When Kevin Palmieri graduated high school and while his friends went off to college, he stayed behind because he had no idea what he wanted to do. He job hopped instead. His first job was pumping gas at the town gas station.
“I didn’t meet my dad until I was 27,” reflects Kevin. Raised by his mother and grandmother, “We were definitely lower middle class, not a lot of money. We never owned a home. We rented my entire life. I think that stuck with me, especially growing up without a father. That led to a lot of self-worth issues for me.”
Many people have suicidal thoughts. However, some have internal demons that cause them to consider it a little more seriously.
For Kevin, it happened more than once. He seriously thought about it and focused on what it would be like if he was no longer there.
He and his girlfriend rented a three-story apartment in Boston with another couple, where their bedroom was on the top floor.
Kevin reflects, “I remember I sat in bed one day. I was home alone. The best way to explain it is I just felt gray. Everything felt gray and dull and hopeless and stuck. I remember thinking that if this is what life is, I don’t know if I want to do it. That’s the best way to explain it. I just kind of lost my will to continue.”
When his girlfriend came home, he expressed his vulnerable thoughts and she convinced him to go to therapy. That was the first time he admitted he had depression and anxiety.
His therapist was in downtown Boston, which is anxiety-inducing on its own when one tries to parallel park. Once inside the building and after the walk up a spiral, creaky staircase, he reached the therapist’s office and sat in the waiting room.
“I remember thinking, I don’t want to do this. I’m gonna cry. This person is going to judge me. I have to like talk about myself. I don’t wanna do that.”
He cried. He did talk about himself and his therapist did not judge him. Afterwards, he felt grateful that he went. day. He began to look forward to going forward.
Therapy continued for a while and there was a shift in Kevin’s psyche. He went through a tough breakup. He was convinced if he made more money he would feel better about himself. As he went through a tough breakup, he thought to himself, ‘How is anybody going to love me?’
“I’m broken. I’m depressed. I’m anxious. All these things. I’m going to make a bunch of money — the next year I made a hundred thousand dollars and I was 26. I had no college degree. So it seemed like a miracle. I opened my final pay stub of the year. I saw the six figures on there and nothing changed inside of me. I still felt unreasonably unsuccessful internally. This is after therapy.”
Because things looked to be working out, he stopped going to therapy. Therapy worked so well he didn’t have to do it anymore. However, reality soon set in.
When he opened that final pay stub after a year of working himself to the extreme, nothing changed. Something inside him again shifted. He realized that for most of his life he was living unconsciously.
The opposite of unconscious is hyperconscious. So what did Kevin do at age 26? He started the Hyperconscious Podcast. He began having deep conversations with people about fears and the things they were excited about. He stopped caring about his job. He finally felt like he had a purpose.
He continued to attend and travel for work and felt like he was about to burn out. He had to pick between his job and the podcast.
Alan had been Kevin’s mentor since the beginning of his self-improvement journey. During his darker days, he was always there at the end of the telephone line for support or guidance. Still, the suicidal thoughts raged on.
“I remember I messaged Alan on Snapchat and said, Hey man. I’m going through like a really dark period at some dark moments. I’m having some dark thoughts. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know what to do. And Alan, a modern-day philosophizer, said Kev, so much has changed over the last couple years. I mean, you have a podcast, you’re focusing on self-awareness, but your environment hasn’t changed.”
That gave Kevin the permission to actually see a brighter future. He now had hope. So he left his job three or four months later. Having somebody in his corner made all the difference.
Kevin trusted Alan to tell the truth.
“I think there’s a fine line where a lot of us have people in our corners, but we’re afraid of their judgment. Maybe they judged us in the past or we’re afraid they’ll worry about us, look at us differently. Sometimes you just need to have that conversation with somebody because they might say something that makes you rethink it.”
The Other Side
Feeling like you’re alone also makes you feel trapped in life. You don’t know how to get out of it. For Kevin, changing his environment helped him change his perspective. He could see his unique circumstance where he could take the risk. However, not everybody can, so the path might look different for others.
Today, Kevin Palmieri is the CFO, founder, and co-host of Next Level University, a global top 100 self-improvement podcast. He has used his experience to help others with a no-BS approach to holistic self-improvement.
Telling his story over and over allows the wound of his pain to have scarred over. There is no fear to talk about his suicidal thoughts. He is not ashamed. He is not afraid. It doesn’t trigger him. However, back when the wounds were fresh, he would not have been able to share without it causing him to backslide.
His purpose in life is to help people from getting to the point I he had to through.
“Your future can look drastically different in a year. If you start something today, 12 months from now, your life can look and feel different. You can think and believe different. A year is a long time. A lot can change for you.”