Take Off The Mask | McKray Jones | Episode 39

Take Off The Mask | McKray Jones | Episode 39

Trigger Warning: There is some discussion about suicidal ideation in this episode from marker 26:07 to 32:38


Join Kimber as she talks  with McKray Jones, a robotics engineer and a friend from high school about:


  1. His chaotic upbringing and ow he learned to mask his authentic self in order to fit in.
  2. Times when masking is useful and when it is harmful
  3. How masking and code-switching blocks the path to true intimacy and growth
  4. How to teach our kids that growth comes with making mistakes and actually being our “bad self”
  5. Personal growth through divorce and dealing with suicidal ideation
  6. Teaching our kids to live their best lives through example


McKray's had an adventurous life so far and has had the benefit of experiencing a great deal of pain and adversity early in life. He endured a severely traumatic childhood and adolescent age before finding his first real community in performance art in high school. He excelled in trombone performance and used those skills to join the United States Marine Corps Band as a trombonist.


Following his four-year career in the Marines, McKray studied Aerospace Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with the intention  becoming a military test pilot. His first engineering job was with the US Navy as a Flight Test Engineer for F/A-18 aircraft and solid-fuel missile engines. From that position, he was selected for the US Navy pilot training program but turned down the dream-opportunity in favor of living a more family-friendly life as an engineer.


His next position took him to the Boston area where he has been since 2017. His sons, Sterling and Findlay, while both born in Mission Viejo, CA, identify Lowell, MA as their home. At his fourth job since moving, McKray found an organization with which he intends to stay for the foreseeable future. He helps develops robotic vehicles with Robotic Research, based in Clarksburg, MD.


McKray began his peace-finding journey in the summer of 2021 where he discovered that he had been living a decade of his life as a projection of himself, created by the expectations someone else. On a path guided mostly by meditations of Stoicism and with support from his family community and mental health professionals, McKray discovered he was ready to begin his new life and be his bad self.


Follow Kimber on instagram @justbeyourbadself  or join the JBYBS facebook community here for more interaction!


For guest bios, episode transcripts or to leave a review, please visit: www.justbeyourbadself.com

Transcript

Mckray

Kimber: Today I'll be talking with McKray Jones who is an engineer that helps develop Robotic vehicles For robotic research based in clarksburg maryland. What you may ask does robotic research have to do with authenticity and letting go of perfectionism? As far as I know nothing, But McKray I actually know him from high school and we connected Over my podcast and he's in my facebook group and I discovered that he has Adhd which is something that I have recently been diagnosed with and I wanted to go down the rabbit hole with him a little bit to talk about his life journey and the things he's been learning and That is what we're going to do today

Kray. Thanks so much for joining me on the podcast today. I'm really excited to have this chat with you.

McKray: I'm really happy to be here. This is once I learned about your podcast and I, I got exposed to a little bit of the earlier, you know, episodes and everything is, it's like, wow, this is really something more people should be hearing. And I, I get introduced to Justin's podcast. About men. I can't remember the title, but you guys are this, I feel like there's a lot of social movement right now on kind of accepting the human experience as reality.

And like, I'm, I'm stoked on it because I've had a lot of concern about being human my whole life and it kind of sucks most of the time. So I'm, I'm just glad that you're talking about this and I, I think it's great. So I'm, so I'm super happy to be here. So.

Kimber: you. That means a lot. Well, tell us who you are and kind of what you do. Just, just a, like a brief overview, and then we're gonna dive a little deeper into, into your story.

McKray: Sure. Yeah. So my name's McKray Jones. I, I actually went to school with you for a little while in hurricane. I grew up with a lot of let's see, who am I and what do I do? So right now I am. I'm an engineer. I'm a dad. I'm a mountain biker. I'm usually all three of those things at once. I got two great kids, Sterling and Finley.

They're five and six, well, six and five, but yeah, so that's who I am right now.

Kimber: Cool. Cool. So one of the reasons I brought you on is a while you're in like my little, just be your bad self Facebook community, and a little while ago I just posted in the group, like what's everybody learning right now. And I'm gonna read what you said cuz that's I was like, this would be fun.

Well, this would be good to talk about. You said I'm learning that I'm weird and I think differently than most people and that's fine. Carry shame and fear about ADHD and my mess up family for way too long. But I'm done now. I'm trying to teach my boys all about this idea that it's natural and right. To be bad at stuff before you're good at it.

And I really, really love the message of be your bad self. Is being amplified. And I thought, you know, so much of us spend our whole lives, carrying this fear and shame that you talk about. That, you know, someone's gonna find out that we're weird or that we come from a certain background or that we have some struggles that maybe other people don't deal with.

And so we mask it and we hide it and we try to pretend to be someone that we're not. And And, you know, this podcast is all about letting go of that mask and, and showing up in all our messy imperfection and, and finding that we're worthy of love anyways. So I, I would love to just dive a little bit deeper into your story, whatever you feel like is, is relevant to why maybe you've masked things.

And then wait, what's the catalyst that now you're like, you know what, I'm ready to let that go and, and talk about your journey there as.

McKray: Why have I masked things? Well, I. I guess my, my earlier story is kind of the fact, well, a lot, a lot of it's about how I, how I just couldn't mask things. And, and I ended up just being really ashamed and angry about that and about the fact that other people were masking. And I grew up in a very traumatic childhood and both of my parents are alcoholics.

There's like a lot of physical trauma and emotional trauma and just kind of, you know, I guess you could use your imagination and, and think of different things that bad parents do when they drink and use drugs and do things to their kids. Nothing sexual, but everything else is pretty much on the table.

And we grew up in a very small Mormon community. If your listeners are familiar with, you know, Cedar city in that area, they, they might know about fanatic and Nevada. And that's where I grew up. It's. It is so tiny. And before the internet, I mean, it might as well have been like a little cult town.

There was nobody there, but like farmers and, and Mormons and Living that kind of a life that kind of a crazy life in such a small close knit town. I couldn't mask anything, you know, everybody knew about all of our stuff and like I don't know if it was imagined or if, you know, my mom helped me superimpose these images onto my neighbors, but it seemed like everybody's just kind of staring all the time and wondering why, you know, our family wasn't Holding onto the iron rod.

Right. Staying on the path, you know? And I just, you know, I got taught by her a lot that, that not to, not to trust Mormons because they were masking and like everybody has problems. They're just not that bad. And I mean, there's a lot to unpack about all that. Like one, one of the things I'm learning now is that, that that's not exactly true.

A lot of people are living a good life and they just enjoy it. And it just so happens. I was taught not to believe that cuz mine was so bad, but that's, that's I think a different subject, but I've never been able to mask how crazy my life is and I've always felt really bad about it because nobody else around me seemed to have a crazy life.

And I, I had this experience this last summer where I realized that I. Had been just kind of that I, well, that I had learned how to mask really well, and that I had kind of lost a lot of who I was as a result. After I got a little older and a little, you know, a little out of my situation, you know, got in, got out of that and my mom remarried and that was great.

And then went to the Marines. I, I learned how to the mask and to, to fit in and I learned how to ignore my own needs. Ignore myself and I, that put me in a, in, in the situation that I'm in now, which is I'm gonna be getting divorced soon. Life is gonna be really hard for a few more years. You know, we kinda got away from the question there.

Kimber: You know what, it's all, it's all fair game. It's all fair game. As you were talking, I was thinking about, you know, this idea of a mask and the very first retreat I did this year, one of the exercises that the drama therapist, Anna Beck walked us through was she had a couple of people. Choose someone to represent their mask and, and they would pose this person as what, who it is that they show to the world.

And then they would choose someone else to represent the person behind the mask. And, and it was a super powerful exercise. And we, we, we talked about this idea of a mask and there was someone there who said, I, she said I'm a little bit jealous because I don't feel like. I have a mask. And you kind of said the same thing about when you were a kid.

You're like, I, I didn't feel like I could mask all the the crazy. So I, I'm curious of your thoughts being on both sides of this. Like, are there times when, when masking is a good thing and a useful thing, and when is it a harmful thing in, in your experience?

McKray: Oh man. There's a lot of places we could go with this question. I, I mean, professionally, there's absolutely a time to mask, right. Especially if you're in, you know, customer facing jobs, like, and I think you just, you studied business and so you spend a lot of time facing the customer. And so code switching and masking is absolutely a thing.

Like you have to do it if you wanna be successful in some of those places. But. When you, when you bring that home to a spouse or to your kids, then you, you're kind of depriving the whole family system of the real experience, right? The, the tools that depriving yourself and your children and, and your spouse of.

Of opportunities to deal with it, to deal with being disappointed and frustrated and sad and ashamed and, and, and all these feelings that we have to learn, how to deal with, like when you mask and when you code switch for them you're taken away all that growth opportunity. And like, I mean, I've been a dad for six years now, almost seven.

And being just aware of, of all of that opportunity, all that learning opportunity, all that growth opportunities. It's been huge for me. I'm just so mindful of like now is the time to, to teach and to, to grow and like, let them get as close as they can to dying and then bring them back right before it happens, you know, just rapid growth.

Right. And. And that's, I mean, that's, that's who I wanna be and that's who I want them to be. And, and, and when I just hide all of my problems, when I hide feeling bad that I'm not doing well at my job when I hide you know, being frustrated with, with anything, with the schedule, with not getting out the door on time or with my inability to handle my own anger.

Right. Like if I, if I fly off the handle, whatever. I gotta be honest about that because they are struggling with the exact same thing. And if, if I, if I act like that's the wrong thing to do, like it's just wrong to, to get mad, you know, like anger is a very valid emotion and, and you gotta feel it.

Sometimes you can't handle it in a way that's hurtful to other people or, or to stuff, but like you have to handle it. And if I pretend that I'm not angry or that I shouldn't be then I'm just, I'm really depriving them of, of the opportunity to learn how to handle.

Kimber: So, what I'm hearing you saying is that masking or, or code switching is, is a block to true intimacy and growth. Is that accurate?

McKray: yeah, absolutely. No, I, I think, I think if you are looking for intimacy and if you're looking for growth and you cannot mask, you have to be present in your own mind and in your own body and you have to be just, you have to be there.

Kimber: And I've, I've gotten myself. not exactly in trouble, but especially toward the beginning of this podcast, I was all like rah authenticity all the time, you know, just be your bad self, but, but the truth is it, it also, isn't always. It isn't always safe to go there. So, so masking is a good skill, like you said, when you're at work and you don't need to be, to have that level of intimacy with the people you're working with.

And you don't know how safe you are being who you are. It is awesome. And good to be able to have that, you know, to code switch, to be, to, to fulfill that role. Right. But like you said, when you're in a, when you're in a family or a community that you want. Intimacy from the only way you can really feel that love is by showing up as who you actually are.

Otherwise they're just loving the mask and it never, it, it doesn't penetrate through to who you are.

McKray: that's true. I mean, and, and you're, you're not gonna benefit, you know, the person masking is not gonna benefit from that intimacy either. Like I was just thinking like about learning more generally, and if you are like, so I'm mountain bike, right. And if I'm out there in the trails, like, and I suck at something, which is pretty natural, because mountain biking's kind of hard.

Sometimes. And I'm just like hiding it from my, you know, my partners, whatever my, my, my trail buddies, like they're, they're never even gonna know that I'm, that I'm struggling, that I have a hard time. Like, but if I, if I just suck in front of them, like I should be doing, then they're gonna be right there with some solution that they already solved.

And so, you know, you, you benefit a lot from that intimacy too, you know, it's not.

Kimber: Yes, I love, I love, I don't think I've really thought about this idea. I mean, at least not in these, this much clarity, this idea that being authentic, even authentic in. In your shadow side or the things that you're struggling with actually being your bad self and letting that be seen, it's a growth tool, like

McKray: Oh, it totally is. I use it all the time professionally. Like , especially in engineering, you cannot be a good engineer. If you think you're better at everything than, than your peers, like, it's so critical to have like productive discourse and to have people challenge your ideas and everything. Like you'll make a bad product.

You might kill somebody depending on, depending on what you're building, but it's so critical to suck at your job as an engineer. Like you have.

Kimber: yeah, I, so I know you had mentioned in your comment that you have ADHD. I actually just got diagnosed with ADHD last week.

McKray: Oh,

Kimber: And, and my, I posted about it in my like Instagram stories and my husband found it out. I posted about it and he was like, horrified. He's like, why? Like, why do you share everything on social media?

Why like, aren't there some things that you can keep to yourself or whatever. And I said, I said, first of all, I don't, I have a little community that I've built that I do feel safe with the people that follow me that are here to listen to my podcast. They're the people like me who like intimacy and imperfection and all that.

So I said, second of all, if I wouldn't have posted about that, I wouldn't have had like five people reach out to me and say, Hey, I have ADHD too. Here are some resources that you might find interesting and helpful. I'm like, I would've just kept that to myself and. got that information and that support and that extra boost of community who understands me.

McKray: I'm so glad that happened to you.

Kimber: yeah.

McKray: great.

Kimber: Yeah. I I would love if you wanted to go down like a little ADHD rabbit hole, cuz that's where I'm at right now. I'm like, oh my whole life makes sense now. So.

McKray: That something similar kind of happened to me. Like I, so I, I, I was diagnosed when I was a child. But I didn't wanna take drugs because I, like, I grew up going to AA meetings and stuff, and you meet all these people that spent their whole life doing drugs and drinking, and you're like, oh, I definitely don't wanna do that.

So I'm not gonna take any drugs. Right. That was me at seven years old. And So I, I kind of repressed that diagnosis kind of just pretended it never happened. And then I had career aspirations that are pretty adverse to ADHD, like military intelligence. Like I, I got offered a job to be a, a pilot in the Navy and never mentioned ADHD at all.

I'm sure that if I would, I, I, I, well, I'm not sure. Right. But I, I think if I would, I wouldn't have, wouldn't have gotten the offer. And. Now that, and, and I, I really hate that by the way. Well number one, because probably ADHD people make the best pilots, right. Because there's a lot to listen to, but I just, I hope somebody listening right now doesn't feel discouraged by the bad decision that I made to do that, to, to withhold that information because it, it really kinda, I, I think that it kind of damaged my whole life or not damaged it, but maybe attenuated to my tra my trajectory a little.

Kimber: Hmm.

McKray: What happened was, I was just really just kind of tired of. Having this question in the back of my head, like what what's going on. Like, I think that I think differently than other people, I think I process differently and is kind of irritating because, you know, the, the, you know, the typical, the popular tools and the popular methods, don't, you know, like sit and watch a professional development training for six hours, like, and, and remember what's on it and I'm like, I don't know how other people do this, but I can't, you know I, I race through it and I take the test at the end and if I pass great, if I don't well fine.

But you know, a lot of those things that are kind of built for the neurotypical world, just they, they weren't working and My job wasn't working. Like I just, and I just felt bad about it, man. I suck at everything. Why am I not getting better? Why am I not, you know, progressing as far in my career as my peers, why am I doing this and that?

And, and Number one it's it's. Okay. All of those things are fine. You know, I realize that now after doing all this learning, but number two, like having that answer, having that, you know, I went through this exhaustive test and yes, you have ADHD. Congratulations. Right. I did the same thing. I, I looked back at my life and I thought, oh, okay.

So. That makes sense. And that makes sense. And those decisions make sense and, and all of these weird, strange things you did that other people said they would never do. They make sense now and, you know, have permission to, you know, have permission to feel okay about those decisions, you know?

Kimber: Yeah

McKray: it was like, I was like, wow I don't suck.

I'm just a little different, you know, I dunno. It was, it was very. And then once you realize, right, once you realize that accepting yourself and loving yourself, like I've been, people have been telling this, my close people in my life, all you have to do is love yourself and things have fall into place.

It's like, what, what do you, what do you mean by that? And then, and then I realize like, all you have to do is just do it right. Just accept it. Just say, okay, well that's, that's who I am and that's fine. It's, it's such an easy thing. It's very, very uncomfortable to do, right. A.

Kimber: Yeah. Yeah. I, I was listening to a, like a, I'm trying to remember what it's called, like hacking your ADHD or something, a podcast. And they were talking about how, and I think this, this applies to everyone, right? not just, not just neuro divergent people, but everyone that sometimes when we struggle with something, we make it into a moral failing.

I suck. I'm lazy. Why can't I just do this? This should be easy. And we, we turn it to something where we're beating ourselves up. And in this podcast they said, that's not, that's not helpful. That's not helping you because all you can do is, is just buckle down and try harder doing the same thing you're already doing.

And, and it, it doesn't really help you at all to turn everything into a moral judgment about yourself. And they said, if you can, instead. And like you said, this permission of being like, okay, this is, this is how I am and pinpoint the things that are making a specific task, difficult, like, okay. Maybe I'm having a hard time paying attention because I didn't get enough sleep last night or haven't eaten lunch or had any water today.

Or, you know, some, some other thing that might be getting in the way of you doing that. And then just like you were talking about being authentic as a growth tool, same thing here, instead of turning everything into a moral issue, try and pinpoint. Okay. But what are the actual reasons that I'm struggling right now?

And then that gives you tools to figure it out and, and help yourself and support yourself, maybe doing better on this thing that matters to you.

McKray: That's. Yeah, absolutely. Like removing that moral judgment, that value judgment away from like you and, and separating it out into actions and consequences is, is so valuable. Cuz you just, you have so much more like cognitive bandwidth and emotional bandwidth to handle like what's actually happening rather than just feeling so bad all the time.

Kimber: Yeah. So the other thing, one of the big things you talked about that Facebook comment was this idea of teaching your kids. That it's okay.

McKray: Yeah.

Kimber: to, to, you know, to not always be perfect. I feel like that's a hard thing to do because sometimes, and I know this was my experience. Sometimes it's like, well, my parents figured it out.

Therefore, I should just do exactly what they tell me. And as parents, we think this, I already know how to do this. So if I'll just help my kids avoid making any mistakes ever. How are you going about this with your kids?

McKray: Just like every other parent I'm doing it the wrong. You know, like , it's so hard. Parenting is so hard. My boy, the older one, man, he's just like me. Like, everything has gotta be perfect the first time you gotta do it. And if, if you don't, I'm a bad kid. I'm stupid. I feel. And he says these things and it just breaks my heart, man.

Kimber: Mm-hmm

McKray: I hate it when he says that. Cuz I feel it I'm like, no don't please don't feel the way I felt. It's terrible. It hurts and it's wrong. One of the really valuable tactics I have been trying to do. And I only remember to do it sometimes is I have, especially the older one, especially Sterling, I, I have him practice doing something wrong a number of times before he ever even tries to do it. Right.

Kimber: Wow. I love that. love that.

McKray: he. Oh like it, it, you know, it is different, different tactics for different exercise, like actions, obviously, but like, throwing a baseball, right? I'll I'll have him throw the baseball like over here or over here or just crazy or whatever. I'll Hey man, throw it 20 times wrong. Throw it as bad as you can throw it 20 times.

And don't even think about throwing it the right way. The craziest thing happens is he, he starts having fun. He starts laughing, starts giggling, and on the 21st throw, it's like, perfect, because he's so relaxed and he is not worried about like, is this gonna be right? Or is it gonna be wrong? You know, of course by the 22nd or 20, 23rd throw, he he's, you know, his tension's back up and he's worried about doing it.

Right. But it's all practice. It's all practice. Just so I, I, I try to get him to do it wrong as many times as he can stand. Before he ever tries to do it right. Just to relax and just to feel okay about doing it the wrong way, just to like, because whether you like it or not, like your brain learns stuff, and if you feel relaxed and if your eyeballs see you doing the wrong thing, and if your ears here, you're doing the wrong thing.

And if you, you know, you, you do all that while you're feeling happy. Like you're gonna be more comfortable doing it the wrong way. That's, that's how, like, that's how your brain learns whether you want it to or not. And so that's, that's what I'm trying. That's what I'm trying to teach in. Just trying to get him to, to practice, to, to be more comfortable and being bad at stuff.

Kimber: My mind's blown right now. Like that's such a brilliant thing to do. That's such a brilliant thing because we usually do the opposite. Right. We, we try and get them to do it. Right. And then it feels like the best we can do is be like, oh, it's okay. You didn't get it right this time. We can try again. Which isn't the worst.

Way to go about things, but to actually have them practice doing it wrong and get comfortable with not being perfect and doing things the wrong way is a hundred times more useful than the way we normally go about it. In fact, I, as I'm talking, I'm remembering a Ted talk that I watched not too long ago.

About someone. I can't remember why they decided to do this, but it was along the lines of what you're saying. Like, you've gotta get comfortable with doing things wrong and with rejection. And so they went out and their goal was every day to go get rejected go do something they were scared of and get rejected.

So they would do things like. Ask for a hamburger refill at McDonald's, like, they'd go do things that they would know they would get rejected for so that they would get comfortable with rejection. And then when it came to stuff that they actually wanted to do, they didn't have this fear anymore. Cuz they conquered the fear of rejection and you're doing the same thing with your kids, helping them conquer this fear of, of getting it wrong, which we all have.

I think.

McKray: I think that's true. That's absolutely true. Like worried about, you know, stage fright, whatever, just messing up and, or making a huge mistake and getting embarrassed. Like he, he's got all of that and I'm just trying my hardest to let him to help him feel okay. You know, doing it wrong, cuz like seriously, once you get that down, like there's nothing you can't.

Kimber: Yeah, I you've mentioned this briefly. Earlier that you're going through a, a divorce. And I know before we started recording that, you said like, you don't have it figured out you're right in the middle of navigating it, but I've, I've talked to a lot of people on this podcast who've gone through you know, a relationship change like that, of some kind and.

I feel like every single one of them has said, like, this is a crazy personal growth journey. going through this experience of, of divorce and, and really figuring out like how to navigate family dynamics. Making the decision in the first place, like takes a lot of courage and, and bravery. And I'm, I'm, I'm just curious if you have anything to say to.

You know what you're learning, how you're navigating this with your kids. And, and yeah, just any thoughts you have as you're going through this, any lessons you're learning.

McKray: I don't know it, the, the beginning of the end, so to speak was when I realized that I was. You know, so, you know, in psychology, you, you kind kind of recognize mental health issues by thought patterns, cognitive thought patterns, like, what are you thinking? And how are you thinking it? Right. And so my, my therapist, you know, very luckily caught me in a big panic attack one day.

And Caught me talking about suicidal ideation and all this. And so I, I went through that whole process and re I, I got to experience all those cognitive patterns which was pretty uncomfortable. Right. But turned out to be useful later on. Because one day I was. Talking, you know, with my, with my, my, my wife and I was like, Hey, these are the same thought patterns I was having when I was suicidal a few months ago.

You know, there's no way out of this. This is an unsolvable problem. I'm never gonna be able to do this. And so I might as well just kill myself and That was, that was the moment for me that I decided, well, I can't, I can't work on this anymore. I can't allow myself to be emotionally vulnerable with this person.

I can't, you know, I wanna be very clear, right. That this is I, I, I don't ever. Want it to be said that I'm, that I'm blaming anybody right. For the, for the end of my marriage. It's, it's very much a decision between between both of us and just it's a, it's a, it's a point in my life and something that just had to happen because I was just unable to continue on the same path emotionally and mentally.

It just it was, it was a very destructive self destructive meta destructive path for, for me. Handling with my kids. They've been experiencing a relationship between, between my wife and I that's very unhealthy. Right. We spend a lot more time fighting than we do talking and like regular voices. And we don't have any warmness anymore. And they're learning. That's how moms and dads talk to each other.

Kimber: Hmm.

McKray: We're, we're trying our damnest to like, be cool with one another.

Right. But it doesn't always work out that way. And even if it did, like, they're, they're still not seeing, you know, kind of the warmth and kind of the, the emotional intimacy that, that I think kids should be experiencing when they're around their parents. So I think. You know, putting it into that is gonna be really valuable for, for, for their growth, for their experience of the world. The, the big risk, right, is that hopefully we'll be able to find this with other people and then walking them through what's happening. I wish I had a better answer, but all we're, you know, the message right now is that it's just We work better apart than we do together. You know, I, I don't know. They're, they're five and six, right. Having a coherent conversation about complex relationships is kind of beyond what we can, where we can go with them. But, you know, we we're working better apart than we are together. And, you know, I, I think that that's. I think that's leaving it open, leaving it open for a, you know, a more granular conversation later in life.

And just kind of staying in the right direction. You know, there's no, there's no deception. There's no, you know, kind of whitewashing or anything, but definitely trying to do some age appropriate detail. You.

Kimber: Yeah. Yeah. I, I love, I love that you have the self-awareness. That like this isn't the relationship that I want to model for my kids, because I, I think so many of us were raised in a culture where it's like, Divorce equals failure. Right? Stay together for the kids, stay together at all costs unless there's like major abuse or infidelity going on, you can work it out, right.

You can make it work. And, and I'm really grateful that you were vulnerable enough to share that you've, you've had these feelings of like suicidal ideation because I. For a lot of us and I've experienced that too. And it usually comes from a situation that we get ourselves into that we feel like there there's no way out, right.

McKray: Right.

Kimber: I would, I would be failing to like, decide I can do something different than this. And so I just don't. And if this is the only life path, then I don't wanna live it out. I just don't wanna be alive anymore. And, and it's so awesome that you, you got the support you needed. And you had the self-awareness to realize like, wait, just cuz I wasn't really modeled that there are other good options there still are.

And I think that is so awesome that your kids get to have that modeled for them.

I think also it's good to remember. Like I've told other people in my life that have struggled with suicidal ideation, like, look, I would rather, you never talk to me again and move to Australia than choose to end your life.

Right? Like there are so many options than that. There are people that love you. And sometimes we think like, oh, if I, you know, if I make this choice, I have all this love that I'll be losing. But to remember that, like, People would rather have you alive living the life that makes you happy, even if, even if that's not the life you think will make them happy, they would rather that for you than for you to end your life.

And I think that sometimes really hard to remember that, that we feel like, yeah, there's only one way to do it. Right. Or else we, we failed.

McKray: Yeah. I mean, that's that's right. Like it's, I don't know. It's a bit of a misnomer, right? People say it's the selfish thing, but I mean, those thought patterns are usually not something. Someone has a lot of control over, right? The like when you're having those feelings and you're thinking those thoughts, it's like, well, here I am.

And unless you have experience with it, unless you like know how to process that know how to handle it. There's. There's not a lot you can do at, in, in the moment. And it's, it's terrible. It's a terrible place to be. But remembering that, you know, Man. I hope I hope you have a great mom. I have a great mom and all the love I get from her really helps me come out of this, these, these kinds of things in a lot of ways. And I, I hope that you have someone like that.

Kimber: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. The other thing that I was thinking both when you're talking about your divorce and just, I, I don't know if you've had this experience, but I feel like my kids. Have really helped me start this path of like, what actually makes me happy because there's sometimes where I have a choice to make

And my one half of my brain is like, okay, well, this is, this is like the socially approved choice. Right? So an example, like to stay married is kind of the socially approved choice. But then I think like, is that the example I wanna set. For my daughters, like, is this, is this the marriage I want them in? Is this the situation I would want them in?

And it's really helped me having kids has been a great self-awareness tool for me of like, instead of, oh, I'm gonna save this, I'm gonna do this for my kids. Cuz this is the childhood I had. It's like, no, no. I, I don't wanna sacrifice who I am for my kids, because that's doing them a disservice. I wanna become as much me as I can to show them that, that they can do that too.

McKray: I think that's amazing. And I think that tracks, I, I don't know. I like, I, I will say that, like for me losing a part of what made me happy and losing, losing track of that losing track of, you know, just. What is it that I like about life was a big part of why I'm getting divorced. But I, I do wanna comment on how awesome I think it is that you specifically, you being in, you know, in, in, in the co in growing up in the culture that you grew up in and, and modeling for your daughters and all these other women that are listening to you, I, I really think more women specifically need to be aware that.

It's totally cool to have desires and dreams and, and take care of them and, and not sacrifice that for

02-mckray-jones_recording-1_2022-06-02--t04-20-30pm--guest923042--mckray: children.

Kimber: Yeah, not easy. It's not easy to do but I think it's, I think it's so important,

McKray: of course it's not easy. And I'm not, I'm not saying it's easy for dads. It's not easy for dads. It's not easy for me. But just. I want my boys to go out into the world. I want them to, to learn how to be kind and loving and respectful, and then go out and impose their will up on the world and just do whatever it is they're gonna do.

And I don't want them to ever wonder if that's the right thing. You know, I want them to, to follow their hearts and everything, and, and it's gonna be hard for them to learn how to do that unless they have some parents to do it.

Kimber: Yeah. And I think, I think it's also awesome that we're seeing this cultural shift that like it's okay to follow your heart and find what makes you happy because I, I think. This, this term's selfish, right? We're so afraid of this term. I don't wanna be selfish. And we think of being selfish and following what you want as like bad.

Right? Well, if you want it, then it it's selfish and, and it's bad. Like who's gonna stop you from becoming a mass murderer or, you know, whatever, like , and, and I think, I think a lot of us starting to realize like, no, most of us have good hearts and what we want. We want good things. We want good things for the world.

And so if we can learn to follow our happiness, we're gonna be making the world a better place. Not, not a worse place. Would you agree?

McKray: Absolutely. I, I really agree with that. And I, I mean the classic counter argument that, you know, what's guiding you to not be a mass murder. It's like, dude, if you, if you need, you know, some external guidance to not go out and start killing people, you have different problems. Right. But Yeah, I think that, I mean, man, you just see it in kids.

Right. I see it to my boys following your heart means playing and being creative and, and making something out of nothing and, and turning a bucket full of rocks into, you know, a symphony concert with an audience and a goofy audience member that runs around screaming and like these. The, the things that come out of these kids' minds.

And I, I talk about kids because they're kind of free of this, this internal monologue that whatever they're doing is wrong. Right. Whatever they're thinking or playing around or, and being embarrassed or whatever, you know, and, and when you are just emotionally free of being tethered like that, like good things come out of you, they just do.

And yeah, so I, I think. I think everybody should endeavor to like, find that freedom to find that willingness and that, that, that safety, I guess, to follow their dreams. And it's hard, man. It's, it's sometimes it's financially hard sometimes it's like just not possible, but I, I hope that everybody can do that.

Kimber: Yeah. Yeah, same here. If you have like one big picture takeaway that you wanna leave with the listeners today, what would that be from you?

McKray: Don't wait, don't wait to hit some life benchmark to graduate college, or to get your dream job or to get selected for the military or some scholarship. Don't just stop masking right now. St. I guarantee that whatever it is that you are good at, and you are passionate about. Will, it will turn out so much better if you just go for it.

If you put away that filter, put away that mask that, that you think people wanna hear and you think people wanna say, just get rid of it because it's really, it's really slowing you down. It's hampering your growth and it's like, it's really, it's attenuating your trajectory. And, and this is kind of an engineering thing, right.

But. Attenuation is a lot more effective at, at lower levels, right? Once, once you get kind of set in your set in your trajectory in life, that attenuation isn't gonna matter so much, but right now, man, right now, before you get to where you're going, just let go of that mask. Just go for it. Just, yeah, just, just do you, yes.

I hate to say that. Just be yourself. How cliche is that? What does that even mean? But right now don't wait, let go of the mask. Just, just go for it, man.

Kimber: Yeah. Be your bad self. Right? Do it wrong. Do it messy. Let go. The mask.

McKray: bad self.

Kimber: Yeah. Awesome. Wait,

McKray: You are waiting for me to say

Kimber: I was, I was like, put the bat in there. It makes it cooler.

McKray: I actually love the, I love your, your title. Just be your bed. Self it's. It's great.

Kimber: awesome.

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McKray Jones

Dad / Robot Engineer / Mountain Biker

McKray's had an adventurous life so far and has had the benefit of experiencing a great deal of pain and adversity early in life. He endured a severely traumatic childhood and adolescent age before finding his first real community in performance art in high school. He excelled in trombone performance and used those skills to join the United States Marine Corps Band as a trombonist.

Following his four-year career in the Marines, McKray studied Aerospace Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with the intention becoming a military test pilot. His first engineering job was with the US Navy as a Flight Test Engineer for F/A-18 aircraft and solid-fuel missile engines. From that position, he was selected for the US Navy pilot training program but turned down the dream-opportunity in favor of living a more family-friendly life as an engineer.

His next position took him to the Boston area where he has been since 2017. His sons, Sterling and Findlay, while both born in Mission Viejo, CA, identify Lowell, MA as their home. At his fourth job since moving, McKray found an organization with which he intends to stay for the foreseeable future. He helps develops robotic vehicles with Robotic Research, based in Clarksburg, MD.

McKray began his peace-finding journey in the summer of 2021 where he discovered that he had been living a decade of his life as a projection of himself, created by the expectations someone else. On a path guided mostly by meditations of Stoicism and with support from his family community and mental health professionals, McKray discovered he was ready to begin his new life and be his bad self.