This Free to Spiel guest feature has been written by my pal, JP (you can find him on IG here). We met a few years ago at a work event, and I can’t even begin to tell you how infectious his positive energy is!
In the feature, JP opens up about how leading a life of luxury and indulgence whilst working in the corporate sector came to an end when he admitted the truth about his true purpose in life. Since then, he has had a huge career change moving into the charity sector (but not before travelling around the world for 2 years), building strong relationships and networks and developing communities across south London.
Thanks for sharing your Free to Spiel story, JP…over to you!
“…my purpose in life is to connect with people, build relationships and bring people together“
From a very early age, I realised that my purpose in life is to connect with people, build relationships and bring people together. This has been reinforced by the diversity of my friendships, the depth of interactions with people and the quality of my relationships. It has been underpinned by an understanding and ethos of ‘same same, but different’ – essentially we are all the same when we strip away our possessions.
Furthermore, I’m driven by my inner magnetism for knowledge not in books but in people, by a natural joy and ability to connect with others from all over the world and have a laugh regardless of perceived barriers such as language, age and wealth.
In terms of defining who I am when it comes to labels, segments and titles, then I am a south Londoner, marketer, community developer, traveller, songwriter, Liverpool supporter, sweetcorn lover, expert tea maker, son, husband and father.
The following is a video about my role helping communities during COVID-19:
“my morals and true self were being compromised (to put it politely) and replaced by greed, envy and lust”
When I was in my mid-20s, I was referred to a counsellor as a result of leading an overindulgent lifestyle afforded by a well-paid job in marketing.
I had been enjoying all the trappings of fancy hotels, restaurants and living a life – all of which had a detrimental effect on how I treated my body, women to an extent and relationships with those who cared about me.
Over the course of six counselling sessions, I was able to admit the truth I had known deep down for some time, about how my morals and true self were being compromised (to put it politely) and replaced by greed, envy and lust – basically the seven deadly sins.
This started my journey out of the corporate world and into the charity sector, swapping the rat race for profit, for a career focused on developing and supporting people and communities. It still took me two years to finally leave that job (I worked with nice people and had bills) and when I did I packed my bags and went travelling around the world for nearly two years. Travelling was probably the best decision of my life, and it’s an experience I feel very privileged to have had.
It also made me realise that counselling is a valid option, and shouldn’t be something to be embarrassed about. I would also say that having a nice, down to earth and non-judgmental counsellor is key. There are some who haven’t got a clue how to talk or listen to people; swerve them quickly, you’ll know within 2 minutes of meeting them!
“I’m well aware that it’s better to share, but you have to want to share in the first place“
So there’s pre-travelling Jonathan, and post travelling Jonathan (aka JP). For some reason I thought it’d be cool to change my name a bit, plus JP (my initials) is so much easier to say than Jonathan by people whose first language isn’t English.
As a result of this, people fall into two groups: people who have known me most of my life call me Jonathan, and those who refer to me as JP have met me since 2014. I kind of let it run, even after getting back home.
Asides from telling and recollecting endless travel stories and near death experiences, I don’t think there is too much difference in myself – other than getting older and becoming better at knowing when to have that last drink before it’s too late and you’re out out (NB: this is the British term for going out for a big night of drinking, such as to a club).
I think this is mainly down to the fact that I’ve always kept the down times in house, always overcome my own battles without needing anyone else. It’s something I’ve learnt to do from a very early age, and good or bad it has kept me in good stead and given me strength to overcome challenges. I have shared these times with certain people at times, like close friends, my mum, and even a random counsellor when it gets bad; I’m well aware that it’s better to share, but you have to want to share in the first place.
This means that the majority people only see my positive, caring, think-he-is-funny and adventurous side, which is cool for the most part – although it does mean that people always assume that I’ll be alright, will always land on my feet and that I live a life where everything is okay. However, truth be told, no-one is always fine, and there have been times when this positive perception has had a negative effect, such as when I was unemployed or going through self-inflicted relationship drama.
Now being older though, I have started to share my feelings more. I also channel how I feel into songwriting, which has been beneficial, but also at the same time makes me feel a little more vulnerable as I’m letting my guard down. I guess it’s one of those battles for balance and inner peace in life – but either way, I’m lucky to have people in my life who genuinely care for me.
“Genuine positivity is found in action and reactions […] not in the safety of a well-worn path or in the shadows of others’ words“
There are endless positive quotes that people can reel off and post on social media, but until you actually practice what you preach, it’s just nice words with no real value – short term stimulation before you need another hit to cheer you up.
Genuine positivity is found in action and reactions, through experiencing the ups and downs in life and not in the safety of a well-worn path or in the shadows created by the words of others. To find your own positivity, you need to live life and trust your soul.
The key for me when it comes to being and staying positive is found through building resilience, practising gratitude, and always putting things into perspective. You have to focus on what you have and remember that one moment should not define your whole story – or even whole day for that matter. Being grateful for what you have is a proven way of being able to remain positive and find balance. The sooner you can align that with your life, the more fulfilled you will become.
Obviously this is all easier said than done, and we must acknowledge and allow space for all the hypocrisy, pressures, artificial intelligence and classical conditioning of modern society as well. Positivity is often defined by how people react to what you do have, the speed of your acquisitions, the ease and comfort in conformity and how we are influenced by intense, constant offline and online marketing techniques.
So basically, be grateful, manage expectations and don’t be too hard on yourself!
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