Victim or Victor

Updated: May 26, 2019


By Josh Gagnier

We are not special and we are not owed anything. You are the only one responsible for your situation.
“I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.” -Martin Scorcese
I’m writing this because the “give me” and “I am owed” mentalities have gotten out of hand. We all have obstacles in our lives. Even the toughest of us are mere glass; breakable. It is how we break that counts. Will you be shards in the street, flattening others’ motivation? Or become an improvised weapon cutting through the bullshit?
Now, the part where I over-share my baggage. I was taken from my mother and placed in the Las Vegas foster care system when I was about three years old. I was in 7 or 8 foster homes (my social worker isn’t sure the exact number and placements became a blur of repetition) and an orphanage. At around age 8 I was adopted by a family for which my social worker apologized when we reconnected 20 years later. I have seen counselors for abandonment, sexual, physical, and emotional abuse.
shutterstock_144129190There are three types of nights: those I have nightmares, those I can’t sleep, and those I stay up until the point of utter exhaustion because it makes for a dreamless sleep. I was 10 when a shrink first brought up the possibility of me having PTSD. I was 13 the first time I contemplated suicide and about 14 or 15 when a shrink said something to the effect of “you’re serial killer who hasn’t met his first victim.” Yay team!
I was 17 when I joined the US Army. I began my conversation with recruiters in December of 2000, shipped off January 23, 2001. I had talked to them about being an Army Ranger but they said I was too small and it would probably cause excessive injury and it was not the best path to take; I was 5’ 6” and 98lbs. I grew to 5’ 11” and 160 lbs. after AIT (13F). I deployed to Kosovo in Oct 2001 and OIF in January 2003.
I found my biological mother when I was 21. My memory is such that I described a woman who bathed me in a sink as a child and she knew to whom I was referring. This means I remember a lot of the shit that could break me; being a victim is a choice. Period.
Fast-forward to now. I am 32, have a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, several certifications, and 10 years of experience. I’ve worked with Microsoft, eBay, and Intuit in the IT realm. I’ve published two books of poetry and am in the process of publishing a novel.
People who squander every opportunity for success piss me the fuck off.
You don’t need a safe place – you cannot expect others to “you-proof” themselves like new parents baby-proof their home. Instead, “world-proof” yourself. Every successful person has their version of Rocky’s “the world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows” speech. Why is that? Because it is literally…
“not how hard you hit, but how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward? That’s how winning is done. Not pointing fingers saying you’re not where you want to be because of him or her; cowards do that” -Sylvester Stallone
You are a force to be reckoned with. Follow in the footsteps of the likes of Ranger Up and Article 15. Use your scars to help those around you.
Simply leading by example can help others pull themselves out of the shit-storm they live in.
Victim or Victor, the choice is yours. Choose wisely.



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