Stephen Scoggins: What Do You See in the Mirror?


Stephen Scoggins

A mirror is not a subjective thing; it’s simply a surface that reflects an image. But perception can be a funny thing, and when I looked at myself, the image I saw was disfigured and blurry. Most often, it was like I was looking through dark lenses and couldn’t see my reflection clearly, even on a sunny day.

It was Christmas time in the late 90s. After a failed relationship, failed job and a rejection from the Navy, I found myself broke with little to no food, sleeping in my car or on friends’ couches.

 My world felt overcast and uncertain; each day I grew more anxious and depressed. All of my promise had drifted away, and there seemed to be no reason to move forward. It was this constant nagging in my mind, this endless critique of myself, which led me to a bridge overlooking Highway 440.

My life seemed so bleak and worthless; who would even miss me if I were gone? I felt the urge to call and say goodbye to a few people, but the first person I called didn’t pick up, nor the second, nor the third; I was drawing closer to my descent.

Just as I was ready to hang on up on my last attempt, the receiver clicked as my friend Susan picked up the phone. She saved my life that night as she comforted me, promising, “This too shall pass and what comes next will be greater.”

All I needed was one person to make me feel like my life mattered, like I could make it out of the fog. There are so many things that I would tell myself back then if I could, but the most important would be that my life has great value.

It has been more than 20 years since that night, and everything seems so much clearer now. Susan was right when she told me “this too shall pass and what comes next will be greater.”

In the last 20 years, I’ve been able to build a business from scratch, write books and impact people’s lives. But all of these accomplishments have their foundation in the experiences I considered failures. In retrospect, I realize I was just laying the groundwork for what was to come.

I know now that what I thought was hopeless became part of my prize: the pain I felt helped me empathize with others, the aimlessness I experienced helped me forge my path. Some of the most difficult parts of my life have become my greatest personal treasures.

For this reason, I dare you to fight, to dig deeper, to believe that this too shall pass and what comes next will be greater. When you look back, you just might find that you’ve built something greater than you ever thought possible.

Make the choice to see yourself in a different light, that the image in the mirror is not one of a failure, but of a promise of something greater to come.