“Look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, what do I want to do everyday for the rest of my life…do that.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
How does a man who lives in a van, travels the country at will, has no bills, a steady income, and spends hours of his days reading and writing not already be free? People have even told me I’m free. “Yeah, but you have your freedom,” someone would say to me in response to how nice I thought their house, truck, or paycheck was. I have to admit; I knew I was gaining a lot of freedom. Retiring from the military, moving out of my apartment, and hitting the road — that’s got freedom written all over it, right?
Why then did I feel like the world was lifted off my shoulders not too long ago when I did the simplest of things. I felt so free. I went to bed with a smile, relieved that I no longer had the self-imposed pressure that I had put upon myself six years ago. I had no idea how much my life would change when I did this. What did I do? I killed @primitivedave!
I discovered the paleo diet in 2011. It made so much sense to me (it still does) that I immediately adopted it. Within weeks, I saw amazing results and knew I had found the missing link to the personal training business I gave up years prior. I created a website and started taking on clients again. For me, it was not just a diet it was a lifestyle, a philosophy. My entire life was what I called, PRIMITIVE.
Over the next few years, I tried to turn this new lifestyle of mine into a business. I listened to all the experts on how to make a million dollars with your company and followed their advice. I started a blog, started collecting emails, started posting content on as many social media outlets as possible — Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Facebook, periscope and whatever else has come and gone since. I even subscribed to the application that would help me post all this stuff, as well as bought whatever else bullshit the suggested I buy. The most expensive was a two-day workshop that guaranteed to 10X my return. I haven’t seen a fucking penny! Being an aspiring internet millionaire is costly and time-consuming.
Also during those years, I started to notice other Ancestral Health entrepreneurs dropping like flies. Some of them just gave up and started posting pictures of themselves eating cupcakes. Some moved on to other endeavors. And some just dropped off the face of the earth like they were ashamed of themselves. At the time I thought things like — too bad for them, more audience for me, or that they couldn’t hack being an entrepreneur. However, I almost experienced a similar fate. I gained all the weight I had lost in 2011 back again. I was so miserable and unhappy. The last thing I wanted to do was post a picture of me training or a recipe for “paleo” chocolate chip scones. I’d had it. I even took an entire box of “Go Paleo” t-shirts out curb on trash day and dumped the entire contents into the trash bin. I slammed the lid for good measure. I recovered, though, and lost the weight. And like a dummy, I thought that was it was a sign not to give up, so I persisted.
Just last year, I started writing fiction. I even created a new website to publish my chapters as I wrote them because they did fit on this website. This should have been a clue. Then one day, out of nowhere, I published a novella. Now, after six years of being the primitive guy, I decided to write a little romantic fantasy story about a woman who sells magic chocolates. Though I don’t have much of a following, what I do have wants nothing to do with a fantasy love story about chocolate. The thing is, I loved writing this book. Loved it! And it poured out of me in just 25 days. In six years, nothing like that ever happened to me as the primitive guy. To be honest, I don’t think anything like that had ever happened in my life.
I realized that what I had done was found what I loved to do. Great, right? (This is a lot bigger deal than I am making it out to be here.) The thing is, it didn’t fit with the internet personality I had cultivated over six years. I sent out an email out to my nine hundred subscribers telling them about my book. My discovery. My new passion. The response was quite underwhelming. About 12 percent opened that email, three of them clicked on the link to my book, and fifteen unsubscribed. When people started seeing screenshots of a couple of paragraphs I had written on Instagram instead of pictures of Primitive Meals or of me training barefoot outside, the response there was also lackluster. Don’t get me wrong. People who knew me and liked me showed their appreciation, but I felt like I was disappointing a lot of people by me sharing posts about what I loved to do. Something that took me forty-two years to discover.
Then one morning I wondered, just wondered, what would happen if I stopped being @primitivedave. What would happen to all that work I put in over all those years? I didn’t think about it very long. I started looking for a new handle, one that was available on both Instagram and Twitter. Within a few minutes, I found one, @davidesotojr. Like many of those former Ancestral Health entrepreneurs I mentioned earlier, I found a handle that best suited me, my name! I made the change immediately. That’s when it hit me. I had no idea the impact changing my internet handle would have on me. I was liberated.
I was free from having to do anything. With a handle like @davidesotojr, I could just be me, and it felt great. Since then, I continued to kill @primitivedave bit by bit. I started removing the monicker from everything I could. I deleted scheduled posts that told people to “get primitive.” I stopped trying to sell coaching and programs nobody was buying away. I changed my bio from some catchy phrase created to tell people what I do in one short sentence to what I actually am and want to be. (Author, Photographer, and Entrepreneur.) And though I didn’t give up my primitive lifestyle, I stopped pushing it on others. I still run in minimalist sandals. I still eat primitively. I still don’t use soap when I bathe. I just don’t feel obligated to. I’m free.