“To find yourself, you must first lose yourself.” - Unknown

Picture a place, a system, a kind of a training ground per se, that, according to the norms of society, both males and females should attend for the noble purpose of gaining knowledge, making long-lasting friendships, and developing a sense of worth that would contribute greatly to the formation of one’s identity, and therefore, help them survive out in the world.

Sounds like a pretty good deal, right?

Yeah, I thought so too. Until the wool over my eyes dissolved and I realized I was thrown into “the trenches” of disorder where everyone in my age group was running around scared trying to solve the question of, “who do you want to be when you grow up?” while adhering to the heartless and merciless Darwinian construct of “Survival of the Fittest.”

In other words, high school was a nightmare for me. I was regarded by many as the “poor loser” who was dealt an undesirable hand in life that consisted of having a big-nose, a skinny build, an acne-filled face, and a speech impediment. And if that wasn’t bad enough, I was also — against my will — made to serve as both the figurative and literal community punching bag (I still remember the nasty punch I took to the back of my kidneys from a guy who had 60 pounds on me), which was a rather low position in life that allowed me to rack up (or endure) many community shaming hours and experience plenty of disgrace.

Unfortunately, the shame and disgrace that I experienced eventually invaded my heart, warped my mind, and fractured my identity.

You see, going into high school, I had a reasonable, positive sense of who I was. I saw myself as intelligent, funny, and able to hold my own in most sports. All of that despite having mild-level social and speech anxiety disorders that aggravated a minor psychological stutter. Were they challenges? Yes, but challenges that were manageable.

Going through high school was a different story because how I perceived myself was far different than how others perceived me. Instead of noting my strengths, people tended to focus on and exploit my weaknesses. As the years went by and the flurry of insults and character-scathing attention intensified, my mental health issues became progressively worse. In my last year — the year my sad mortifying high school experience became, more or less, summed up by the event of being pelted with food and other various objects for a month straight in the cafeteria — things got so bad that my anxiety levels became moderate to extreme every day, which, in turn, made my psychological stutter much more prominent.

Deep down, I knew I was broken. I knew I was harmed. My confidence in who I was was fundamentally cracked, and my identity was a blur because of it.

Deep down, I knew I was broken. I knew I was harmed. My confidence in who I was was fundamentally cracked, and my identity was a blur because of it.

These fragile life circumstances made me realize it was in my best interest not to attend university right after high school since I feared that I would get destroyed by the heavy workload and the new and unfamiliar social environment. Essentially, I knew I was too weak to survive out in the world at that point in time.

Since I wasn’t ready to quit and live the rest of my life as a mere shell of who I actually was, I devised a plan that involved rebuilding my confidence and redefining who I was — a plan that was to be executed right after my high school graduation and included working full-time for a landscaping company.

Ha. Ha. Yeah... Let’s just say the outcome of my plan was much in line with the well-traveled, well-read narrative of my life. A running, repetitive story that, for the most part, always had me play the part of the sad, poor loser who continually got the bad end of the deal. There I was, 17 years old, very hopeful, thinking I was going to have a reinvigorating year during which I would make some money, build self-confidence, heal my speech impediment, and cement a crucial turning point in my life that would serve as a sturdy foundation for me to catapult myself into living a life full of honor, strength, and victory. Instead, I was poorly paid, my confidence became shattered, my speech impediment got worse, and I was then sent on a downward spiral for the next four years of my life.

The next four long years of my life saw me, a broken soul, trying to fight and wander the earth while being confused, scared, and angry, as I tried to adopt several different kinds of identities that were formed under the influence of my society’s culture — Identities that were never truly fulfilling and were perceived as harmful by others. Until finally, the grand total sum of all the pain, rejection, and loss that I’d experienced in life led to a breaking point where I had quit trying to fight and ended up in a dark, lonely pit with no hope in sight.

Defeated. Dishonored. Weak.

Yes, my story so far seems like one huge downward spiral that only got worse, and worse, and worse… but it eventually did get better, really better! For in a truly unexpected and upside-down kind of way, it was in the lowest point of my life, the point where I essentially lost everything, that I came the closest to finding out who I was always supposed to be.

Paradoxically, my upward spiral started when I finally admitted I was defeated and too weak — when I decided to quit fighting in life because I had lost hope in doing things my way. Doing things my way, which was short-sighted, selfish, and very much influenced by the imperfect people and world around me and was not the true way to find out who I was, nor was it the true way to find the victory, honor, and strength I had hoped and yearned for.

Instead, the true way to find out who I really was was through trusting in someone named Jesus. When I placed my hope in Jesus, he gave me a new identity, restored my worth, and granted me a sense of freedom and victory that I had never come close to achieving by myself.

If you would like to find out more about how Jesus can help you discover who you truly are in God's eyes, don't hesitate to reach out to one of our mentors by filling out the form below. It is free and confidential.

Continue reading my story: Life is Hard, but Jesus Redeems

This article was written by: Vincent

Photo Credit: Marc-Olivier Jodoin