[ Ryan Romano ]:
Man oh man, do I love me some me.
I'm confident, I'm fit, I'm ambitious, I'm valuable, and most of all, boy, am I worthy.
Now, I know what most of you guys are thinking.
"Sheesh. What arrogance."
But, not that long ago, I didn't know any of these things about myself.
Not that long ago I was lost, depressed, insecure, self-conscious.
And worst of all, I had no identity about who I was as a person.
I can vividly remember laying in my college dorm room bed, confused as to why everybody seemed to have it all figured out, yet I was still so lost.
My constant comparison, trying to keep up with everyone else's lives and their timelines, put me in a downward spiral — a spiral that had me questioning, was life even worth living for?
I can still remember that night, to this day, of laying in my bed, motionless, hopeless, looking at that bottle of sleeping pills as it sat there next to my bed, and thinking, "Maybe, if I take enough of these, hopefully, I won't wake up in the morning."
You see, unfortunately, here in the state of Texas, on average, a person commits suicide every two hours.
And even worse, it's the second leading cause of death between the ages of 15 and 34.
Clearly, so much of our nation is struggling to answer some of life's most simple, yet difficult questions.
Questions like, "Who am I?" and, "Is that really who you want to be?"
You see, it's so easy to put these questions off, because of fear — fear of living up to everyone else's standards.
Because we live in such a loud and noisy world, filled with technology and social media.
Most people would rather fit in, rather than stand out.
Because as research shows, five to eight times as many high school and college students meet the major criteria for depression or anxiety than 50 years ago.
Heck, I was one of those statistics.
So take a second: I'll ask you, who are you?
What do your answers look like?
Are they surface-level and generic, things like your name?
Maybe a career or profession, a sport or an activity that you're involved in, husband, wife, son, daughter.
And then I ask, is that really who you want to be?
Does that list enable you to live the highest expression of yourself?
A list that would empower the world, and anybody that came in contact with you would benefit?
See, for most of you, there's probably more you'd like to add to your story.
Yet we're not challenged about the real essence of our lives — the essence that would allow us to live the most abundant and joyful life.
And when we struggle to find these answers, we mask them with our insecurities.
Because when we don't know who we are as people, it's impossible to create those meaningful relationships.
Because we're so focused and distracted on everything that's wrong within our lives.
And these lack of meaningful relationships are having devastating effects.
In part, because of these trends, and the rise of depression and anxiety, teens today are more likely to consider suicide as a solution to their problems than years ago.
So what can we do?
How do we solve these problems and slow down so many of these trends?
The answer lies in coming face to face with those questions — those questions of, who are you, and who do you want to become?
Not who your family or friends want.
Not who your teachers or coaches want.
Not even who society wants.
But what would allow you to live the most abundant and joyful life?
Who could you create, to go to bed every single night, and wake up every single morning, and look yourself in the mirror and say, "Man, I love me some me."
Because there is no greater relationship than the one between you and you.
You see, we're meant to live this magical and exhilarating life.
It took me over two decades to understand that I had the power to create whoever I wanted to become.
That it was not dependent upon anyone nor anything.
So, relax. Ease up on yourself a little bit.
Enjoy the unfolding of your life.
Because perfectionism is the number one confidence killer.
And so I leave you with this.
Tonight, before you go to bed, write down 10 things you love about yourself — 10 things that genuinely make you smile, 10 things that completely fill your heart, and 10 things that reaffirm just how valuable and worthy you are.
Because you are valuable, and you are worthy.
So align yourself tonight with who you want to become, and enjoy the most confident and exhilarating life.
[ Music ]