by Jason Samatas
A long-time Chicagoan, Jason now lives in a part of the country he’s always dreamed of living: near the mountains. Just outside of Boulder, CO, Jason now enjoys all that living in the West provides, although he will always have Chicago in his blood.
We just passed Thanksgiving and we now officially enter the Christmas season. The holiday ads are out in full force, commercializing Christmas as much as they possibly can. Prior to Thanksgiving, we were inundated with reminders to embrace family, cherish our togetherness, and to have gratitude for what we have. It’s not that I disagree with any of these things, but I personally don’t like getting hit over the head with messages about gratitude, family, and togetherness. I like to think I practice those things (and more!) on a consistent basis. Do I really need some random Instagram contact I have who posts an IG message with the words “gratitude” on it to remind myself to have gratitude? I once read an article about “toxic positivity”, which is a close cousin to toxic masculinity. In my definition, toxic is anything that poisons a concept (whether it be masculinity, positivity or something else) to the point of excess, or to the extreme.
Are we overloaded with toxic positivity around the holiday season? I think we are. I can appreciate the intent, which is to promote an abundance of good. But I also see the hollowness in much of it, particularly in the media and on social media. And it makes me ask myself this question; what are these holidays really about?
Yes, of course it’s a time for togetherness, family, community, etc. All of that is true. But for me, I’m finding that I need to do a better job better defining what the holidays really mean to me. I can choose to get annoyed with the constant barrage of messages – which, admittedly, I still do. Or, I can choose to better define what matters to me. I can decide what messages to take it – maybe even some that have been lost. And mostly importantly, I can choose how I celebrate the holidays.
I love the freedom of choice – a simple concept that is easy to forget. When I step back and think about how much of my life is a choice, it’s amazing because it’s so much more than I think! We all choose things every day, some consciously and maybe some subconsciously. But we choose.
So what I’m choosing to do this holiday season is to define what I want. What matters to me, who I want to connect with and what outside forces will I choose to allow to impact me? I will also choose my perspective. I could continue to choose to be annoyed by the message overload. Or better yet, I can change my perspective, ignore the messages that feel inauthentic, and create my own holiday reality of what feels right and good. Choice.
On that note, I wish you all a wonderful holiday season of choosing.
Jason is a part of MenLiving because of how much it has been a part of his personal development over the past number of years. Having gone through a difficult divorce and a number of family and career challenges, Jason reevaluated aspects of his life that were no longer serving him with the love and support of MenLiving members behind him. As he went through the process (and still is!), he realized how many men were there to support his journey. Now, in any way he can, he tries to give back that same support which was so critical to his own well-being.
What inspires Jason most is seeing men open up, be vulnerable, and take chances. Jason took the “safe path” in so many ways for much of his life, and now gets pumped to see men take the “edgier path” in any aspect of one’s circumstances. He’s eternally grateful to all that have supported him in his journey and seeks to reciprocate that same support to other men as they embark on their own journeys.