How One of the Toughest Years of My Life Led to a Monumental Shift in Worldview (for those who want to identify a similar shift)

Keith Hayden
3 min readSep 5, 2022


July 2008 — “I sat in Vegas for a week and a half contemplating fate.”

Wow. I had forgotten about this line.

At the close of every year, I used to write entries in my journal called “Afterthoughts”. These were reflections of the year’s biggest events and lessons.

From my perspective now, they are revealing glimpses into my previous state of mind at the time when I wrote them.

After reading the first line and flipping through a few old entries it was clear that 2008 was a rough year for me.

Troublesome Transition Year

It was the year I graduated from college. I had busted my ass at the Air Force Academy. I also had high expectations for what post college life would look like. Expectations that were way too high.

It was the year I moved to live on my own for the first time. I’m an extrovert who prefers having easy access to social interaction with others. I didn’t realize how not being around others would negatively affect my state of mind.

It was the year I realized how lonely I was. I can recall badly wanting to find a good relationship at the time, but they always seemed to be slightly out of reach.

Looking back, I had an odd way of viewing the world. If the pieces of life didn’t fit the way I wanted them to, I threw them away. Not a great way to find a good relationship or make friends.

It was the year I was disappointed by family and friends. This pairs well with my overly high expectations. I wasn’t wise enough to see they were all going through their own transitions.

I only saw they didn’t show up the way I felt they should at the time.

There were more difficult things about that year in the desert, but these are the standout insights. Reliving these memories doesn’t cause as much pain as I thought they might back then.

It’s because my view of the world and myself in it has shifted dramatically since then.

A big shift in worldview

I used to see myself as the ‘protagonist’ or ‘hero’ of my life. As the ‘hero’ I felt entitled to having other ‘characters’ (see friends and family) join my party and follow me through life.

Lol now I laugh at this myopic view of life.

I’m no hero — and I write that with the utmost admiration and appreciation for myself, not with self-loathing as I would have back in 2008-.

I also recognize I’m not an NPC (non-player character) in other people’s lives either.

I’m a semi-conscious being existing for…reasons I can’t be sure of at times.

We’re all that way.

Our divine purpose is made for us through our circumstances (no control) and what we choose to do with them (some control).

It’s easy for me to write this now, but there’s no way the man I was back then could have seen it.

This change in perspective is one of the single largest mental adjustments I’ve made in my entire life.

Questions for readers:

Was there a year in my life that laid the foundation for a big shift in perspective later on?

What events prompted the change?

How did my worldview change as a result?