Short Stuff — A moment of Maturity, Sadness and Clarity

Ajani O
7 min readDec 4, 2022

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I’ve got to just “get out ahead of it and say it” …. I’ve been struggling with something during the Covid-19 Pandemic that I’d never wanted to actually address in my life. I am a “have” and…. that “hurts me” and makes me “Feel bad about myself” …. this is in contrast to the normal “winners win” sort of feeling but I do not believe that “stomping and/or dunking” on others is “winning” …. I’ve learned that I can separate all of these aspects and consider myself separate to them. However, I’ve not “done the heavy lifting” to align myself to this realization.

I was hoping the pandemic would be an open book to closed book type of scenario to address this issue for me…. but the pandemic is effectively “over” society wise in comparison to where we were in March to May of 2020. I had some of my greatest life moments during 2020 adapting to the “new … new” … and the timing of that break couldn’t have been better. I wanted to lose friends, I wanted to be more “isolated” …. I wanted to know “me” better and not just have the belief of what others believe in me as to be a key reference for my growth/focuses.

I’ve totally neglected that last bit waiting to be able to “hide in plain sight” …. and it’s time for it to be addressed.

I’ve had (yet another) “sudden change” at work by moving into a team that I will undoubtebly be more comfortable “in my skin” within. However, I pride myself on being versatile, open minded and focused on growth.

I am challenged often on “just how open minded are you Ajani” … However, that’s mainly at the very detailed level where I do get quite rigid on “sticking to the plan” (which is a plan that comes from data/observations) ….. well “the plan” isn’t always the same to everyone at the time of agreeing to it.

This is something critical for me to have learned while in isolation because it’s shifted my mentality on what I need to do to communicate more clearly on my plans and goals from the “on set”. Anyway… I’m getting a bit carried away here.

The purpose of this note is to “reason” with myself on 2 things…. well 3 things…. the 3rd being the “key observation” I acquired from a mentor at work …. who I truly wish I could work with every single day … but it just doesn’t “work that way” haha.

2 things have occured since 2020 that have been a bit “shocking” to me… and they are associated to “trust” overall…. trust in myself and trust in the statements/beliefs of others. It seems that I’ve been “let down” too many times to “let go” of certain things as a validation to myself that I am “on track”.

“On track” for what …. I have no idea but I’ve noted in the past how impacted I am from the lives I know I’ve lived and that my cousins (and some close friends) “still live” …. How can I “look in the mirror” with these aspects on my mind …. I ensure that I “give it my all” for everything apparently… I lock in and block out the noise… I ramp up and then I execute… I live a “challenge or be challenged” lifestyle that hasn’t been conductive to absolute success (it’s been successful time and time again… but I’m sure some don’t like my methodologies to generate said “success”).

The “3rd thing” (and I’ve yet to mention the 2 haha) ….. is to remind myself to “be kind to myself” as a mentor at work mentioned … during a discussion of feeling a sense of regret for being overworked … through my own “successes” …. leading to more and more “asks” …. and they have increased in the level of communications complexity … and I’ve let myself down there massively by being “too good at understanding the complex” ….. meanwhile I’m ABSOLUTELY horrible… at communicating on that level of complexity. It reminds me of how MJ and Kobe have always mentioned (or authors of their books/reporters) that they “cannot be coaches” …. I’ve tried to be well rounded to avoid that pitfall…. but my “natural capabilities” …. gives me blind spots that certain things are “clearly understood” …. only to find out… it wasn’t “clear” to everyone… but their level of belief in my abilities to have it “understood” was 100% understood…. I have the ability to “charm” in a sense regardless of the outcomes being presented requiring the buy-in of “all” (IE: I have to pull myself back to the “mean” to ensure I am protected by the “executive decisions” I have to take during complex projects to ensure what was agreed is delivered… with the correct level of detail and execution)…

So the 2 things…. I’ve “cried” (actually stopped myself) but yes… have cried twice while at work since 2020 in moments that I couldn’t even see coming …. I could “feel” them coming and I was stressed enough to understand that I needed to “avoid” that type of discussion.

Moment #1 => My Manager told me just how much they appreciated my work…. It was unexpected, it was something I “didn’t want to discuss” and something…. I just wanted to never hear…. Since that moment happened I’ve bene wondering “why did I feel that strongly about avoiding this dicussion” ….. it’s still a bit of a mystery to me but I’ll maybe write more about it in the future.

Moment #2 => A former Manager (who’s now my current Manager again …. funny enough) …. mentioned that I’ve been stretched so thin during a personal and casual discussion prior to Lunch. I was desperate to avoid any “non-work” discussions with them the morning of going in to the office…. but that desperation left once I got on the subway…. Hearing them acknowledge “what I knew” …. but “got on with it anyway” …. Was likely… and finally… the moment for me to “ditch” the athlete mentality while “on the job” …. office jobs are tough when it comes to executing and closing out all processes. I’m not someone who likes to “lay blame” or mention any others “coming up short” …. I want the tide to raise all boats…. I don’t want to be a speed boat that’s able to race out to whatever location in the world (to find the ideal “tide”) …. and leave behind those who I started the journey with.

Therin lies the rub… and therin lies the comparative to the struggle with acknowledging that “I am a have” ….. However, I’m gaining closure on the “challenges of life” … by discussing these pieces with my parents …. asking them more in depth questions due to getting much closer during the pandemic. Closer to “who they were” prior to moving us to Canada. Closer to why they live the lifestyle they currently do and their steadfast belief that all of their sacrifices since the early 90s are “for us” (the kids haha). In reality … they moved for the betterment of themselves and they had dreams for us. Dreams that if we could accomplish, would increase their own self reflection on their choice to move to Canada. It’s a very challenging issue for them to “agree with me on” … because I truly believe their lives would be much more phenomenal and fulfilling “back home” … however, no one can predict the future and we have no time machines … any one of us could have ended up caught up in crime (by accident or by choice) at a much much higher rate of probability in Jamaica. That’s the truth of it … and what led to their choice for us.

Anyway, I’ve had the pleasure of learning MUCH MUCH more about myself since the start of 2020 and I’m thankful for every single second of it. 2021 and 2022… were absolutely strange times for me. Not having the ability to “play sports with the boys” haha… has been a MAJOR “hurt” for me.

The remainder of 2022 and 2023 onwards… will truly be focused on “being kind to myself” as a priority …. and that is truly what it means to be a “have” is what I’ve come to realize… I won’t forget what my life was like when I couldn’t “be kind to myself” …. because I had to “survive” and make sure I did everything to ensure that my parents dreams and efforts were not wasted on me. I’ll still wonder “why me” and “why not Cousin 1, 2 or 3” …. who are just as capable or much more capable than I am …. but this is just “the way it worked out” …. and I need to continue to do what I do best…. execute and capitalize.

I love my family dearly. They love me dearly. The have expectations and look up to me to capitalize on the opportunities that I come across… I’m sure they also understand the “why” of me doing some things the way I do …. regardless of whether it’s the same choice they would have made themselves.

I can no longer “split myself into two” …. to ensure that I still have one eye on the life I “came from” …. it’s all one story within the same narrative of growth at the end of the day… and here I am… clean and clear of the past “as always” …. taking the core lessons from the shoulders that stood on the prior ones…. to enable me to have my opportunities going forwards. I plan to do the same … every time I can … within reason … as long as I be kind to myself first.

That has always been “priority #1” (of many close friends who know me well haha)…. but it hits much much differently now. I’m very proud of coming to this realization even if it is … probably 10–15 years “too late” haha … God’s timing is always “perfect timing” as they say (whomever “they” are).

Merci et a bientot!!!

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Ajani O

U of T Grad... Project Management Career Seeking Extraordinary Human Being...