Mental Health Awareness Month 2022: A Tale of Two (Three) Mikes

Gather around the fire as we dive into week two of Mental Health Awareness Month 2022. The other week we took a dive into my life without social media. The whole point of my Mental Health Awareness Month is to allow myself to be vulnerable and learn to share topics I typically don’t talk about in the everyday. Part of the journey is rewriting each article and getting the vibe ‘right’. So for today, we’re diving into my identity in what I hope to be a fun article as I explore who I am. So sit back and relax as we go through a younger Mike.

Mikey

I’ve been called Mikey throughout the years. It’s an endearing name and honestly one I wished people used more. My Dad always called me Mikey and a few close friends as well but most opted for Mike. For this example I’m using it describe a more innocent, nerdier, insecure Mike. Cause let’s face it, we all have insecurities. When I was younger I had a speech impediment growing up to the point where I needed a speech therapist throughout Elementary school. Couple that with an IEP (individual education plan) and craniosynostosis (my skull literally being taken apart when I was a baby) and I was a recipe for insecurity. Most I’ve outgrown but there are still a couple insecurities that linger.

It wasn’t until 6th grade where I started to become overtly self conscious. I was a care free kid who simply existed. I was the curious sort, always exploring and my focus took many years to master; growing up, if it didn’t interest me, I simply wouldn’t do it. Homework assignments would get left undone and while I had mild OCD, I eventually outgrew it. So, as insecure as I was, it wasn’t all bad. I loved the history channel and discovery channel (before their great fall, back when they were actually educational). A day after school would typically be spent watching “How it’s Made” or a World War II documentary. My love of learning has been consistent throughout my life and with knowledge has come great power. I talked a lot when I was younger and I have to wonder what happened to that spark. While I still talk a lot, there’s some of that childhood innocence that has been lost. What I say nowadays is within the framework of how I want to be perceived but there was a certain joy simply talking about everything that interested me when I was younger. However, when I was younger, my sentences would come off as gibberish and my wonderful memory would typically betray me as I would remember details about others they had completely forgotten. I could not give speeches and I could not communicate. Or perhaps I was simply being too hard on myself. An obsession with perfection and a desire to please everyone created obstacles that seem rather silly now.

Michael

The beast I unleashed into the wild. My entire life, I have never used Michael. It was not until I reached the college of business that I opted for the more formal name. Often I wonder what I have done. With each name, I’ve preferred to change my personality slightly to fit the roles that were needed of me. Michael once represented my ideal self, the man I strived to be. It was a way to separate myself from the nerdier (and insecure) aspects of my life. Long winded conversations, video games, the works. I was in college, so I was essentially a new man. And it worked. While I still used Mike among friends, when I networked I was solely known as Michael. Michael takes on a slightly more biblical name and I enjoyed it for a while.

Fast forward to present day and it’s a tougher question to answer. I have told people for many years that I have no preference: call me Michael, call me Mike, call me Mikey. In Germany I was Michel (pronounced Mikkel) and in Spanish I am Miguel. Any name you choose I won’t mind. But this last month I have started to wonder if this is really the case. I have turned my name, my identity into something nonchalant, something that I don’t care about. As with all things in mental health, I’m taking the time to evaluate. Michael would still be fun to use, but only on occasion.

Using Michael was necessary in college but for however many benefits it had, there were also downsides. The most notable is I’ve used it as a defense mechanism. Think of it as a tiered trust system. Michael is more formal, colder in tone than Mike or Mikey. I’ve gone as far as reverting my name from Mike to Michael in formal greetings when upset. How the habit started, I do not know. It’s kept a distance between myself and my professional life, a boundary I no longer need. So after this month I’m going to start making an effort to go by Mike. I won’t correct people if they call me other names but I think it’s time to have a preferred name.

Mike

My preferred name and my identity. The Mike that represents my two halves, now one. A nerdy Mike and a Mike that can communicate. My new ideal, after spending years working on myself. I still have a ways to go, but I’m happy with where I am. In college, there were a lot of pieces to the puzzle that didn’t quite fit and that are now starting to fall into place. I was so focused on my professional self that I lost a lot of what had made me charming in the first place. Coming back home has been a way to reconcile that. It hasn’t been easy but looking back I think I made the right call. I got to spend time with my dad while he was sober and before he passed away, a decision I never thought I’d make. It’s been great spending time with my mom and most old wounds have started to heal. I’ve learned a lot about my family dynamic and I truly believe it has changed me for the better. I can’t choose how each moment of my life plays out but my life is an accumulation of every choice I’ve made; I have to trust that each action is pushing me in the right direction. Had I set out on my own after college, I don’t know if I would have been better off.

I used to hate the imperfect pieces of the puzzle, never quite fitting into place. My reality was dictated by many “what if’s” and I would reach extremes that would isolate me from everyone. Now life has a much more balanced approach and negative reflection of the past has become relatively rare and never to the point of obsession, like it once was. This Mike meditates, this Mike reads about stoicism. I talk about games, movies, and shows that I enjoy while relating to others. There is a held confidence about myself that I’ve nurtured and I no longer have to pretend I am something I’m not. I enjoy Mental Health Awareness Month as I give myself a space to look closely at my life. The act of drafting is just as beneficial as publishing if not more so. Often, it is the process of writing and rewriting an article that in and of itself is the benefit. There is so much I wanted to write about but realized there is a time and place. What is meant for the public eye and what is meant for my eyes alone? It’s an interesting process of self reflection and really helps with my articulation of tough topics.

Three Names, One Man

It would be easy to stop at ‘Mike’ but I wanted to take the time to dive in and reflect a little more on myself as a person. This article has been rewritten many times for the sake of keeping it more on the lighthearted side. The article could have gone down a very different path but I wanted to ensure it didn’t. My writing is a reflection of who I am and my blog is a representation of my personal journey. A Mental Health Awareness Month series has risks as I am sharing a bit of myself with each post. Too much, shared without finesse, disengages the reader. Too little and it doesn’t give the reader a reason to care.

I exaggerated my personas for this article with purpose as I’m struggling with a bit of an identity crisis I didn’t realize I had until earlier this year. On LinkedIn I am Michael and eventually this bled into work and then to everyday life. So once I hit publish on this article, I’m going to be focused on rebranding. Mike should be my everyday, my default. There is no longer a need to separate myself and perhaps in the process, I’ll rediscover Mikey.


Thanks as always for reading! We are almost done with Mental Health Awareness Month! My last article will most likely be on my Father. Stay tuned for next week!

February 2022 Newsletter: Is Love in the air?

How’s it going?

February is moving along. It’s a strange time in my life right now. I’ve finally found some stability amidst the chaos and I am able to take it one day at a time. I work about 13 hours a week and for the moment, the extra free time has been nice. No more 40 hours a week, wake up at 3am and get home by 1pm. Just simple evening shifts and a morning shift on Sundays. I know this cannot last forever but it’s been nice during the Pandemic to finally have a chance to catch my breath. Eventually, I’ll need to be working fulltime again and even consider continuing my education to add more capital to myself.

Outside of work, I have been doing a lot more walking as per my new years resolution. I’ve gotten way too into Pokémon Go and have been battling my way across my neighborhood for the last couple months or so. For whatever reason, I’ve been getting more shinies in the last year than I have in my entire 20 years of playing Pokémon.

For the blog

This month is going to be relatively low key. My ‘State of the Blog’ post took slightly longer than expected and landed into the first week of February rather than the last week of January. Nothing too crazy there. The plan is consistency and this year should have everything I want to write about finalized. For this month I’ve been brainstorming a poem and while it’s not quite ready yet I’m excited to be writing a poem since it’s been a hot minute since my last one.

Other Things

I tried Yoga for the first time the other day! It was surprisingly enjoyable. It involves stretching (which I suck at), exercise (been a hot minute) and a mix of meditation (which I have been rocking). Cooking has yet to manifest itself but I grow tired of frozen burritos and potstickers so I imagine it’s only a matter of time. My bike is prepped and ready to ride, so now that I have a job I’ll probably try commuting to work everyday.


Thanks for reading! As we gear up for March, the blog will start to pick up. April is National Poetry Month, May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and July is my Sustainability Month. For now, I get to take a breath and enjoy the calm.

State of the blog: 2022

Ah, January. A month of promise, a month of hope. With my resolutions written, it is time to take a look at my blog. My bastion, my slice of the internet. Whatever storm weathered, this is my safest port (if not my only port in the storm). With this post, I wanted to take the time to talk about the past and look forward to the future. All my plans and dreams (blog related), laid out for the world to see.

2020

A lot of planning went into my blog for the year and the effort showed. My goal was to provide consistency without burnout and to that end I am extremely proud of the work I’ve done. I have no pressure to write and have a lot of freedom when it comes to what I write. I’ve situated myself as a poetry, short stories, and articles blog and made the brand Mike Cole, so there’s no confusion as to what you’re getting into.

2021

I could better understand what was working and what could be improved upon. Overall, a great year. A year of growth and progress and I really have no complaints. Some minor tweaks here and there and 2022 is poised to be another great year.

Come this year

I didn’t want to take too long going over the last couple years as this year is the most exciting to me. This year is simply refinement of the core concepts developed in 2020 and 2021.

The Newsletter

The Newsletter is now official. It was experimental in 2020 and was my way of adding cohesion to the blog itself. In the past, if I disappeared for a while, I would occasionally write an update to let people know what was going on. The problem was, it would be completely random. By having a monthly update 7 or 8 times a year, I’m able to better communicate what’s going on. I find it enjoyable to give a glimpse into my life and the reception to the updates has been fantastic. The Newsletter had a bit of a branding crisis early on but this year I’ve worked out most of the kinks and have a better idea of what I want the purpose of the posts to be.

Series

In 2020, when I made the decision to make my blog a more consistent, cohesive experience I looked into what specifically that would look like. The Newsletters were a big aspect of that change. Every month, even if it was a busy month, there would be a newsletter; I wanted practice writing them and it makes a lot of sense from a blogging perspective. The second aspect of the blog was to give myself a time and place to write about what I enjoyed. Up till this point, the articles I wrote were great but once again inconsistent.

Short Stories

For the series, I decided early on there needed to be four. This gave my content a rounded out feeling and would allow me to have exciting content throughout the year. Short Stories are something I had always pondered writing but usually make me blush in embarrassment with how dorky they can be. I equate them to a similar experience as a D and D campaign (I have only played one, I swear!).

The reason I’ve been so adamant regarding scheduled time to write short stories is I truly believe it helps with creative thinking and problem solving. I love any activity that challenges my brain so being able to create a world from nothing is extremely enticing. What I’ve written has garnered positive feedback and it’s an aspect I’ve been wanting to expand upon for a while now.

Sustainability Month

Years of brainstorming and it’s finally come to form. I picked two issues I cared about and chose those as my hills to die on. Sustainability has been near and dear to my heart ever since I was a young lad. My first memory is that of the garden we had at my preschool, picking peas from a pod and remembering how delicious they tasted. In my later years, I joined Students for Environmental Action and built a community garden at my high school. In college, we had a garden in our backyard and even made our own compost from our leftovers. Now, I can at the very least write.

Last year was the first year I started my sustainability series. It was exciting, fun, and for the most part lighthearted (except for the Oregon wild fires). This year, I plan to continue all that was good from the last year and expand upon it. Sustainability is a broad topic so it gives me a lot of ground to cover. I could talk about corporate greed, consumerism, and all in-between. I can also talk about walking, cooking, and all other manner of fun topics. The goal is for the series to be engaging and not go into climate crisis mode. There are many pieces written nowadays that stress the urgency of action but as far as effectiveness I don’t know if I believe it works. I’ve read about terms such as “climate anxiety” and it all seems very peculiar to me. Our world is complicated and my hope is to make it simpler. I’m excited for what this year brings!

Mental Health

Mental Health is a tough subject to talk about. In my everyday, I brush it off when in the company of others. I tell everyone everything is fine and it’s rare I’ve been vulnerable around anyone. A lot has happened to me the last couple years so the articles planned for this year will reflect that. I have a rough outline of what I want to talk about and overall I’m excited to share as I work through my life. This year will be a mix as I experiment with articles, only one is planned to be heavy subject matter with the rest being general mental health articles that are more on the lighthearted side.

Poetry Month

Celebrating national poetry month was fantastic last year. I opted to return to form to when I had started this blog all the way back in 2015. A simpler time filled full of questions of the weeks and a bunch of random other topics as I tried to gain a foothold on my chaotic world. It is rare that I have the opportunity to reach back into the past and pull it into the present, so the fact I can for poetry month has brought a smile to my face.

Most poems I write nowadays I simply write and leave up to the readers interpretation. I have my inspiration but the beauty of poetry is applying your own meaning to the poem you’ve read. To make poetry month special, I brought back analyzing poetry from my ‘Fruitful Friday’ series, a now ancient relic of a bygone era. The best part is now the analysis is of my own poetry rather than famous poets. Poetry month will stay the same for this upcoming year.

In Sum

There won’t be any major changes this year. The website is easy to read and follow and the content has been solidified. I am talking about what I want to talk about and the final piece of the puzzle has been resolved this last year. Horror Month is no more and Short Story month is here to stay. There are no creative restrictions and basically the sky is the limit for what I can write about. Two to three articles a month is reasonable for me and writing now takes top priority over other activities.


That’s it! This is just an overview for the upcoming year! Of course there will be updates through the Newsletters and more to come as we get closer the series. I’ll be back soon for the February Newsletter!

September 2021 Personal Newsletter: The Twilight of my Twenties

I am back! It honestly felt weird not writing throughout August but the break was nice. In the future, I think I’ll plan for a 3 week vacation and then write something towards the end of August. A month is a very long time.

The Month of October

I’ve been giving this month a lot of thought. And at the moment, I’ve settled on doing an Autumn celebration / horror month. I tried to stay away from horror and simply make it a short story month but that doesn’t really excite me to write. Any other genre would ultimately feel out of place and I just love the fall, so it really can’t be any other way. It’ll most likely be a two part horror short story, spread across multiple weeks. I like the idea of doing that rather than a one off. For the final week, it’ll be Autumn themed and a little bit more on the peaceful side for those who don’t like horror.

Sustainability Month

Was a huge success! For years I have wanted to talk about sustainability. ‘New Horizon’ was my first attempt to tackle the issues we face in a way that was fun and engaging. In other years, I’ve mulled through other sustainability projects that could potentially make their way onto the blog but for one reason or the other didn’t make the cut. This last year the pieces came together and I think the topic is worth a month dedicated to just talking about it. The topics were a lot of fun to write and my hope is to expand upon the foundation for next year.

Housekeeping and other musings

The big one, I’ve changed the name of the ‘Status Update’ to ‘Personal Newsletter’. I thought about just ‘Newsletter’ but then I was like, nah. This may not seem like a big deal but the verbiage lines up better with what is commonly used and the Business Major in me just can’t help myself. The ‘Series and Special Projects’ is more or less complete as far as format goes. As I start to write professionally, I’m starting to showcase more and more of my work, so it’s been helpful when people ask what I write just to send them to one place. And as far as traffic goes on the website, it makes it much easier for everyone to find the projects I put the most work into. Other than that, I’ve made slight updates to the flow of the website such as how many articles you see when you scroll. I opted for four as I typically write two to three articles in a given month, so it allows you to see the previous month as well as the newer content.

Outside of Blogging

Coding! That’s been my main priority other than finding a job. I’ve taken the last couple months to refocus my goals and landed on taking a 10 week website building course. I’ve been learning lots and hope to wrap up the course soon. I was also able to finish the first episode of a podcast and hope to practice writing more podcast scripts this upcoming year to see if it’s something I want to continue. The podcast is top secret for now but we’ll see down the road what happens with it. I still want to publish a book, but that is a very long term goal and I have quite a few things I need to figure out before I even feel comfortable doing so.

This Month

This month will be primarily articles! I’m in the mood to publish some topics that have been on my mind quite recently. The first will be on productivity apps I’ve been using and the other is undecided but I’m thinking an exercise related article might be in order.

Birthday Month

I am turning twenty eight this year! It’s hard to believe that in a couple years, I’ll be thirty. To be honest, I’m not thrilled to be hitting this age milestone but am hopeful good things are in store this year; I could use a break from what has been one of the most chaotic years of my life.


And that’s it for the newsletter! Next month will be all about horror with a sprinkle of seasonal celebration. If you like my content, I do have a Patreon and Ko-fi; the link will be listed below. And as always, thanks for reading!

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