their child that way?” If they loved me as much as I love my daughter, how can they act that way?

Perhaps they experience the parent-child relationship differently.

Maybe I love my daughter more than they love me.

Maybe they are so unconscious, that they are living a life that they would not approve of.

Whatever the answer, I know I am afraid to find out.

These were questions I wondered often as a child but easily ignored. Now I think about them more often, even though I know it doesn’t do me much good.

One thing that is known, is that my parents primarily operated out of resentment.

I must be mindful of my resentments, especially so I do not accidentally project onto her. I need to be honest about when I feel like I do not want to fulfil my parental duties and deal with those feelings in a healthy way.

If I don’t, then I will create a world in which I will love her less.

The worst part is that no one else in the world will care for her like I do. This means I have to be extremely careful to notice when she does things that makes me dislike her.

If I can recognize those behaviors and stop them before they perpetuate, I can potentially limit the number of things she’ll do to make other people not like her.

This is not because I need the world to like my child.

It is because I want to world to open itself to my child and provide her with opportunities and allies.

If I cannot recognize when my child makes me dislike her, then I cannot help her regulate her behavior.

Children who cannot regulate themselves are quickly rejected from the communities and have a much more difficult experience of life.

Intense Magnification

Becoming a parent has accelerated the process of getting everything I want, but also magnifies the problems within myself. I feel as if the limits on life have been taken out. The happiness I can feel is more intense than what I felt before. The same can be said for suffering.

I’ve also noticed an increased tendency of being self-critical. I think it’s because I don’t want my unconscious pathologies to decide what my daugher’s life is. So I am incentivised to dig deep within myself to be better, be more.

I feel like I have a new access to emotions and a new understanding of asking for help. I used to never ask for help, but now I will let nothing get in the way of fulfilling my duties as a parent. Especially pride, which is a sin I frequently grapple with.

This magnification has also appeared in my relationship with Kyra, my daughters’ mother.

It feels like we are a family now.

We’re constantly improving and learning how to better cooperate and negotiate. Although that does not sound romantic, those are two critical pillars of our relationship and it is what keeps us growing stronger every day.

Mostly Positive Responses

Most people said congratulations, which could mean they either see me as fit to be a parent, or they feel compelled to congratulate me.

Either way this helps me feel like I could handle this, although approval from the masses isn’t a solid foundation.

I’ve become more aware of people’s judgement, or envy.

As sad as it is to say, some people aren’t genuinely happy for me when I share what probably is the best news in the world. I try to live my life by being around people who are on my team. I test that I like to use is sharing good news. If they’re happy for me, then they’re on my team. If they aren’t, then they’re jealous or a possible enemy.

This is a great time to know exactly who will be on my team.

I’m keeping my family close to allies, not enemies.

Constraints are Crucial

Many people see having children as synonymous with “sayin goodbye to freedom.”

Poor thinking.

Life already has constraints and we typically define our lives by our constraints, so I say that it is better to have constraints and a well defined life rather than not.

Yes, there are freedoms I’ve lost, but there are privledges that I have gained. I believe it is a great trade.

I Want Her to Grow Up

When my daughter looks at me, I can see so clearly what I want for her.

I want her to be excited to grow up and fulfill her potential.

I’ve seen too many adults that make me feel like growing up is dreadful.

Why is it dreadful to become more wise, knowledgeable, and capable?

Maybe because most adults don’t try to inspire. Perhaps she can.

Godwilling, I can be an example for her.

My Relationship with Time has Changed

Becoming a parent has taught me more about valuing my time, scheduling, storytelling, patience, and time management more than anything else ever could have.

Free time is an unbelievably powerful force. Having kids makes this clear.

I’ve written many parts of this essay in the middle of the night on my phone while I’m holding my daughter (because she won’t let us put her down)

-Currently she’s 8 weeks old and sleep from 6pm-12am if I’m lucky-

If I am awake I must USE the time, not spend it.

I wish I understood this to the level that I do now, but I know that I could have only reached this level of understanding through actually becoming a parent.

Becoming a parent is deeply discovering consequences. Everything has a cost, and parenting puts that right up in your face.

I have also channelled a greater capacity for patience.

There are times when I want things to speed up, but she is a reminder that nature takes it’s time and happens fast enough.

I remember wanting the pregnancy to speed up. Then I wanted the labor to speed up, and the infant stage, and the toddler stage.

I desperately want to see what my daughter will be like as an adult similarly to how I felt wanting my video game characters to be at full power.

I’ve learned that dropping that tendency and enjoying what I have in the moment is how I get what I will miss when we are older.

I’ve learned that I will get to those points in time, but right now is a moment to soak in as well. I think of this when she is screaming and crying, but also when we are playing.

So many parents tell me that they miss the days when their children were young. Hearing that gives me the patience to take a breath and enjoy the stage she is now.

The Great Hope

Once more, life is full of the genuine wonder and excitement that I once had as a kid.

Except now, the feelings aren’t as overwhelming. I notice that same curiosity of wondering what will actualize from new potential.

I’ve heard that becoming a parent is the opportunity to have the best relationship I could ever have in my life.

Ever.

I didn’t believe this to be true, but after spending time with my daughter I see that it is.

But I also know that it can be destroyed.

The love a child has for their parent is instinctual and as the adult, we can either foster it or destroy it.

I am aiming for the best relationship anyone can have with anyone.

So far so good.

Balancing Control

There’s a growing urdge to control the environment. I feel like if I can’t, then I feel like a bad person.

I had a higher tolerance to urdge before becoming a parent, but I’m not able to tolerate it as much as I used to.

Finding a balance of understanding how much I need to control the environment versus how much I need to control myself is difficult.

For me, becoming a parent puts me in a psychological position where I must play the “parent” role as referred to in Berne’s Games People Play. I felt like if I could not control the environment for my child, then I am a juvenile. As rediculous as that is to say, I could not shake the cognitive dissonance.

Over time I’ve learned, and am still learning, how to find that balance between controlling myself and controlling my environment.

New Relationship to Ambition

I’ve been thinking about the morality of ambition. I’ve always seen it as a good thing, but I feel like I am at a point in my life where being too ambitious is counterproductive.

For a while I wanted to so desperately cling to the systems and habits I previously built. As if those systems were me. I grew more upset every day that I missed my goals. I had to discover that I am working on the greatest project I have ever taken on and will ever take on – it’s imperfect but great.

All of the endeavours that I could ever undertake are not as important as this.

I want to keep aiming up, because that is something that I do believe is absolutely good.

But I don’t need to aim as high and as a result, I can dedicate more to being a better parent.

So In Love

There is no sweeter sound, no more infectious rhythm, than my daughter’s heartbeat.

I’m always thinking of her, especially when I’m not with her.

She get’s cooler every day.

Every day her movements are more and more refined. It’s astonishing.

All of her accomplishments make my heart sing. Ever single one. Even the small ones.

I’m happiest when I’m doing boring things with her like laying down or feeding her.

I love playing with her and helping her develop. There is nothing more gratifying and satisfying.

I was worried that I would get stuck with “some kid,” but she continues to impress me. She constantly reminds me that I am not dealing with “some kid,” but that she is someone who is so much likely that I cannot even begin to understand.

The best part is that she lets me love her. Admittedly, I was worried that I would love her so much and she would not care at all. That fear could not have been further from the truth. She lets me love her in a way that no one else can and that’s enough to bring a tear to my eye. Even at a young age, I can tell that our bond is strong.

Joining the Human Race

I wrote about this in my 2021 Yearly Review: Joining the Human Race. Becoming a parent has given me a compassion and love for the ineffectiveness and ineffcientness of humanity.

My engineering training has taught me to seek and destroy inefficiencies, but becoming a parent has taught me to love them.

Our inefficiencies hold the most joyful and gripping moments of life.

Humans are messy, slow, and riddled with mistakes. That’s what makes us human.

This is not a bad thing.

Do we need to strive to be better? Yes.

Do we need to see human error as wrong? Absolutely not.

Discovering this has given me a new perspective on dealing with people. This is a perspective that was difficult to genuinely believe before becoming a parent.

Children Bring Out the Best in Others

I had a student who brought a gun to school. Before I knew, he saw me in the hallway and asked me about my daughter. He genuinely wanted to know how she was. It felt as if he truly cared for her, perhaps he did.

I found out later that he was armed and he was expelled. He didn’t want to hurt anyone, he just want to look cool in front of his friends. Seek love and acceptance by providing value, not fear. The bottom line is…becoming a parent softens everyone.

Becoming a parent has helped me see the softer sides of all people. I get people smiling in my direction and walking near me as opposed to looking at me with suspicion or hostility. A stark contrast from my experience as a single 6 foot tall Black man, where I usually get the more defensive or hostile side of people.

We had a saying in healthcare: kids are the great equilaizor.

This meant that no matter who you are, seeing a sick or hurt kid will hit you emotionally.

That is true with just every day interactions. People love seeing children and they always bring out their loving side. Kids always level. the playing field.

It’s magical.

Rediscovering the World & Discovering the Future

Loving my child is like rediscovering the world.

Seeing her learn the simple things from using her hands to looking at shapes is amazing. I watched her look at nature for the first time and it was miraculous. I hope more experiences like this are to come. The world is interesting and full of life again.

Loving my child discovering the future.

The world I am leave behind needs to be better for her. She also needs to learn that she needs to do everything she can to make the world better as well.

For a long time, I lived for myself. For the first time, I see how I am just one part of something much bigger. I am part of the force that builds for the future. This means the choices I make are extremely important.

No More Room for Cowardice

There were many fears and insecurities that I had to confront while becoming a parent.

I could not let any of them stop me.

Fear and insecurities are excuses that people use to act like cowards.

When I am fulfilling my duties as a father, there is no insecurity. I am the security. I must become the security.

What is peculiar, is that I had so much insecurity when I would do things for myself. I was just letting myself be a coward. Because I could afford to.

No more.

Last Thoughts

Becoming a parent is both terrible and wonderful, much like the rest of the human experience.

However, I can say that the experience of becoming a parent is something that everyone should take seriously.

I have a theory that if someone were to strive to be the best parent they can be, then they will unlock the most rewarding game humans can play.

Becoming parents makes us human. It is what we are made to do.

Many modern people think otherwise because they have been tricked into thinking that there are other games to play that are more satisfying.

Becoming a parent is the best game we can play. It gives us access to the best experiences.

But only if we do it well.

Categories
Lifestyle

Personality and Trajectory (Part 1)

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”

Carl Jung (1875 – 1961)

Personality has always been an interesting subject for me. I’ve always been interested in what makes people tick and what separates an individual from the rest of the crowd. Personality is one of the many factors which determine individuality. Personality can be thought of as a collection of qualities that make up our overall character. Over the years, there has been much debate over what those qualities are and how they present in human behavior. Today, multiple theories have been widely accepted by the public and are used in business practices.

Learning personality is a fantastic way to connect with and understand more people than we otherwise would, but I don’t just stop there, I like to use it to help determine a complimentary life trajectory. Learning about our own personality gives us an insight into what kind of life we would actually enjoy.

It’s too easy to get caught up building our life for other people or chasing romanticised ideals. This is how people get stuck with jobs and relationships that they hate. People think they want these things because someone else told them it was worth having or because they saw it in the media. I see this with my students all the time, they stress out over which career pays the most, is the most “secure,” or looks the most glamourous. I see students intentionally repress themselves in order to fit into a mold that they will never truly accept.

The trick to avoiding this pitfall is learning about what makes up our personalities and tailoring our trajectories to fulfill ourselves. If we know what we would like to do, then we can pick a role within society that can satisfy that. Sounds simple enough, but people don’t really act this way. We live in a complex society and there are roles that need to be filled by people of certain temperament. It’s better to fill these roles with people who naturally fit into them, rather than waste resources trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

Our personality is something to take into account when we are designing the trajectory of our lives. It’s something we need to grapple with. It’s much easier to put ourselves in an environment which compliments our strengths, than to reject or ignore part of ourselves which cannot easily changed.

In this post, I’m going to talk about a popular theory of personality. It’s slightly outdated and not entirely scientifically inaccurate but it is widely accepted and used in many institutions, so it’s useful to “be in the know” with this information. Plus it’s fun party talk.

Myers-Briggs Personality Types

Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator or (MBTI) is a method of categorizing people through a questionnaire which outlines the differences in how they perceive the world and make decisions. It was created by American mother-daughter duo, Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers. MBTI is widely accepted throughout the business world as well as socially, especially in the United States.

Contrary to popular belief, MBTI does has significant scientific deficiencies, poor reliability, and is not entirely comprehensive of human personality. However, MBTI is useful to know because it gives us a common language with people who do accept it. MBTI is popular in the corporate world, because it does an excellent job in categorizing people without hurting anyone’s feelings. This theory of personality has a way of making everyone seem like they have no downfalls and can always contribute, which is powerful in business environments. Businesses tend to do better when the people who run it feel better. Empirical personality data isn’t as relevant to performance as we would expect. MBTI is also fantastic at providing a basic structure for understanding personality, but it’s crucial to know that it does not supply us with the whole picture.

MBTI is based on the assumption that people have specific preferences for interpreting experiences and pursuing our desires. It also draws from Carl Jung’s typology theories which suggest people have four modes of cognitive functions (Thinking, Feeling, Sensation, and Intuition) as well as one of two polar orientations (Extraversion or Introversion). Even though Jung’s theory of psychological types was not based on empirical scientific studies, they were based on clinical observation, introspection, and anecdotes. Since the conclusions did not originate from controlled scientific studies, they are not accepted by the scientific community. However, Carl Jung was an amazing thinker and I do believe he was one of the few operating with precision at the edge of our collective understanding. His conclusions, from his observations or otherwise, were always made with the intention of bringing man closer to truth that we all can accept.

MBTI sorts out personality in 4 major continuums. Each person leans more towards one pole of each pair similar to right-handedness or left-handedness. When a person determines which side of each continuum they express, they are assigned a type. There are a total of 16 different types, 1 for each combination of the letters.

Let me give an example using my own letters. I’m more introverted than extroverted. I’m more intuitive than sensory. I’m more of a thinker than a feeler. Usually I’m more perceiver than judger, but recently I have been more judger than perceiver. This gives me the letters INTJ. (Some days I’m an INTP) The letters come from the capitalized letter in each word: Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Judger.

Extroversion vs. Introversion

MBTI and Jung use introversion and extroversion in similar ways. Introversion meaning inward-turning and extroversion meaning outward-turning. These both are often referred to as attitudes that one uses to function in the external world.

Simply put, extroverts are recharged by people while introverts are recharged by alone time. Each type is usually drained by the opposite activity, extroverts are drained by alone time and introverts are drained by social interaction. However, there are other notable differences between them.

Extroverts direct their energy towards people and objects while introverts direct theirs towards concepts and ideas. We can always find out which attitude people take by paying attention to the topics of their conversation or asking them what their ideal weekend would look like. If someone is frequently talking about people and things they’re most likely extroverted. If someone is frequently talking about concepts and ideas they’re most likely introverted. An extrovert’s ideal weekend is probably spent going out and seeing a bunch of people, celebrating at the club, or another type of high energy ordeal. An introvert’s ideal weekend would probably be spent inside with a good book or TV show along with ample time for reflection.

This is not to say that extroverts can never be alone, or that introverts hate being with people. Everyone needs some amount of social interaction and alone time. Our attitudes merely reflect our preferences and how we choose to interact with the world around us. Neither attitude is more advantageous or otherwise, they are simply two sides of the same coin.

The following statements will apply to you if you are more extroverted:

  • I am seen as “outgoing” or as a “people person.”
  • I feel comfortable in groups and like working in them.
  • I have a wide range of friends and know lots of people.
  • I sometimes jump too quickly into an activity and don’t allow enough time to think it over.
  • Before I start a project, I sometimes forget to stop and get clear on what I want to do and why.

The following statements will apply to you if you are more introverted:

  • I am seen as “reflective” or “reserved.”
  • I feel comfortable being alone and like things I can do on my own.
  • I prefer to know just a few people well.
  • I sometimes spend too much time reflecting and don’t move into action quickly enough.
  • I sometimes forget to check with the outside world to see if my ideas really fit the experience.

Sensing vs. Intuition

This dichotomy is based on how we psychologically perceive the external world. These are both functions of gathering information. Sensing individuals tend to trust information that is tangible, concrete, and understood by the five senses. They’re less likely to trust “gut feelings” or other “hunches” that come out of nowhere. For them, meaning lies in the data, what is in front of them.

Individuals driven by intuition tend to trust information that is remembered or discovered through analyzing patterns. Since they trust information that doesn’t have to fit within the five senses, they tend to be more excited by what the future has in store. For them, meaning is not in the data but the principles and theories which underlie the data.

The following statements will apply to you if you perceive through sensing:

  • I remember events as snapshots of what actually happened.
  • I solve problems by working through facts until I understand the problem.
  • I am pragmatic and look to the “bottom line.”
  • I start with facts and then form a big picture.
  • I trust experience first and trust words and symbols less.
  • Sometimes I pay so much attention to facts, either present or past, that I miss new possibilities.

The following statements will apply to you if you perceive through intuition:

  • I remember events by what I read “between the lines” about their meaning.
  • I solve problems by leaping between different ideas and possibilities.
  • I am interested in doing things that are new and different.
  • I like to see the big picture, then to find out the facts.
  • I trust impressions, symbols, and metaphors more than what I actually experienced.
  • Sometimes I think so much about new possibilities that I never look at how to make them a reality.

Thinking vs. Feeling

Thinking and feeling are based on how we prefer to make choices in the external world. Both thinkers and feelers make rational choices based on certain kinds of information which were gathered from their senses or intuition. Thinkers tend to make their decisions based on objective measures while aiming to be reasonable, logical, or causal. They are usually personally detached from their decisions and try to match their choices to a given set of rules. Thinkers also tend to have low tolerance for those who are inconsistent or illogical. Thinkers give direct (and sometimes harsh) feedback and view the truth as more important than feelings.

This is not to say that thinkers never make emotional decisions, MBTI simply lets us know one’s preference in decisions making and is not a predictor of behavior. They also don’t “think better” than their feeling counterparts. MBTI doesn’t measure cognitive ability, just preferences.

Feelings types tend to make their choices based on empathy, balance, harmony, and with consideration for others’ needs. Feeling types try to see what works best for everyone involved and are willing to sacrifice logic and truth for the good of the majority. 

Thinking types will have a hard time leading a healthy and productive life if they make their choices based on their feelings, while feeling types will have a harder time leading a healthy and productive life if they make their choices based on their logical reasoning. Both types tend to lack the opposite senses necessary to make good choices. Similar to our attitudes toward the external world (extraversion vs. introversion), one isn’t better than the other, they are both different sides to the same coin.

The following statements will apply to you if you decide through thinking:

  • I enjoy technical and scientific fields where logic is important.
  • I notice inconsistencies.
  • I look for logical explanations or solutions to most everything.
  • I make decisions with my head and want to be fair.
  • I believe telling the truth is more important than being tactful.
  • Sometimes I miss or don’t value the “people” part of a situation.
  • I can be seen as too task-oriented, uncaring, or indifferent.

The following statements will apply to you if you decide through feeling:

  • I have a people or communications orientation.
  • I am concerned with harmony and nervous when it is missing.
  • I look for what is important to others and express concern for others.
  • I make decisions with my heart and want to be compassionate.
  • I believe being tactful is more important than telling the “cold” truth.
  • Sometimes I miss seeing or communicating the “hard truth” of situations.
  • I am sometimes experienced by others as too idealistic, mushy, or indirect.

Judging vs. Perceiving

This dichotomy is based on how we relate to our perceptions of the external world. This continuum is heavily influenced by our sensing and/or intuitive natures, because we are either judging or perceiving the information obtained through those perceptions.

Judging types take in information with the intention of using it later and, in the words of Myers, like to “have matters settled.” They usually have a plan in mind and are only interested in information if it’s related to their goal in some way. They tend to be more comfortable once decisions have been made and the environment around them is under control.

Perceiving types take in information for the sake of learning. They love knowing things just to know them. Perceiving types learn about and adapt to the world around them rather than structure it themselves.

The following statements will apply to you if you perceive your information by through judging:

  • I like to have things decided.
  • I appear to be task oriented.
  • I like to make lists of things to do.
  • I like to get my work done before playing.
  • I plan work to avoid rushing just before a deadline.
  • Sometimes I focus so much on the goal that I miss new information.

The following statements will apply to you if you perceive your information by through perceiving:

  • I like to stay open to respond to whatever happens.
  • I appear to be loose and casual. I like to keep plans to a minimum.
  • I like to approach work as play or mix work and play.
  • I work in bursts of energy.
  • I am stimulated by an approaching deadline.
  • Sometimes I stay open to new information so long I miss making decisions when they are needed.

For more information on each of the MBTI traits, I suggest going to myersbriggs.org. It’s the place to go for more thorough explanations of everything MBTI and where I got most of this information, like the relevant statements for each type.


Like I said earlier, personality changes throughout our lives and these letters are just letting us know our proclivities, not defining who we are as people. However, knowing my MBTI can give me an insight into what kind of life trajectory I would be the most satisfied with with the least friction.

According to my MBTI, I would most enjoy a trajectory which: provides me with ample alone time (I). opportunities to discover new information (N). puts me in environments where the culture values reason, logic, and causality (T). gives me the opportunity to make decisions on my own time at my own pace (J).

Through understanding our personality, we can create paths for ourselves which compliment our proclivities. For example, if I were extroverted, I would probably best enjoy myself in an environment surrounded by others.

While MBTI can give us delightful insight into what life trajectories would best compliment our nature, there are some criticisms that are important to consider:

  • These types are generalizations which do not accurately describe an individual.
  • There are people who do not fit nicely into these 16 groups.
  • MBTI suggests that there are no negative personality traits.
  • MBTI is widely accepted in the workplace, even though there is no evidence that supports MBTI is predictive of performance.

There are others, but these are the ones I’ve encountered to be the most substantial. All these criticisms bring up the question:

Why still use MBTI?

It can give us a rough idea of what kind of life trajectory we would fit well with and as I’ve talked about in my other posts, we do things badly before we can do them well. If we want to design a beautiful life trajectory, we need a rough starting point. MBTI is great for that. Plus it’s fun party conversation if you ever run into an MBTI nerd. Additionally, since MBTI is commonly accepted in the workplace, it’s useful to be in the know when people try to use it’s coded language.

Find your letters and start discovering which paths most align with you.

In the modern world we have choices, why not choose what fits us?

Categories
Lifestyle

2019 Yearly Review: Birth of Tradition

“Time is the friend of the person who trains his mind to follow positive thought-habits and the enemy of the person who drifts into negative thought-habits.”

Napoleon Hill (Outwitting the Devil)

When last year was coming to a close, I had a terrible realization that I couldn’t remember anything that happened that year and I felt like life was slipping through my fingers. Every week moving faster than the last, and while I was in the grips of it all my days seemed to have amounted to nothing. I knew that this wasn’t possible because I was working really hard, dedicating myself to (what I believed to be) noble causes, and some things in my life were moving along in a generally positive direction, but it just didn’t feel like it.

I was tired of feeling stagnant, so I told myself in 2019 I had to track my life somehow. (I learned a lot about tracking this year and I outline it in my post on Tracking vs. Loss Aversion.) I wasn’t open to journaling or writing at the time, but I’ve discovered that writing is of my favorite ways to record myself and look back on later. In the early parts of the year, I tried to take pictures of something I was doing once a day or record a quick vlog, but those didn’t stick and I felt like it didn’t accurately captured what I was actually like.

I was really disheartened to think that one day I’ll be gone, and all that will be left of me are the things that I leave here. All that will be left of me would be those pictures to capture my day or that quick vlog.

That didn’t sit well with me at all.

I understand that entire civilizations have come and gone and most individuals are not remembered in time, but I want my existence to at least have a chance to impact others, even after I’m dead and gone. I thought about how much beauty and tragedy I can experience in a day, how I’ve learned so much throughout my time here, and I should try my damndest to share it. Not only life lessons and academic lessons, but lessons about the human spirit that can only be communicated through experiencing another individual. Every person I’ve come across has an undeniable uniqueness, and I’ve always believed that’s what makes people special. It was so terrible that my own unique individualism was being squashed and forgotten because I was too lazy, afraid, or [insert any relatively insignificant emotion here] to dedicate the energy and time required to preserve it. If I couldn’t even remember what I was doing in the past year, how could I expect to preserve my individuality over time?

With frustration, fear, and anger heavy in my heart, I went on to find some way to accurately capture who I am. I discovered that I could carve out a little piece of the internet and create a space that captures all the different sides of me, and if I dedicated the proper time and energy, then I could capture who I am in my entirety. So I ditched the “picture a day” crap and took my documenting more seriously. I created a plan to build an online city that expresses the different sides of Christopher Sagala Mukiibi. Each project I build isn’t a perfect representation of me, but it is a small part of me. The goal is my future and (hopefully) expansive body work will capture who I am in my entirety and no part of me will be left unsaid, so to speak.

To capture my nonverbal emotional states, I dedicated myself to building a musical district in my online city. This is starting off as my beat store and Sagala Productions, but I hope to nourish and build this to something more beautiful that I could imagine. I’m in the early stages of figuring out how to make beat making videos. I feel like my music district will be a little more substantial once that is written out.

To teach the beautiful ideas that help me make sense of the world, I dedicated myself to building an educational district in my online city. This is starting off as my blog, but it is also developing offline in my tutoring sessions and classes that I teach at the Temecula Tutor center. This blog is an opportunity for me to expand and refine ideas that will be further synthesized into my online courses and (hopefully) a book. This educational district will give students scaffolding to receive a quality education that actually helps them operate in the world from a system that isn’t designed to do that.

To capture the parts of me that are less understood by myself, I dedicated myself to building a talk show. I don’t really want to go into why a talk show is perfect for capturing the unknown within in this post but I plan to cover it sometime in the future. The show is in it’s early developments, but we have a few episodes shot and I can really see this building into something beautiful. Even if it doesn’t go anywhere, I’m anticipating this to be one of the most accurate depictions of myself. I’m hoping in 2020, I’ll be able to drop some high quality entertainment and capture some priceless memories.

To ensure consistent improvement, I’ve dedicated myself to doing a Yearly Review every year. I tried a few different ways to track consistent improvement. I was looking for a method that was low pressure enough to keep me going but was still effective. It took a few months but I think I’ve found a way that sticks. (We’ll see though.)

So it’s pretty simple, every month I pick two of my weaknesses that I will try to get at least 1% better by the end of the month. I keep the bar low so I will actually do it, but I always pick the things that I really really really really really really do not want to focus on.

I write the themes on the whiteboard in my room, because I look at it all the time so I’m constantly reminded of my weaknesses and that it’s my job this month to get better at them. I’ve found that as long as I’m trying to get better and I know what I’m trying to improve, I actually get better! What a concept.

So this year, I started my themes may and june but I didn’t record anything from those months and I can’t remember what I was working on and how I felt about it but I did notice an improvement. So in July I started writing it down in my note app so I can at least keep track of something.

I would also keep a to-do list written above my themes and if I felt proud of myself that day then I would take a picture of the list and save it into my themes. As the year went on, I started taking more and more pictures of the lists. It’s crazy to think that there were a few months this year when I only felt proud of myself less than 5 days out of the month but it’s also nice to know that there were some months when I felt proud of myself almost every day.

As the months went on, I rediscovered the value of writing more and taking less pictures, but I never sat down to thoroughly write my thoughts out so I’m going to give myself the opportunity to do that now with this review. The memories won’t be perfect, but they’ll do. I’ll put what I initial wrote down in my notes app in italics and my elaborated thoughts will come afterwards.

July: Continuous Humility & Patience

“at the beginning of the month I found it scary to take on these themes. I knew they were weaknesses.

“I feel way more humble and patient. So much so that I want to try this every month to see if I can overcome more miraculous things. I’ve accomplished so much this month. This is a fun little thing to do. And there’s no stakes”

CM: Like I said, I didn’t take much time to elaborate so this is all I wrote. I knew that I had an arrogance issue and I was quite impatient. It was annoying confronting this, but this month was important. By the end of the month, I was ecstatic to look at the progress I was making. I was learning things quicker and producing things faster. I knew that it was in direct correlation to my humility and patience. Arrogance and impatience are the death of progress and this little experiment helped me see that. It really didn’t cost me anything, I felt like I was getting better, and I actually was getting better. Why not try it again?

August: Discipline & Clarity

“I feel like my life lacks discipline and I have a hard time believing that I am sane so clarity seems to be the antidote for that.”

“one week in and it’s a lot less tough to focus on the theme. I’m working out more. I’m getting so much done. I’m more honest too. I’m a little more tired, but I feel like a better man for it.”

“end of the month: I’m so happy I did this. I am more disciplined and I rarely think im crazy anymore. I’ve been working out more consistently and I’ve noticed changes in my body. I’m great at getting myself to start things now. I’ve been more honest and clear with my writing and speech. I accomplished so much this month and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen over the next few months. I honestly think this is a great way for me to get over any flaws I have or enhance any ability I want. I’m going to give it another try for September.”

CM: Turns out my experiment was a success and the benefits far exceeded the costs and/or expectations. I started working on my creativity section of my body of work, recording what my creative process is like. I also completed 13 beats that month! I can barely believe that now. I started posting on my website and I was simultaneously confronting multiple weaknesses and actually making something beautiful out of it. This month the first episode of So to Speak was filmed. I don’t think that episode will ever be released, but we’ll see. The future is full of unexpected events.

September: Completion & Order

“I have a hard time finishing things and I’m constantly feeling out of control. I want to be able to see my impact in the universe. I will reach out and move things. No longer will I sit back. I will finish my plans, hopefully. I’ve developed two months as a success spiral. I want to see how long this will last and if it can overcome these things.”

“first week in: I’m seeing all the things I never finish. I’m hyper aware of all the new projects that I’m dying to start. I’m going to try to just write those ideas down – and attend to them when I finished what I’m set out to do.”

“Last week: I did slightly better with completion and order than I was expecting, but I don’t feel like I had the same level of success as I did with my other months. So I’m going to keep completion as the theme for next month but I’m changing order. I started Thus Spake Zarathustra and Nietzsche says we need to have much chaos within us to give birth to a dancing star.

CM: I remember this month. It was painful to notice how often I want to start new ideas and leave all my old ones unfinished. I told myself, I had to finish whatever projects I was working on this month before I could start a new one. I dropped this idea as soon as the month was over because I figured that as long as I’m starting to create the truly great projects will be the ones that get completed and not the ones that are forced. I’m not saying this is the case for everyone, it’s just a belief I’m trying out right now. This month I injected a lot of order into my life and rejecting the chaotic side of me made it difficult to create. There is definitely a balance to be found between chaos and order. This month consisted of a lot of cleaning, physical and digital. Not the most exciting stuff, but I’m very happy to know that I’ve dedicated at least 1/12 of this year to entropy management.

October: Completion & Consistency

“2nd week in: I feel a lot better about my ability to complete and be consistent. I’m feeling like I have more control over what’s happening. Finishing things and not finishing things has become more of a choice rather than a reflection of my circumstances “

“October 17th: I feel like I understand my body more with my consistent workouts. Aries is happier too. He loves the morning walks and I think he’s losing weight. I’ve been trying really hard to complete my tasks each day. I can’t manage that, but I am finishing a lot more than I usually do. What gets measured gets improved is such an accurate statement.”

“21st: It feels real fucking good to check off everything today. I finally feel like completion and consistency are completely mine. What gets measured gets managed. What gets managed gets improved. Aries is definitely losing weight. And it feels good being in control of whatever I choose. It’s a little humbling to see how much that really is, but knowing my limits is good.”

“Last day: I feel like I’ve gotten a good hold on completion and consistency, but I feel like I’ve lost hold of some of the other themes I’ve been practicing. Specifically patience. It’s almost like I’m only able to have a grip on a few of these abilities at a time. Anyways this month has been wildly productive. I feel healthier, and so is Aries and I’m pretty confident in myself. It’s all those success spirals 😁”

CM: This month was critical for my development, or at least seems so when I look back on these thoughts. I feel like my relationship with completion has changed since this month. I learned that completing things is a choice, and if I pay enough attention, there’s a specific moment when I decide to finish a project or not. All I have to do is be honest with myself and decide to finish. Or not. The confronting part is knowing that this capacity for completion is a decision that I make if I’m paying attention. I remember being really consistent this month. I was constantly working out and finishing tasks on my white board. I feel like I truly learned how much I could accomplish in a day. I learned where my cognitive load caps out and how much cognitive load each task takes. It was humbling to learn that I can’t get as much done in a day as I’d like, but at least I get stuff done at all! 70% there is better than 0%. After reading these thoughts, it looks like completion and consistency are the recipe for confidence and feeling awesome! I learned that during October, but somewhere between then and now I’ve forgotten it. It’s cool reflecting and rediscovering lessons that were so crucial to my peace of mind.

November: Patience & Focus

“1st Day: I’m upset that I’ve lost proficiency, so to speak, in patience. And the past few days I’ve been unfocused so let’s run it! As usual I’m pretty intimidated by these themes but I’m not as intimidated as usual.”

“Book Goal for the year!! 11/11!! Whoop whoop! Can’t wait to see all the books im going to read next year. Picking up reading was easily one of the best choices I have ever made. All the information in each of these books changed my life for the better in ways I could never have even imagined.”

“11/12 – I felt like was going crazy last week because nothing was going right and everything seemed so much more difficult than it needed to be, but now I see that it was me rejecting the themes for this month. I was not patient and I was not focused but now that I’ve realized that, I just kept my head down, focused, and now things are starting to work out. Patience is really hard for me to get under control.”

“11/20 – it’s like I’m just believing that staying focused helps me be patient but I feel like I’m slightly better at focusing. Not as good as my MCAT study days (I want to beat my old record 3hr attention span with 1.5 hr no breaks), right now I break at around 1 hour. Patience is interesting though. I’m finally able to teach this class next semester even though I pictured being done with the whole thing within 8 months. It’s a year and a half and it lives. It’s much better to take my time and slow cook it. Everyone I presented to was impressed with it. I just need to be patient. Tonight was proof that patience is key. I just need to stay focused as I have been.”

“End of November – i feel like I’m slightly more patient but I feel as if my focus isn’t as high as it could be. At the beginning of the month, I was only able to sit and work for like an hour but I’ve gotten up to about an hour and a half It’s an improvement but I feel like the work im doing requires the artist to be able to focus on it for long periods of time. Once I get my attention span up, I’ll make my work better.”

CM: This month I noticed that my patience for everything was running thin, so I decided to make it a theme again. I was hesitant at first, but I figured I’m never going to perfect this skill within a month so I’ll repeat it as many times as necessary. Plus when I start adding in more rules, things get too complicated. And when things get more complicated, friction comes and I stop doing things. Friction is probably my number 1 worst enemy. I also reached my book goal for the year in this month. I read 20 books, some of which are on my Must Read Book List. This was the first year I took reading seriously, and it was easily one of the best choices I’ve ever made in my life. The knowledge I’ve acquired from these books has given me a new way of looking at the world and experiencing life. Reading is one of those things that can’t be done too much. I was able to compare my attention span between now and when I used to be a pre-med study fiend. I’ve lost some skill, partly due to lack of practice, but I’ve been trying to get back on the long-term concentration horse. It’s been getting slightly better, but I’m nowhere near where I used to be. This was the month I showed my course to prospective parents and students and it was a hit! People loved what I had to say and couldn’t wait to sign up in the spring. We’ll see how much of that will hold into the new year, but it’s nice to know that there are people out there who are receptive to my work. It helped offset my incessant delusion that what I’m doing isn’t worthwhile. It just took way longer than I expected, so I guess it’s fitting that I had that experience during my “patience” month. My patience and focus got a little better by the end of the month, and it’s something I try to improve on every day. At the moment, I don’t really see any noticeable gains, but I know in a few months or weeks I’ll notice a difference in my focus.

December: Integrity & Vulnerability 

“12/1 – fuck these themes lol integrity is something I know I need to work on for myself. It’ll make my experience of my life easier to handle. Vulnerability is necessary for my art to really find a place in the world. I keep holding things back bc I don’t want to be vulnerable and my art, my business, and my productivity is suffering because of it”

“End of December – I didn’t write as much this semester because my bargaining ass knew I was writing this blog post and it “counts” for the month of December, but as I write this I realize how purely idiotic that was. I spent a huge portion of the month working on bringing Integrity back into my life. I came across opposition of all kinds. External, internal, physical, psychological, you name it. I was able to bring back integrity to my room, but as far as much schedules, routines, and other aspects of my life, my integrity still isn’t whole. I probably hit 70% of my integrity goals this month so it’s very likely that I’ll start 2020 off with integrity as a theme again. As for vulnerability, I made an effort to show more positive emotion towards people and showing the work I’ve created despite my fear of judgement and rejection. I’ve been resistant towards these themes pretty much the whole month, but I do think I’ve gotten at least 1% better. I know I’ll need to do this theme again too.”

CM: I really liked reflecting over this year. I feel like I understood what I was doing a little bit better and I’m actually excited to bring just as much, if not more, energy and attention into 2020. I aim to expand on the foundation I’ve built, and hopefully reach out to more people. This was the year I finally feel like I have a grip on the world around me, how it works, and how I am going to navigate in it and with that knowledge came a flurry of creative projects designed to express my multidimensional existence. I used this year to learn about myself and birth new traditions that hopefully fit into something bigger and worthwhile to other people. I’m excited for the story to continue. I know I have more work cut out for me than ever before, but it’s exciting work that I find useful and meaningful. Cheers 🍻to a tough, challenging, but rewarding 2019 and more of the same in 2020.

If you made it down here thanks for reading this! I know I don’t usually post these kinds of things but the reflection is important and I figured I might as well share it since the theme for this month is Vulnerability.

The Valley of Disappointment

“We often expect progress to be linear. At the very least, we hope it will come quickly. In reality, the results of our efforts are often delayed. It is not until months or years later that we realize the true value of the previous work we have done. This can result in a “valley of disappointment” where people feel discouraged after putting in weeks or months of hard work without experiencing any results. However, this work was not wasted. It was simply being stored. It is not until much later that the full value of previous efforts is revealed.”

James Clear

The Expectancy Curve

In James Clear’s fantastic book Atomic Habits, he explains the idea of the expectancy curve. I think it’s a great tool to overcome imposter syndrome or any other form of the attack. The expectancy curve helps us keep going by giving us a frame to understand our insufficiencies.

Whenever we learn something new, we expect our progress to follow a straight line but in reality our progress is more parabolic. This results in a period of time when we are performing at a lower level than we’re expecting. This time period is called The Valley of Disappointment and it’s duration depends on the skill and how much deliberate practice we choose to put in.

When we feel like we’re underperforming, it’s easy to feel like we aren’t “meant” to do that new thing but all we need to do is stick with our newfound skill until we reach the critical point. The critical point is where the level of our skill matches our expectations. When we reach the critical point we stop suffering from imposter syndrome, feel more confident in our abilities, and (most importantly) keep developing our skills.

Most people stop cultivating their skills when they’re in the valley of disappointment but the ones who make it to the critical point can start to reap the benefits of their faith, consistency, and hard work.

I’ve seen this play out in a number of skills but I found this especially true in music production, hurdling, and cooking.

It can take weeks, months, or even years to get to the critical point. When I first took up music production, I was told that I would have to practice producing for 5 years before I would be able to compose, mix, and master a song from start to finish.

This was me kind of understanding The Expectancy Curve and The Valley of Disappointment years before I could articulate it. The idea of The Valley of Disappointment and taking 5 years before I could complete a song gave me a longer time frame for proficiency. This longer time frame is what made it easier for me to cut myself some slack. That freedom to make mistakes helped me grow. I always thought that made me a little insane but [Kobe Bryant] talks about having the freedom to make mistakes and how that leads to accelerated growth too.

This isn’t to say that The Valley of Disappointment isn’t a tough place to be. It’s easy to think all the work we’re putting in is futile and insane but it isn’t. The work we put in while we’re in the valley is exactly what gives us the ability to move out of it and enjoy the fruits of our labor later on. Deliberate practice is never wasted effort. Our efforts compound over time and this is especially true with skill development.

It’s difficult to move past The Valley of Disappointment but I do think as we learn more we find peace in our insufficiencies. The more I learned about music production, the more I realized that the experienced producers who said music production had a 5 year valley of disappointment were right. The more I learned, the more I realized how much I didn’t know. (Which totally applies to everything btw)

“Be not afraid of going slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” 

Chinese proverb

The whole idea is to stick with things for a while. Ask people in the field how long it took them to feel comfortable and confident in their position. I remember an ER doc saying it took him 10 years before he felt like he reach his critical point. Proficiency take time.

I find that knowing The Valley of Disappointment exists helps me get through it. The upset is temporary and I know I’m right around the corner from being a badass.