In this installment of Our Stories, despite the absence of a consistent male role model in his earlier years, Anthony shares how he motivated himself to be an exemplary man.…For many people, Jamaica is pictured as an island paradise- white sandy beaches, a beautiful and vivacious culture, rich and wholesome food, and attractive people. And while that image is not far from the truth if the lens is focused on the inspirational stories of ordinary Jamaicans, you’d find a sharper, richer, and truer image of the Jamaican experience… this is Our Stories!
Meet *Anthony Hamilton -a 24-year-old resident of St. Catherine
Anthony was never taught valuable life lessons such as financial literacy, the value of education, or emotional stability. The absence of these lessons sent him down a downward spiral in life until he became a mentee of a successful businessman. It was at that time he was exposed to renewing experiences and environments and introduced to self-help materials such as books that have helped to reshape his thought process and his outlook on life. He is now working in a decent corporate job. He is an involved member of his church and is continuously trying to improve his quality of life.
1- How would you describe your childhood?
it was okay I guess, not the best though but I survived
2. What was the greatest challenge for you while growing up?
My father’s absence was the greatest challenge of my life.
Well because of his absence, my mother was the primary caregiver for me and my siblings. At times I think it was stressful for her and the stress would make her angry. As a child, I couldn’t recognize that she was angry at the situation and stressed because of all she had to do so I took her anger personally to me and distanced myself. Because of my father’s absence, I didn’t [receive] any guidance or real input from any male figures, there was never anyone there to really show me how to be a man. The absence of my father plus the effect that it had on my relationship with my mother made me vulnerable. For me, it made me weaker and less headstrong I was susceptible to a lot of negative things like crime, violence, drugs, and alcohol, I felt like I didn’t have a life purpose.
4. Did you live with both parents at any stage of your childhood?
No, my parents broke up when I was smaller. I lived with my mother and siblings.
5- So how often did you spend time with your father?
Umm, he was barely there honestly. I guess he would give lunch money and stuff for me and I would most likely see him when family came to visit from overseas, he would come get me but I would spend most of the time with my cousins and relatives that came to visit. He would also call on my birthday to wish me happy birthday and we would have a small conversation that’s all.
6- How would you describe your relationship with your mother?
Complicated but I love her. It was hard you know she was a single parent and she had to manage it all on her own. I think the stress got to her at times and she would just come off as angry, I hated those times. I was a bit resentful but the older I got the more I understood the reasoning.
7- Do you have any resentment towards her now?
No, it’s just respect now… I understand the levels. I thought she was angry at me before but it was just the stress of the situation. We good now it’s all love and respect.
8- How would you describe your relationship with your father?
Distant, it’s is a work in progress but a mi boss still respect to him.
9- Do you have any resentment towards your father for not being present in your life?
Yow dat rough, I guess a do a little bit. I just always wondered why he wasn’t there but over time I just cared less.
10- Would you say that you have experienced an identity crisis?
Yes, when I was a youth especially around 18.
11 – What would you say influenced this crisis?
Just life, my family situation, I used to keep a lot of bad company and some real violent music.
12. Can you describe how you felt when you listened to this music?
Violent I felt really violent like I was in a rage.
13- How did you get out of this time of crisis, what helped you?
I just sat down one day and had a strong medz with myself. I started going to church, I read a lot of self-help books, I dropped my bad company then eventually I finished school and got an internship opportunity then I met a great mentor who has helped to motivate and influence me to find my purpose.
14- How have your life experiences affected your emotional health?
As a man or even as a boy your not expected to express yourself in certain ways or really show emotion. I felt pressure to always be in control but for a while probably from about 19 – 21 I was emotionally unstable because my emotions built up over the years and I never had a safe space to express them or figure what they were and why I was feeling this way. I thought I had to keep it cool so that’s what I did until I realized keeping it cool was definitely not the best because that could have lead to many unwanted things like not being in control of your actions just acting on impulse of what has built up, depression and negative thinking.
15 – Are you able to express yourself currently without challenges ?
No, I am very cautious of how I express myself and sometimes I overthink it then I don’t express anything at all or I become very vague.
16. What words of encouragement would you share with young men going through an identity crisis?
Believe in yourself and don’t follow up people, it will bring you down. No matter what you do in life people will always talk about you so don’t let the negativity make you stagnant. Sometimes we follow what people say so much that we start believing the negative things that they say about, we give their words power and that’s bad. Don’t let anybody stop your progress no matter how difficult life may seem. Find a goal to focus on and achieve it one step at a time.
Powerful words! Thanks for sharing your story, Anthony!
*Name changed on request