Back when I slammed the door on love, I knew I needed to open a new door. I needed a substitute. As I saw it, most of life was about love because romantic love was the gateway to companionship and family.
My Facebook timeline was mostly love and family. I noticed back then that if you remove all Facebook posts about love and family from your feed, there's almost nothing left (FB was less news/article driven back then). I noticed people were living their lives through their families. Their family was the centerpiece—the hub—and everything else in their life was oriented around that.
I imagine married folks with kids may not notice this as much because family stuff—wedding photos, baby's first steps, birthday parties, tee ball—are very common to them.
But its nonstop, so single people notice. In the South, family is very important, and Facebook is the visual megaphone that warns single people...
This is where you're supposed to be. Get your act together as quickly as you can, and get on our level. Otherwise, you're going to be left behind.
Of course this is ridiculous.
There's nothing wrong with people showing off their families on social media. It's beautiful, really. But social media despair for single people is a thing—a really nasty side effect of the whole system.
I couldn't have love which ruled out the possibility of companionship and family. I needed a stand-in for love, a surrogate.
I know the spiritual answer to this situation is that God's love should be enough. In tough times, we are supposed to rely on Him, and deep down I was. But Jesus can't go to a movie or concert with you on the weekends. I'm not being sacrilegious, I'm just keeping it real. Jesus's current disembodied state in our physical dimension makes Jesus hangs tough. So I needed something else to get by.
People who know me know that I have a go-to phrase when I'm in ideation mode.
It's a setup that buys me a couple minutes to verbally work-out whatever's in my head.
The phrase is, "So I have this theory..."
After about a decade of watching the world grow up around me, I developed a theory for replacing the human desire for love. It was a two-part strategy, a double trade-off.
And the first trade-off was this...
I'll trade love for adventure.
My first few years in Atlanta, I lived lean.
I paid $350 per month to live in a dungeon of an apartment with two other guys. I ate microwaveable $3 meals from the frozen foods section at Wal-Mart. If I wanted to splurge, I'd go to Chipotle and get a $6 burrito bowl, no drink.
But by 2012, I'd been with the company for seven years and had gotten some raises. So I had some expendable income. Based off what my married friends told me, owning a home and having children was the equivalent of taking all your money, throwing it in an empty swimming pool, filling it to the brim with gasoline, and striking a match. Married people like to remind single people how much money and free time we have...
Trapp, you're living the dream, dude! You can buy and do WHATever you want, WHENever you want. Must be awesome! Enjoy it while you can bro, because once you have a family, you can kiss all that goodbye!
Got it, bro.
You'd think we single people were all gazillionaires spending our Tuesday nights in Barcelona nightclubs laughing, sipping Dom, and eating oversized prawns harvested fresh from the Mediterranean.
I was reminded of this so often by my married bro-friends, that I eventually started believing it.
Maybe they're right, Brett. You do have more freedom with time and money. You can do things they can't. They can have their love. You can have adventure. It's an even trade.
And so I began my quest for non-stop adventurous living.
While there would be no Barcelona nightclubs, travel would be a big part of the adventuring lifestyle. I'd always loved traveling, and now I had a little extra money to work with. And being a former fraternity man, I had a pool of travel buddies to pull from. It was time to let the adventures begin...
Thanks to Nick Saban and Alabama's success, I went to lots of football games in Tuscaloosa, followed by crazy nights out at the Houndstooth or Jupiter.
There were also trips to road games at places like Happy Valley in Pennsylvania...
And, because Nick Saban is a championship-winning cyborg from another planet, we got to take fun trips to cities like Pasadena and New Orleans for national championship games...
And there was a trip to Haiti to help post-earthquake relief efforts...
There was a trip to Guatemala with my work ppl...
And of course there was that Europe trip.
The second leg was with my buddy David, and we spent some time at a legendary bar in Brussels called Delirium which served over 2,000 beers. And because they apparently let babies drink in Belgium, we met 16-year olds in the bar which was very weird...
And there were ski trips. Lots of ski trips...
And New Years Eves in Atlanta...
And Halloweens as Waldo...
And nights out in Atlanta's Buckhead district...
And Buckhead nights with roommates that include really good selfie lighting courtesy of a glowing Red Bull cooler...
My life of adventure was a lot of fun—trips and celebrations and late nights out on the town.
And if you can keep your social calendar full, it doesn't give you a lot of time to be sad about not having love. It's quite distracting, quite numbing. And maybe—just maybe—I could keep this up forever...
Just keep adventuring, Brett. Keep adventuring 'til you die. You'll never even know what you missed.
But the trips always had a last day. The celebrations had to be cleaned up. And the nights out always had a closing time. Always.
And this was the sad time.
I remember back then, we'd walk home from a Buckhead watering hole around 2 or 3 AM. I'd had a few drinks, and people who've had a few sometimes make poor decisions. My poor decisions always involved Amazon Prime.
I'd get home, fall into my brown leather couch, and I'd open up that dangerous little app. And, for some reason, I always ordered scented candles. But not just one...I'd order many scented candles. And I only wanted the ones that were manly-scented, and you have to search Amazon hard to find manly-scented candles. Most of them are fruit or flower or beach based. But I was looking for ones that smelled like tobacco or leather or shrubbery or horse saddles, and those are harder to come by. But I'd always find what I was looking for, and I'd order them all.
The downside of this little habit was the next-day regret. The upside, however, was that our house smelled great back then, like what I'd imagine Vince Lombardi's house smells like in heaven.
You'd think that single 30ish year old men who bought scented candles on Amazon when tipsy wouldn't have to come out of the closet, but no one ever said anything. I guess they were just being nice.
Adventures come in all sizes. Trips to Europe are big adventures and buying man-candles in bulk are small ones, but they all served a purpose.
People who don't know how to deal with their pain need to numb it, and regular injections of adventure is one way to get the job done.
Working an insane number of hours Monday - Friday ensures your week moves quickly. And staying on the go, booking every weekend with travel ensures your Saturdays and Sundays are busy as well.
Busy people can avoid a lot of conflict, pain, and tough conversations. After video games, busyness is the ultimate avoidance strategy for our generation. It's the narcotic of choice for working millennials.
My friend and mentor Jeff Shinabarger has written a lot about this...
So, how are things going? Busy. This is the new common question and answer from me, from friends, from colleagues, from everyone. The common response in the past is to be fine, but now everything is busy. At some point, there was a transitional response that happened from fine to busy. There has been a cultural shift that defined busy was a better term than fine.
This was me...constantly telling people how busy I was. Work kept me busy during the week, and constant adventuring kept me busy on the weekends. This was by design.
It was the first part of my plan, and it was working like a charm.
But I was even more confident in the second part of my plan.
It was a lot cheaper, more accessible, and more consistent. It was something I'd been doing for years, but it was time to go all in. I knew it would make me love-proof.
Brett Trapp did not need love, and phase two of my plan was about to ensure that... 👊
All photos by Sterling Graves. Copyright Blue Babies Pink & Sterling Graves.
B.T. Harman is the creator of Blue Babies Pink, a Southern Coming Out Story in 44 Episodes.
B.T. is a consultant, writer, and speaker living in Atlanta's historic Cabbagetown neighborhood. He was previously a vice president for Booster, an Atlanta fundraising company, where he helped the organization raise $150 million for elementary schools.
B.T. is passionate about storytelling, leadership, good design, Seth Godin, SEC football, Chick-fil-A, Taylor Swift, archaeology, European Travel and CS Lewis.
To learn more about B.T., visit his personal site at btharman.com.