I have this philosophy: that it’s good to be shallow. Sometimes.
I went through a phase in my life where I didn’t like myself. My girlfriend had dumped me. My philosophy was changing. I no longer fit in with the people I thought were my friends. I hated my job. I had a side-business that was eating up all my time and money that wasn’t turning a profit after more than three years of continuous investment. I didn’t know if I trusted in God or not.
In generations past, people experienced an identity crisis mid-life. My generation? We experience it in our 20s.
My life spiraled out of control (the full details of which will have to be reserved for another post). I eventually found myself jobless, friendless (minus the drinking buddies that allowed me to pretend), depressed, and physically out of shape. I came to one conclusion that changed my life: If I was going to be unhappy, poor, and alone for the remainder of my life, I wasn’t going to be ugly.
Well.. okay, not a very sustainable philosophy, but it was the best I came up with at the time.
Like Forrest Gump, I just got up one morning and started running. I started running every day. It was my gimmick to channel my emotional pain into physical productivity. Instead of thinking so much about these many unresolved issues, I started killing workouts – outdoors, at the gym – almost obsessively.
As I started to feel physically better, and as I started to look visibly better in the mirror, I started to get my confidence back. I found work. I made new friends. I started dating. My life started to take shape again. But it all came at a price:
I lost my humility.
You know that part in the beginning where I used that word “sometimes?” Well, sometimes is right.
After experiencing success for a few years, I found myself in the same dire situation I was in before – only worse (again the details will have to wait for a different post).
The biggest benefit to losing your identity is that you are forced to form a new one – usually after getting kicked in the face by life. You lose the things you idolize. You become wiser. You become humble. Not by choice or inspiration or revelation – but through adversity. Most of the time, it’s called reaping what you sow.
If you take that adversity and dig deep, you can come to some valuable conclusions about yourself. They differ from person to person based on various situations, but in my case, and in every case, there is one common conclusion: that you must change.
I thought I was changing my physical appearance. It turns out I was changing my destiny. But not without a trial. Never without a trial.
My methods were rough around the edges, and they led me down some dark paths that I do not regret going down, but will probably never go down again. The number one reason for this is that I valued pride over humility.
I see people fall into this trap all the time. For whatever reason, God seems to place people in my life just as they are undergoing their strongest adversity.
And they all go through the same sequence: first life kicks them in the teeth, then they gradually take personal responsibility and decide to change, then they change and see some success, then their success takes them too far and life kicks them in the teeth some more.
I went down this road too. Many times.
It stopped being about feeling better about myself and it started being about how hot I looked in the mirror, and how fat other people looked. Instead of celebrating change, I celebrated with a vengeance: and went down a path of never-ending debauchery and living for the moment.
Change is a good thing, provided that it is in line with integrity and humility. I would argue that most of our crises in life come primarily from losing our identity as a result of being prideful and forgetting to be humble.
The bigger the pride, the harder the fall.
As you face a crisis and accept responsibility and decide to change, remember what got you into the crisis to begin with. Remember that in your broken state you humbly decided to start over.
If you prayed to God for deliverance and got what you requested, don’t spit in his face by going back to your old ways.
Remember who you are, and maybe you won’t get lost so much.