The Summer I Became a Man

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The Summer I Became a Man

The Summer I Became a Man

by Kimanzi Constable

Losing everything broke him and taught him what’s truly important in life.

I had to grow up pretty quickly. At 17, I was kicked out of my home. I was a teenager who should have been thinking about hanging out with my buddies, but instead, I was worried about where I would sleep at night. I tried to be responsible and go to high school while working three jobs. It became too much to handle Algebra, crazy coworkers and the uncertainty of my living situation. When something had to give, it was high school because I needed to make money to survive. I dropped out of high school at 17. As I walked out of those doors, I could see every dream I had dying.
Something inside me snapped when I hit my twenties.
It wasn’t all bad news because, at one of my jobs, I met the woman who would become my wife. We were married the day after I turned 18. We started our lives together, and she encouraged me to go back and get my G.E.D.—I did. We built a solid foundation and had our first child a year after we married. We had a second and third child before I turned 25. During that time, I went through a series of jobs—13 to be exact. Each one did pay more than the last, but none of them were fulfilling. My life was a routine; I had no clue what it meant to actually live life. Something inside me snapped when I hit my twenties. I got married young and didn’t have a chance to do what youngster’s normally do. I suddenly wanted to go to clubs, drink more and get into mischief with my buddies. It started slow, but I have an addictive personality, so things escalated. I found myself coming to work drunk, which wasn’t good because I drove a truck. I would party all night and was a zombie through life. I wasn’t around for my wife or children; there was a stretch where they didn’t know me. When I was home, I was an jerk. I don’t know why my wife stayed with me. Life went on this way until 2011. The beginning part of that year was when everything came crashing down on my head. I was 170 pounds overweight, we were $180,000 in debt, I had a business that was falling apart, and my wife finally had enough. We separated that year on the way to a quick divorce because of my cheating. The truth is she should have left me a long time ago. I was not a man. I had no clue what it meant to be a man. I sat there on the living room floor of a friends house crying. My car had just been repossessed, and I didn’t have a single penny to my name. After crying most of the morning, I started to think about my life. I had the most honest conversation I had ever had with God and myself. I knew that I wanted a better life, but it seemed impossible to get from where I was to where I wanted to be.

The Shift

I knew that if I was going to change, there had to be a shift in my mind. I had to stop being skeptical of “success;” I had to stop waiting for permission, and I had to formulate a plan. Changing the way I thought about my life, and what I wanted it to be, helped me take the first steps towards a better life. I became a man in the summer of 2011 because I realized that life was more than just fulfilling my selfish needs. I became a man when I took responsibility for the choices I was making. I became a man when I went back home and put my wife and kids first. I became a man when I stopped making excuses and scarified wants for needs.
Guys, if you are where I was for all those years, STOP!
It took a long time to convince my wife that I wasn’t the jerk she had come to hate. It took a long time to reconnect with my kids, but I did. Thank God my family forgave me. I wake up every day realizing how blessed and lucky I am that things turned out differently. I know it doesn’t work out this way for a lot of guys. It took three years, but I lost the weight, paid off all the debt, and moved our family to our dream destination of Maui, Hawaii. We wake up everyday living a life we were convinced wasn’t possible because of who I was. Guys, if you are where I was for all those years, STOP! It may be fun to party, drink and sleep around, but it gets old, and life is too short to waste it on moments of pleasure. There is more to life than what makes us feel good. Create a business or get a job you love, stay healthy, live where you will be happy. Choose to love every day and back that decision up by the actions you take. Live life fully present. Live each day as if it were the last because it may be. This is YOUR life, and you only get one shot to make it count. I became a man in 2011 and remember what life is like every time I’m tempted to slip. I’m going to make my life count. Stop waiting for permission to live the kind of life you want to live and do all the things that seem impossible. It’s NOT easy and it will take time–a lot of time–but your dream life is worth the struggle. Don’t let doubt, fear, or the negative voices of others keep you skeptical of what’s possible.

If you could send a message back in time to a younger version of yourself, what advice would you share to help yourself become a better Man?

-Please share your answer in the comments section below-
Kimanzi Constable is an Author, Public Speaker, Coach and Entrepreneur. He is also a contributing writer for Huffington Post and Entrepreneur Magazine. Through his work, Kimanzi Constable helps men and women create freedom in their work, health, and relationships at http://kimanziconstable.com/

This article was originally published by Kimanzi Constable on The Good Men Project (May 2015).

Image Credit: "Drunk" by Kim Stromstad, Licensed by CC BY 2.0


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