Strength isn’t always headstrong, do it, and prove it. Strength is recognizing that there’s something wrong, strength is accepting, breaking down, and rebuilding, so that you can be a better, stronger you tomorrow. Now, Without further a-do, Dillon Sinclair.
Dillon, lets real briefly talk about the songs I asked you to pick out, some songs that helped you in some hard times.
Yes, these were crucial for me, still are one of the album’s is called ‘God and the Devil are raging inside of me’ I mean even just the name of the album I thought ‘Wow that is so true’ the whole premise of the album is to fight off your demons. Another one, Breathing blood from the album ‘Son of the Morning’ by Oh Sleeper. Really brought about thoughts of ‘am I worthy of being saved’, me becoming depressed. Just very honest, and raw lyrics.
Let’s start with a little about you, where you came from and why these songs were significant to you.
Well, I grew up in the church, I was raised in a strong Christian household, and with that came strong performance-based expectations, and I found myself wanting to rebel against organized religion. Because I saw hypocrisy in it, within my own parents, my own family, and the people of the church. Of course, I love music and I had a lot of worship songs that were very crucial for me but many times listening to those very happy surface level songs didn’t feel like I was being honest with myself. It felt nice to have an album that was more like Oh, Sleepers album or Brand News’s album where it felt more honest like they knew exactly who I was, and they were throwing up these feelings for everyone to hear and it made me feel less alone.
“It made me feel like I’m not the only one who feels this way.”
When did you begin to feel this way? When did these thoughts begin?
I believe the seeds were planted around grade school about 5th grade when I was 10 or 11 years old. Like I said I lived in a very performance based household, and when I wasn’t exceeding expectations I was not good enough but I don’t want to blame my parents. My father was very old still having kids when most people his age were retiring. He grew up in a different world where, it was a lot colder, I was afraid to make mistakes, he instilled a fear of being wrong or not performing well. Not only all of that but I was very bullied at school, to the point where if you even hung out with me you were also bullied. I had to hide who I was, I didn’t feel safe.
”I created these walls to protect my heart from being exposed, and hurt. However, it got to a point where it began to do the opposite, they were preventing me from growing as a person.”
In high school, I was finally able to get out of the public-school system, however the co-op I was in was hyper religious focused and the denomination was different than my family was. So, all that just made me rebel, and I had so many questions, I didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone about.
“So I repressed it all, I am a master repressor”
I felt like I had no one, That was the worst possible mistake. Of course I had people I could go to that would understand. The older I got I slowly began to let more and more people in, I was so sick of repressing and feeling this way, I felt more comfortable. Although, things were looking up a little I was still frustrated by the vicious cycle of ‘oh ill pray for you’ like yea, I’m praying too thanks, its hard sometimes hearing God like sometimes it be too loud for me to hear or listen. Sometimes its nice just to have an actual person to hug you, hold your hand and be there.
I remember having this thought when I was 19, ‘how awful is it to put expectations on God, and have him do certain things’ my pastor asked us ‘when was the last time in prayer time that you didn’t ask for something’ The act of prayer itself is an act of worship, I needed to stop being so selfish, I realized while I was special, I wasn’t. There were millions before me, and millions will come after. It was exhausting, asking and asking and being upset at God, like I was digging my own grave.
So, you’re at 19, and you’re having all these deep conflicting thoughts. Was there like a defining point in your life where you moved past all of this?
There wasn’t really a defining moment, perhaps a compilation of realizations is what got me to change. Like I remember having anxiety while hearing powerful, and raw testimony’s, my thoughts were right away ‘wow my testimony isn’t strong enough, so why share it’?. Being 19 this was a huge thing for me. Around the same time, I had signed up to go on a Missions trip to Africa.
“One of the first nights that I was there one of the translators had asked me to speak in front of the whole village and to share my testimony”
He goes, ‘you have something, everybody has something. Even if just one person hears something, and it helps them even in the smallest way, then you’ve done good. You can rest easy in that.’ So, I get up there read some verses, spoke about my family and that was that. Several people came up to me afterwards and told me how moving that what I said was, for them. I honestly couldn’t even tell you completely what I spoke about because I was so nervous. I remember coming to the beautiful thought, ‘ok maybe my testimony does have value, it does have weight, and maybe can be worth telling
“that was one of the first steps, maybe its been dangerous for me to repress so much. Maybe its dangerous wearing this mask, and hiding who I truly am.”
The people I met there, didn’t have half the stuff we had. Yet the happiest I have ever encountered. They were so giving, and loving. Then there’s me living paycheck, to paycheck, thinking I was a poor little barista, but still the top 10% wealthiest in the world. I realized, the world is much bigger than my problems, and if what I can share through my testimony can help just one person, then I’ve done good
One other key story to my growth is when I met up with a good friend and mentor. He asked me how the trip was and how life was going. He told me how he was meeting with a certain therapist, the therapist had him draw a picture of how he’s been feeling. So he drew a little bird, in a beautiful birdcage, with the door closed. The therapist connected it right away with his marriage and other things going on in his life. Aspects of his life preventing him from feeling free. He reimagined the cage door being open, but for me, for me to leave whenever I please. That I don’t need to be shackled by my thoughts or by others.
“ Every time that I suppressed who I am, I thought ‘here I am, sitting in the birdcage, with the door that I closed’ Why don’t I just get it out?”
We’ve gone through a few stages of your life now, 12-17 where you began to have these thoughts of loneliness, inferiority, and questioning your upbringing. 18-20 you became more aware of what you were doing to yourself, began to let down your walls, and found worth in your testimony.
My final question to you is; what is the one thing you would like to tell others who are going through similar situations like the ones you did.
Well, its going to sound so cliché, so simple, and sung about a lot, but. You seriously are not alone. The world is so much bigger than yourself, there are so many people out there going through the same exact thing you are. There is so much truth in this. I remember my favorite Calvin and Hob’s comic panel Calvin says ‘ If everyone in the world would just stop and look up at the stars, I bet they’d live a lot differently.’ If only we know how small, and temporary our problems are. What an incredibly profound thought stated by the 6 year old in the comic.
We get so caught up with what is right smack-dab in front of us that we forget what’s important.
Speaking to a slightly older generation (young professionals) All of this criticism you receive, you can take it as condemnation or you can take it has conviction. Choose to lash out, not get better, or throw your tantrum cuz you’re not where you should be and stay in place. Or, you can choose to grow, and look positively. You are taking those first steps into adulthood, so have grace with yourself.