Growing up, I was never one of the popular kids. On the rare occasion a football was thrown my way I would drop it without fail, if by some miracle I managed to get near the soccer ball, I would land on my butt every time I went to shoot. Talking to girls I was interested in was about as easy for me as trying to part the Red Sea and on the one instance I actually summoned the courage to ask a girl out, I was yelled at and called a “desperate freak.” I frequently spent my bathroom breaks getting my teeth kicked in by the school jocks and used my recess as a time to hide behind a tree reading or talking to one of my three friends.
As I grew older, I became more and more insecure, and began using video games and porn as an escape from my crappy existence. I found solitude and comfort in the immense expanse of games like Skyrim and Fable, building another life in a world free of pain and rejection, building a life that wasn’t so damn hard. When puberty finally hit, I didn’t think I was good enough to attract girls, and resorted to porn as the drug to help me cope with my loneliness. When I eventually started to catch the eyes of a few young maidens, I didn’t have the confidence to escalate things and became increasingly comfortable in the friend zone.
These habits continued on through the first several semesters of high school resulting in a zombie-like existence of going to school, going home, and plugging into a dopamine-filled night of Xbox and porn; that was my life. A blur of virtual reality and virtual sex with very few healthy outlets or relationships. The worst part? I didn’t see a problem with it. I was content being the skinny kid with braces, acne, and zero self-confidence. As soon as I picked up my controller, I was unstoppable.
I remember very distinctly the day things changed. My best friend (someone at a similar place in life) let me borrow his book American Sniper by Chris Kyle. I had expressed interest in a military career (mainly fueled by Call of Duty and Battlefield and he figured it would be a good read for, but it wasn’t; it was life-changing. I remember putting that book down, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt what my purpose was; I wanted to be a Navy SEAL. However, now it wasn’t because of any adrenaline-fueled fantasy about kicking down doors and blowing up bad guys. I wanted to be a SEAL because I wanted a challenge. I wanted to be a man of indomitable will and mental fortitude. I wanted to be a SEAL because I wanted to serve and have brothers in arms that I was willing to die for. I wanted to be a SEAL because I wanted to make sure that my life actually meant something when I died.
I decided to make a change. I began training every day and putting in the work. At first, it was brutal. My first mile run was 13 minutes and 27 seconds, my push-up max was less than 20, and pull-ups were a feat I only dreamed of. But I ground it out training hard, eating right, and staying focused. In a year I went from being 125 to 155 lbs running a sub 6 minute mile, and maxing out around 55 push ups (the minimum to pass the SEAL PST).
But the physical transformation was only the first piece of the puzzle and the first major turning point in my life. The second came almost a year later when I stumbled across Goals!: How to Get Everything You Want by Brian Tracy. It opened my eyes to a whole new way of thinking. I realized I had potential beyond what I had imagined, and anything I wanted to achieve in my life was mine for the taking if I would simply put in the work. This was the beginning of another huge transformation in my life.
At this point, I was spending copious amounts of time in front of the television, still watching porn 5-6 times a week and still had very little luck socially despite my physical change. I decided enough was enough and decided to make another change. I began delving deeply into personal growth podcasts and books, continued training, and started getting out of my comfort zone socially.
Fast forward to today, I am in the best shape of my life at 6′ 170lbs with 8% body fat. I can outrun, swim, and fight just about anyone I come across. Video games and porn have been almost completely eradicated, replaced by my guitar, personal growth and entrepreneurial endeavors. I was able to quit one of my jobs that I hated and replaced the income by freelancing. Flirting and connecting with women has become second nature, and all traces of social anxiety have vanished. In short, life is good.
However, with this transformation has come an uglier, less desirable side as well. My previous insecurities and shortcomings are not gone, they have simply changed with the circumstances. My previous social anxiety and low self esteem have been replaced by cockiness, turning me into the very kind of guy I used to despise. Instead of using my successes as a springboard to help others improve their lives and realizing how much I have left to learn and accomplish, I have allowed my success to go to my head. The calm, quiet confidence I have always admired and desired still remains to be seen, and is instead overshadowed by a feeling of superiority and a need to prove myself rather than improve myself. Whereas once, every change I made was to become a better man and improve my life so I could contribute to others, now the goals I pursue are selfish, focused on increasing my status and desirability. I allowed myself to slip and become the arrogant, conceited jerk I have always hated.
So many of you may be asking why I am writing an article here on a site for good guys if I am so clearly the farthest thing from one. The answer is simple; I know my weaknesses. As a man, it is never easy to admit your shortcomings, and it’s even harder to try and fix them, but this is the necessary first step. By accepting my arrogance and ego and understanding where they come from, I am able to better position myself to conquer them and become the man that God created me to be. While I know that change won’t happen overnight, it will happen. It will be painful, embarrassing and confusing at times the same way that changing physically and mentally were. But at the end of the day, by facing the man in the mirror and accepting our state as fallen humans with pride and iniquities much greater than we could ever hope to overcome on our own, we are able to make the necessary change that will lead to us becoming the men we long to be, the men we were created to be.