“But I am just a nobody…”
How many times have you had those thoughts?
The thoughts that come in right after you have had an audacious goal, an incredible dream, or a world-changing idea that sounds almost too crazy and insane when uttered out loud…
How many times have you stopped yourself from going after what you want, because your fear and doubt tells you that you don’t stand a chance?
As an extremely private person by nature, I never had much of an urge to share my stories or experiences.
And until very recently, I didn’t think I was ever going to share this story publicly.
But in a world where people are becoming increasingly apathetic to suffering, I feel compelled to share my story, in the hopes that it will inspire you to find the hero within yourself.
I believe that every single one of us, should we choose to, can invoke a powerful spirit within us to transform our lives and help make the world a better place.
So here we go…
Over 4 years ago, while I was traveling in the Netherlands, I met a girl. She was 22 and I was 25.
She was unlike anyone else I had ever met. She had strange, peculiar interests in seemingly-polarizing things.
On one hand, she was deeply fascinated with the occult, she possessed objects like the skulls of animals, a model replica of a human skull, and many other odd symbols of darkness.
On the other hand, she had a strong love for symbols of innocence, such as collecting stuffed toys (rather seriously) and wearing onesies. The many books that she had indicated she loved art, and that she had a very acute visual sense.
She was very gentle and often displayed deep compassion for those who had been marginalized by society.
It soon became clear to me that despite being 3 years younger than me, this girl possessed a deep wisdom about life that I could not yet understand.
Even though she was quiet, reserved, and extremely guarded with her feelings, I was immediately captivated by her mysterious sense of self-expression…
She bluntly rejected me multiple times after I told her I was interested in her romantically.
She listed out all the practical reasons why she wouldn’t date me. I was a foreigner (she didn’t want any long-distance relationships), I was a regular pot smoker, and I was too much of a “cool guy” (as I would later find out, what she really meant was that I acted too much like a stereotypical douchebag).
It was quite painful the way she rejected me, but still, I wanted to continue seeing her.
So a platonic friendship ensued.
It wasn’t long before I noticed the self-inflicted scars on the inside of her arms.
When I did, I held her arm out, ran my fingers over her scars and simply asked, “Why?”
She yanked her arm away and looked away quickly, sharply stating, “I was diagnosed with PTSD.“
Sensing her reluctance to reveal anymore, I didn’t probe any further.
We continued to meet. Our relationship progressed… We got closer.
One evening, after hours of talking, we slept together.
She continued noting her reluctance to be with me… But she never stopped meeting me.
Pretty soon, I was spending every single day with her in her tiny one bedroom apartment. I extended my stay in the Netherlands to 3 months and for the last 2 months, I stayed at her place.
One day, during a seemingly innocuous conversation, we started talking about the future…
As she started talking about her future, I noticed a deep anxiety setting in…
She started talking about the obstacles in her way and her anxiety started to get even worse. Tears started to form in her eyes as she curled into a ball and hugged herself.
Not knowing what to do, I tried to convince her that her fears were unfounded, but that did nothing.
The expression on her face started to turn into a look of sheer despair. Her eyes gazed past me into the distance as she started crying, her nails digging deep into the side of her arms. She had become so entrenched in a state of absolute fear that nothing I said or did would even get acknowledged.
Desperate to ease her pain but clueless on what to do, I hugged her close and held her tight, repeatedly whispering to her, “It’s going to be okay…“
Never had I felt so utterly helpless in my life.
In what felt like years, minutes passed…
She starts getting calmer, and she eventually apologized for “freaking out”.
I would later discover pieces of her dark history.
She was originally born in Poland. When she was 3, she was left under the care of her grandfather.
Instead of caring for her and protecting her like he had promised, he sexually abused her for months in secret. He told her that if she told anyone, they would think that it was her fault and hate her for it. Ashamed and afraid, her 3-year-old mind suppressed the memory… Her once bright and exciting world turned dark and frightening.
Her parents divorced several years later, and she was left to live with her father and her sister in Poland.
As her father struggles to cope with the stress of the divorce, he started losing control over himself in fits of rage and would viciously beat her sister. She recounted an incident where she became so afraid he was going to kill her sister that she stepped in to defend her sister during a beating. Fortunately, that act of courage snapped him out of his rage and made him stop. She was 10 at the time.
She eventually leaves with her sister to go live with her mother in the Netherlands.
As the small, strange, foreign and quiet girl who barely speaks the local language, she quickly became an easy target for bullying. School was a nightmare. They threw food at her, called her names, and played pranks on her on a daily basis.
One day, as she was walking home from school, two girls whom she never met pushed her down an escalator and started beating her up. When they eventually left, she picked herself up and went home.
But that incident had made her terrified of going out, and she fell into a state of deep depression. Eventually, she decided that she finally had enough… and attempted to kill herself by slitting her own wrist.
Her attempt failed and her mother admitted her into a mental hospital for rehabilitation.
She was 16. It was during this time in the mental ward where she finally experienced some reprieve. With the help of a psychologist, now 13 years later, memories of her childhood abuse resurfaced and she was finally able to start healing from that wound.
She was also diagnosed as a high-functioning autistic, which helped her understand why she behaved so differently from others. A year later, the mental hospital was forced to release her due to financial constraints.
Not wanting to return home, she got a small job in conjunction with a student loan and rented a tiny room in a shared apartment.
Shortly after, she befriended a man. He was sweet to her at first and they eventually started dating. He took advantage of her vulnerability and gained her trust. But slowly, as their relationship progressed, he became more and more abusive. What started off as emotional manipulation became full-on beatings. He put out cigarettes on her, violated her, and even threatened to stab her while holding a knife.
She would eventually break free from his manipulative grip, but not after suffering emotional and physical scars.
Upon learning of her difficult past, I experienced a powerful mix of grief, anger, and admiration…
As our relationship deepened, I wanted nothing more than to help her see a brighter future. If I could give her hope, that would mean more to me than anything else I had ever done in my life.
The first thing I did was move to the Netherlands to be with her. The process wasn’t easy, but I managed to do it in 3 months. We have lived together ever since.
She had always wanted to visit Japan, Disneyland, and a whole bunch of other places, but never had the chance due to her financial circumstances.
At the time when I met her, I was a struggling digital marketer who had just dropped out of college in pursuit of the “internet lifestyle”. My income fluctuated tremendously, some months I made a few thousand, some months I made nothing. It was nothing to brag about and definitely not enough to travel and live indiscriminately. So if you have ever been led to believe that particular endeavor is easy… Trust me, it’s not.
But, the one thing that it does give you is the freedom and ability to decide just how far you want to take things.
And now I had a powerful reason beyond myself to do whatever is necessary to create a thriving business.
It took a little over a year before things started to take off…
We moved out of our crappy apartment, went to Disneyland in Paris, stayed in Japan for 1 month, and went out on many other adventures.
She had always been fascinated with Chow Chows (a rare dog breed) but she was afraid of dogs because of a biting incident when she was a child.
So together, we tracked the breed down… It took about 18 months and living in Poland for 1 month before we were finally able to get the puppy… But we eventually did and he’s part of our little family now.
Slowly but surely, I witnessed how the powerful light of hope transformed her outlook on life… The bouts of despair occurred significantly less frequently… She had less anxiety and she started engaging her interests more actively…
Now, I definitely do not dare claim responsibility for any of that. She was the one who had to go through the fight. And I have not always been supportive… I have made many horrible mistakes, hurt her both intentionally and unintentionally… But having been able to take part in her healing process has meant more to me than anything else.
There’s a lot more that I wanted to share, such as how my rage almost destroyed everything and how I met a true warrior who transformed my perspective, but I think this story has gone on for too long…
My point is this…
In a world of ever-increasing apathy, there has never been a time more critical than now that we look inwards upon ourselves to find powerful reasons to do what is right in this world… For there are far too many monsters out there who are looking to exploit the vulnerable.
One of my favorite quotes is from a man named Edmund Burke, who once famously stated, “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.“
You may not be able to think of yourself as a hero in the grand sense.
But everyone has the capacity to be the hero in their own story…
[Tweet “Everyone has the capacity to be the hero in their own story…”]
For it is not only through a journey of service that we will create a better world, but its also where we will find meaning and transform ourselves into happier, stronger, and more fulfilled individuals.
Shift your focus to those who need you. Be willing to bear the burden of their suffering, so that you may look past your own insecurities in service of a greater good.
When I say the world needs you, I am being sincere and truthful. The world truly does need you.