Stranger 62, Day 62 – Meet Kevin, the “Family Man”

Stranger 62, Day 62 - Meet Kevin

Today’s Stranger is actually the husband of a friend who I don’t actually know too well. This friend I’ve met at yoga, but we haven’t talked too much. In fact, we really talk in coincidental run-ins at Starbucks. As it so happens, I ran into her husband this afternoon at Starbucks. We don’t know each other well, and he’s never actually heard a Stranger story or read one. I figured this would be a great way of getting to know him.

Meet Kevin, 31

Who are you?

“In what sense? Professionally? Personally?” I shrug letting him pick the path he wants to put me on.

“I’m a husband. Wannabe father one day. Professional. Think of myself as a family man. An amateur athlete,” he laughs.

“… and a work-in-progress, I guess. That’s what I like to think of myself. I try not to set goals for myself, but try to make those goals ways of being. That’s why I say a husband and a good provider/ father. I don’t set goals for myself like ‘buy a house, have kids’. I think of them as roles that I’m continuously working towards. That’s about it!” Except he continues. “I’m a brother. I’m one of five boys and one girl. And I’m an uncle. Getting trained for those kids, maybe.” Kevin laughs again.

I do remember him having a dog when I’ve seen him before. “I have a dog, yes. Jenn refers to the dog as her fur-child. Had her for about 12 years, so she’s getting up there in age. She’s a good girl. Trying to get her yard, like I said. She’s introduced us to the outdoors if anything. Started us off with hiking and things. It kind of took us out of our element, and introduced us to something new.”

Thinking about you’re a work-in-progress. You don’t really set goals, per se. You do want to have kids, though. You’re an amateur athlete. (He points out, “amateur gym rat!”) Do you have any Dreams?

“Yeah, sure. I guess it just depends on where in my life you ask me that question. My dream when I was 10 is going to be drastically different than 15. I guess when I was a kid, I had an idea — I wanted to make a lot of money and have a good job. I guess I kind of set my goals to my brothers, and what they did. They were successful. I’m a workaholic, obviously, because I refer to that a lot.”

“But my dream’s just to be happy. I’ve kind of hit that point in my life, recently, to where I had to do a mental inventory of myself and my values. What I thought was in important, because for a while in your 20s, you get out of school, and you’re part of the whole rat race. You’re trying to get your first job/ internship. Then, I turned 30, and I got married. Jenn’s never really been like that. She’s always been very in-the-moment. Jenn’s my wife, by the way.”

“…And I just did a reset of my life which is interesting because I stopped making benchmark goals for myself, and started thinking about how I want to live. Once you set goals for yourself, and you achieve those goals, you kind of have a mid-life crisis because you realize those goals maybe define you. Once you’ve achieved them, then now what? But if you keep this ‘this is the way I want to be or the way I want to live’… that’s what I did. I got my values in line, and just work a little bit towards that everyday, you look at what’s in front of you rather than 10 years down the line. Achieving those things… is my dream — to be happy, and make my wife happy. That’s kind of my ecosystem. I’m not a professional baseball player. I’m cool with that. So I guess it’s evolved now as I’m older.”

So what are some of your values you’ve re-prioritized your life around?

“I don’t so much anymore look to the sides to see what Fred or Jane and the Andersons are doing. I’ve learned to keep my eye on my household and Jenn and me, and making sure we’re taken of. I’ve gone away from the whole materialistic way of being. I’ve questioned the American Dream lately. Is that the template? It has to be our lives? When you talk about goals, so I guess, I really don’t know. I’ve been doing a lot of  thinking lately to say what’s my American Dream? Is it the 2.5 kids and the house with the white fence? Or should maybe we have a conversation about what that is? I know a lot of people who aren’t happy. I kind of found myself in that rut four years ago.”

“My goal is to customize what I want my life to be, and not make it that cracker barrel, generic brand lifestyle.”

Four years ago, you were in a rut. What helped you get out of it?

“Turning 30. Approaching 30, and realizing… I don’t know. I was behind where I wanted to be in my life. And I was okay after a little crisis.” He thinks some more.

“Yeah, just I was burnt out. I was working a job I really didn’t like. Since then, I’ve gone on to something I’m actually studying about and passionate about. But yeah, I was just a wreck, you know? I found myself just in a routine. No day was different. I didn’t really take time to stop and look around, or do something interesting like go to meditation. I was burnt out. A lot of people… I can spot it everyday. That’s when I started to change, like I said, getting all of that stuff. Rethinking me.”

So you mentioned your wife, Jenn, a lot. What are a couple ways she’s influenced your life?

“Because she’s the polar opposite of who I was. I had a very hard time accepting that, but that’s what I loved about her. I never could correlate the two. I’m OCD and super neat. Jenn’s a free spirit, go with the flow. Super easy-going. And before I knew it, five years into the relationship, I realize it rubbed off on me a little bit, and I like myself a little bit more. The fact we’ve been through a lot of hard times, she’s probably seen me at my worst — really ugly. She still loves me unconditionally.”

“I’ve never felt that ever. From anyone. I’ve always had superficial relationships prior to that. AND my mom loves her. She brought some qualities in myself that I didn’t know were there, and I really, thoroughly enjoyed them.”

How have you influenced her?

“That’s a question for her.” I tell him it’s actually a question for him, too. How does he think he’s influenced her…

“I feel like she would say… like I said, we’re yin and yang. She’s very free-spirited, and I was very structured. I think, now, because of the influence I’ve had on her, she’s achieving some of her personal and professional goals. Personally, spiritually, I introduced her to the Catholic church. She Baptized and confirmed to get married which meant a lot to me and my mom. Spiritually, she’s become a different person since meeting me, and we’ve introduced her to God because that’s our family’s tradition.”

“I’m just such a neat-freak, organized, probably on her case. That’s one thing she’d say. She’s probably a lot more organized. No more collection notices are coming to the house, which I knew bothered her. And then, I hope I’m her first love because that’s how I feel about her. That’d be the most influence I’ve brought on her.”

What kind of person do you want to be tomorrow? (Thanks to Mark, Stranger 61)

“I’ve strive to be better than, or a little bit different than the person I was today. So, I try to learn something everyday.”

What’d you learn today?

“I learned…” He thinks about this for a while. “Hmm… what did I learn today?”

“I guess today’s not over yet!” He smiles.

“I met a new guy named Daryl. I might’ve made a new friend!” he laughed. “It’s not about myself but the day’s not over yet, I could say. Get out of jail-free card.” 🙂

What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“What would I like to ask…?” Kevin looks down then around thinking. He realizes I’m recording this and comments, “there’s going to be a bunch of blank space.”

“What are you doing this weekend?”

“…since tomorrow’s Friday. That’s usually the high point of people’s week.”

After the handshake.

I was a little hesitant at first about me asking Kevin to be today’s Stranger. I was wondering if I was bending the rules too much, but as I got to know Kevin more and more, it just highlighted how much I didn’t know him. He really was a Stranger on many, many levels.

I got a good sense of who he was throughout our talk as he always brought the conversation back to his home — his wife, his physical home he wants to have, his mother, his faith, etc.

After our meet, we got to talk even more about… everything. We spent time talking about social media being really a front… almost a mask of what’s really happening in people’s lives. We talked about the importance of being vulnerable, and to showing younger generations what life really is like — not in a bad way, but to ensure our future kids are raised authentically. We talked about our pasts including how many of the other Stranger stories (after he hopped on the site) were so interesting, and how he could relate to several of them.

It was good to get to know Kevin. In fact, I probably know him better than his wife now! Ha!

Meet Kevin. No longer a Stranger.

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