This year marks my 11 year anniversary of moving back to Vancouver, and wouldn’t you know it, it coincides with Vancouver Pride Week. I should start by admitting that this is my second time living on the west coast. Back when I was 21, I lived here for 10 months, but my tenure wasn’t long. I was dismissed from my on-air job, and after an exhaustive search found a new one in Edmonton, Alberta.
Relocating to the capital city (of Alberta) was a good move both personally and professionally. I met tons of new friends, had a successful career and after 5 years in the “City Of Champions”, I was able to get back to the city I loved the most, Vancouver. What was odd was that when I left the ‘Champion City’, I didn’t feel like much of one. In fact, I felt like a loser and former shell of a man. I was dimmed, sad, my health had faded (shingles at 27??), and my smile wasn’t as bright.
The breaking point was when I left a bad 2-year relationship where I had allowed a former partner to say things to me that I now know border verbal abuse. In a nutshell, things like how I wasn’t important, my opinions weren’t valuable and didn’t matter, that I was constantly “stupid”, the worst part was - I started to believe him. I was also starting to believe that the very core of me was composed of failure.
In some ways, staying had its benefits. We had saved and built a lovely facade around us. I didn’t come from money but I was young and hustled. He had a great job too and all of a sudden we had ‘the house, the cars, the latest technology…..’, and if I left we would have to sell the condo that had been so beautifully decorated. Could I afford rent and car payments alone? If I was the one who decided to end this, then part of the punishment was the dog we shared was going to stay with him (which probably hurt the most). The threats and venom that were flowing were awful. I could go on listing more but let’s be honest- who cares. It was all “stuff” and I/you/we- are more important than that. We can get so caught up in the material things that we think give our lives importance. None of it does. It’s a blessing to have nice things, but it doesn’t augment your life’s importance. YOU are the reason your life is important, and what you do with your life will decide the true value.
I’m not sure why it took me a long time to figure out. But suffice to say, the root of it was I had stopped being “TRU” to myself. It’s not something I openly share these days as it feels like such a long time ago, and I don’t need a “woe is me” response. It is, however, an important message as we get into the Pride season of speaking out about our “TRUths”. My successes will always hinge on my failures- or “lessons” as I like to call them these days. As Denis Waitley wrote “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end.”
Isn’t it interesting how we can look back at different times and situations in our lives, and past selves and think “WHAT THE HECK WAS I DOING"??
Sometimes we permit others into our lives, share our energy, and enable the theft of something so precious - our identity. And other times in these situations the very things that make us special can get ignored, or worst of all - wasted.
It’s fascinating and important to revisit this in order to learn, forgive, move forward and get to a higher ground.
What I do know is this. Somehow, 11 years ago, I found the little strength I had left and decided to dig in deep and start living authentically again. This, my friends, was NOT going to be my “TRUth” anymore! I took the leap of faith, invested back in myself and decided to look for my “TRUth”, my worth, and start acting like it again. I packed up the car with the new dog that I adopted 3 days before my road trip (my now 11-year-old trusted companion Wermmy!) and off we drove to Vancouver. I knew a city like ours could reignite and engage my soul. It is such a wonderful place to live and be. Not only did I clear my head and my heart, but I took a stronger focus on my health. For the past 2 years, my current boyfriend Tuna (we’ve been together for almost 4) and I have gotten into Crossfit. Our meals are rich in protein and vegetables. I meditate to keep my stress levels down and say “NO” to things that don’t ameliorate my level of happiness. Heck, I even got rid of my daily 2 creams / 2 sugar coffee habit and replaced it with withinUs TruOrganic™ Matcha - talk about a caffeine kick to get me through work and classes (I am actually obsessed with the way it tastes!).
Most of all, I put me first again. Not in a selfish way, just in a “self-first” way. As RuPaul says “If you can’t love yourself how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” Yes Ru, you can get an “Amen” for that. It’s so crucial that you take care of yourself, find whatever “TRUth” puts a glow inside your soul, and celebrate the PRIDE in who you are. Love hard, and don’t allow anyone to tell you that you are anything less than wonderful.
Jonny Staub is one of our amazing withinUs Ambassadors, and radio host of the top rated morning show in Vancouver, BC. He has also worked in markets including Toronto, Calgary, and Edmonton. A successful on-air coach and mentor, he thrives on growing "up and coming" talent and has a passion for media training.
He's a Crossfit athlete who also nerds out drawing comic books in his spare time and loves a North Shore hike with his boyfriend "Tuna" (Jason), and their two dogs Tacos (Wermmy) and GusGus.