I Gave Up Men For Lent releases February 7, 2019!

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journal entry: the day YouTube changed my life

March 2017


Today I went to the gym after work. When you give up men and liquor, there isn’t much else to do on a Friday evening. Plus, after the marathon, I set a goal to reach 20% body fat before I go on a cruise with my MBA friends in mid-April.


I chose the gym over the running group even though the running group always goes for tacos after the run on Fridays… and I love tacos. I just didn’t feel like seeing David. Earlier this week, I told him I was giving up men for Lent and he got really upset. He blamed himself. I tried to explain that it wasn’t his fault – he was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. Later that night I texted him:


I probably shouldn't have told you that and I'm sorry for doing so. My intention was not to make you feel bad in any way. I think you think you hurt me - you didn't. Don't worry, I don't think we are meant to be anything more than really great friends, and if you remembered everything that was said on Friday, you would remember my thought process on that because I was very honest. The pattern I need to find a way to break is men telling me things - whether I want to hear them or not - that they don't actually mean or just won't actually face. You don't know the details of my relationship history, but it happens all the time and I can't take it anymore. And in that respect, you do have some shit you need to work out - because you said a lot of things on Friday that aren't consistent with your sober line of thinking, or you just haven't consciously faced those thoughts yet. Either way, I'll always be your friend, I want nothing but happiness for you, and I'm here to listen... just after I cleanse all this negative energy.


I imagine that will be the last time either of us references what happened between us. There’s nothing more to say.


The gym was not crowded and about halfway through my workout, everyone had left except my personal trainer, Steve, and me. With no one else in the gym, no clients to train, and me busy with a workout he had written for me, Steve decided to do his own workout for the day. I know from walking in on him training early in the mornings that he likes to listen to motivational speeches when he works out. They aren’t what you’re probably imagining – they’re snippets of motivational messages from all kinds of different successful people (athletes, celebrities, motivational speakers, etc.) compiled together with music in the background. I wasn’t really feeling the music that was on in the gym so I told him I was okay with him putting on his motivational messages while we worked out. He did.


I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to what the motivational people were saying at first… I went about my business, rowing for a minute and then walking back to the incline ab bench to do sit-ups. Then, before I knew it, I caught myself sitting on the rowing machine not rowing, just listening. Over the speakers of the gym, a voice I didn’t recognize – some famous or successful person I don’t know – was asking me, “Do you ever just feel off and can’t explain why?”




“Do you ever feel unhappy or unfulfilled in life, but don’t know the reason?”




I never really thought I felt unfulfilled in life – how could I? I have a great life. But as I sat motionless on the rower, mouth probably open, brow furrowed, there was no escaping my answer. Yes, I feel unfulfilled and don’t know the reason.


Then the voice abruptly cut off and was replaced by Pitbull yelling “Timber!” I looked up and saw that Steve had changed it back to music because other people had come into the gym.  


Damnit. I wanted to hear what it said next.


I went back to my workout, wishing I could hear what that motivational person was going to say next and feeling a little uneasy at having just admitted to myself that I felt unfulfilled. Before I left the gym, I asked Steve where he gets the motivational stuff. I wanted to keep listening. I wanted to know what that voice was going to say next - why I feel off or what to do about it. He told me to search ‘Fearless Motivation’ on YouTube.


When I got home, I immediately turned on my TV, went to the YouTube app on my Roku (for maybe the first time ever), searched for ‘Fearless Motivation’, and played the first video that came up.


I listened as I did things around the house – started laundry, cleaned up a bit, made dinner. Surprisingly, I found myself enjoying the videos. I say ‘surprisingly’ because historically, I’m not someone who’s at all into motivational speakers or self-help in any way. My best friend from South Florida, Amber, has always been into that stuff and tried to get me to watch The Secret many years ago. I made her turn it off after about two minutes, laughing and telling her it was ridiculous. I like clever or thought-provoking quotes, and that’s about it.


But I was truly enjoying these little snippets of people talking. I got my dinner together and sat down on the couch to keep watching. “Watching” is a stretch because it wasn’t a video at all – the image on the screen was a static picture of a very in-shape, shirtless, sweaty man with his mouth open like he was yelling. So I was really just sitting on the couch, dinner plate in hand, looking at an unchanging picture (an odd sight, I’m sure). And then the video asked a question that punched me in the gut -

“What is your purpose?”


I don’t know.


It went on. “What drives you?”


I don’t know.


The torture continued. “Why do you get out of bed in the morning? Why are you here?”


I don’t know. I don’t know!


I sat there stunned, thinking how do I not know what my purpose is? I’m almost thirty-three years old and I’ve literally never thought about this. And no one has ever asked me. How is that possible? Why am I here?


I was very disturbed and a little annoyed that I didn’t know the answers to these questions. And worse - that I’d never even thought about them.