Defining a Person

defining a person

How are we defining a person? Does the past define a person? Does the present?

I like to tell stories, and the story I’m going to tell you is about my different lives. A lot of stories begin at the very start, and mine does too.

Map of Yugoslavia

Early Childhood

I was born in the early eighties, in the city of Novi Sad, former Republic of Yugoslavia, second child in the family, son to a father who was head of security in a hotel and a mother who worked as a travel agent. I started going to nursery at 11 months old, where I’ve spent time learning to socialize with other kids and play throughout the day. My learning continued and accelerated early. I was enrolled into a kindergarten at the age of 3, where I picked up the very basics of counting and writing.

Panorama of Novi Sad

Growing up in country torn by civil war and even though times were difficult, my parents enabled me to attend elementary school and get basic education. I was a quick learner and I showed interest in math as early as 8 years old. It was not long until my teachers encouraged me to use these skills in math to participate in local competitions. The influence of my father was significant in the early teens. I quickly followed his footsteps by improving the skills in technical drawing and solving logical tasks, as my father was good in engineering.

Teenage Years

Being a teenager was quite fun for me. I started playing volleyball at the age of 12 and basketball at the age of 14. My father was first personal coach I had and he helped me join the school of basketball where I learned all the basic skills. I attended it at the same time as I attended high school for mechanical and technical studies. It was not long before I realized that not everything goes according to plan. I started to rebel against my dad at the age of 16. This is where I showed the key family trait, being stubborn. Even though late teenage years proved to be difficult, I still managed to graduate high school at the top of the class and pursue my dream in mechanical engineering at the local university.

Serbian Military Honorary Platoon

Early Adulthood

Unhappy with my life and studies, I decided to quit college at the age of 20 and join the military. I thought that it will help me find the answers. Military service was obligatory for all young adults that didn’t attend college anyway. I thought it will be like hitting two birds with one stone.

Unfortunately, as I finished the service after a year, going back home with positive expectations was quickly diminished by realization that running away was NOT the solution. Nonetheless, I decided to leave home AGAIN and look for a better life elsewhere. After a few years working various jobs abroad, from farm caretaker, to construction site supervisor, life quickly turned sideways as my boss got into financial crisis and declared bankruptcy. This event left me with no money, no friends and nowhere to go. The only thing I had left was my ego and determination. I had no choice, but to either go down in despair or jump back up and do something.

Defining a Person

Early 2011 was a turning point in my life. As I was nearing my thirties, I found myself working in hospitality industry, as a facilities manager of a small hotel. It was like love at first sight, with constant changes that the industry was going through. Having to keep learning day in and day out, I realized that this might be it. In little over a year, I became the general manager of the company and joined the local Rotary Club, since I always wanted to help the community. It opened up the doors for me and showed me the way. I started improving my lifestyle and learning more about leadership. I wanted to inspire others to do more in their life.

As I kept on searching for inspiration and motivation to keep moving forward, I discovered an organization that helped me work on skills that I love, communication and leadership. I’m talking about Toastmasters, non-profit organization who supports individuals hone their skills in public speaking and leadership.


Inspiration and Meaning

I encountered another turning point in my life between the search for inspiration and meaning. That was when I met my un-married wife. She helped me realize that I could achieve much more without having to think about pleasing others. We started growing together as a couple and as a family. That growth was abruptly stopped by the loss of our first child. Even though that event was something that you don’t want anyone to go through, we did and we are still recovering from it. These stories may represent many different lives, yet all of those lives represent one person. I wasn’t defined by the past, instead, it shaped me into a person that I am right now.

Did you like this story? If you did, hit the like button and leave a comment below. If you have your own story to share, get in touch with us. We can help you bring your story to life through our community.

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John Todorovic

John Todorovic

Charismatic and persuasive professional speaker, communication and leadership coach and an aspiring writer and author. He enjoys mentoring, coaching and developing teams and individuals who are seeking to improve their communication and leadership skills. As a restless knowledge seeker, he loves acquiring new knowledge on daily basis through various types of research techniques.

This Post Has 57 Comments

    1. I appreciate your kind words. Means a lot to me!

    1. Thank you for taking time to read and understand it.

  1. Wow, your story is quite inspiring! I’m happy to see someone that has gone through so much still be able to stand strong and take on the day!

    1. It gives me more courage and strength to keep going seeing your supportive words. Thank you.

  2. Thanks for sharing your story. Kindergarten at 3! Wow.
    You are indeed an overcomer!

    1. It was a challenging yet rewarding childhood. I’m proud to have shared the story and that it helped me pave the way towards where I am right now.

  3. Yes, as long as we breathe, we are ever-evolving in this life.

    Reading about the teens years and rebellion, pointed to my own dealing with my 18 year old young person pushing to find his way. These years are trying.

    I don’t know the loss of a child. But going through these last year with him feels like a loss in ways. They both twist and gut in very different ways. And in some ways I lost me as well.

    So, yes, I can beyond empathize reading through your phases, and only with you and your partner the absolute best going forward.

    Be very well.

    1. Your words are very encouraging and give me more hope in moving onward. Thank you!

  4. You’ve definitely had an eventful life and I’m very sorry for a loss. I pray that your wife and yourself can stay strong and have fantastic lives.

    1. I am thankful for your supportive and kind words. It gives me more courage to keep moving.

  5. It takes lot of courage to pen down ones own story. Thank you for sharing

    1. Indeed it does. It feels slightly relieving now that I’ve done.

  6. A very touching and insperational story you don’t know what life have to offers until you meet it my condolences for your lost

    1. Thank you for taking time to read my story.

  7. This story really got to me, very inspiring and i must say that i am really sorry for your loss. You are definitely a very strong person and i must say there are not many like you out there.

    1. Your words of encouragement mean a lot. Thank you for sharing them.

  8. Nice to read your story and get to know you better! So does being born in Yugoslavia make you middle-eastern or European?

    1. The area that former Yugoslavia and current Serbia is located at is called the Balkans, South East part of Europe. Thank you for asking.

  9. Thanks for sharing your story! I love reading about other people’s lives and experiences,..everyone is so unique!

  10. I enjoyed reading your story. My dad participated in Toastmasters. He really seemed to enjoy it. Your story is really an inspiration. Thanks again for sharing.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed reading it. Thank you very much.

  11. Such a lovely story! In Finnish we say someone has the “sisu”, which you have shown. “Sisu” can be roughly into English as the strength of will or determination during tough times.

    1. Appreciate the encouraging words. They give me more strength to keep pushing forward.

  12. Thanks for sharing your story. It’s always great to hear how someone becomes an overcomer.

  13. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your child ???? Your story is inspirational in that life is always changing and we have to change right along with it, learning to persevere ????

    1. It does change continuously and we need adapt. Thank you for your supportive words.

  14. Thanks for sharing a little about yourself. Very inspiring. I hear a lot about Toastmasters but haven’t been able to pull the trigger and attend any meetings. Also, I honestly believe that every nation should have mandatory ROTC attendance. It builds so much discipline and character, and it gives you a way into the military if you choose. I’m not sure why here in the states if you enter ROTC, you need to commit to a military career… Not everyone wishes to join the military, but everyone can benefit from its strict training regimen.

    1. Discipline I obtained through the service has helped me throughout my early adulthood. Having discipline in life is crucial for success on any basis. Thank you sharing your thoughts on this.

  15. Empowering, inspirational story. Thank you so much for sharing a piece of your life.
    Many pieces actually 🙂 You are an example of power, strength, and will of living as one feels like.
    Keep up! Great job!

    1. Your words of encouragement are truly appreciated. Thank you.

  16. This in itself is so inspiring thank you for sharing the different paths of your life.

  17. Your story was really amazing. Very inspiring. Thanks gor sharing!! ❤

  18. Inspiring and emotional read for me. Many times collective experiences shape a person which ultimately define one as the truest self.

  19. Very touching story with message .It is one of the most challenging task to define a person.

  20. This is really lovely ! So much goes behind becoming or recognizing who you truly are !

  21. Heart touching story! Thank you for sharing so many things about your life and nice to know that you’re from a military background.
    Keep up the good work!!

  22. It takes courage to share so many things about own life. You made it very nicely

  23. Thank you for sharing such a personal journey. Your story of joining the military as a way of running away from your problems reminds me of when I ran off to a far away college for the same reasons, with the realization that my internal conflicts followme anywhere.

  24. Very touching, thank you for opening up about your past pain and present strengths, it will inspire others to stay strong.

  25. All of your experiences, both good and bad, have shaped you into the strong resilient person you are today. I am so sorry for the loss of your child–I can’t imagine the pain your family has suffered.

  26. This is a powerful read. Your story of joining the military to escape things in your life struck a cord with me.

  27. The story made us realize to focus on self improvement and to not surrender to life’s struggles. Thanks so much for the inspiration while reading your story. By the way, my husband also served Japan’s self Defense Force 20 years ago 🙂 Congrats for meeting Crisly, you both are awesome <3

  28. Thank you for sharing your story. I know how hard it must be to lose a baby.

  29. Thank you for sharing your story. Very inspiring to remind everyone to keep at it no matter what the situation is. Toastmasters is good. We joined it too and attended a few sessions. But since we move a lot, we could not find a club in the new city. We hope to pick it up again!

  30. I enjoyed reading your story, I really enjoyed your description of how you evolved in life and I’m happy you have a wife who was able to push and encourage you to be the better version of you. Congratulations on all your achievements.

  31. What an inspiring story. Though we are often defined by our past, I believe that we are truly define by the things we do now as our definition changes as so does ourselves.

  32. This is quite a touching story. It inspires me to improve myself. I feel that I have more talent in me that can be unlocked. Maybe that will define who I am.

  33. What a great story!! <3 every struggle there's a success after. Spread love <3

  34. ‘What an inspiring story! Thank you so much for sharing it. Looking forward for your more articles.

  35. thanks for sharing your and your wife’s story. It takes courage to open up!

  36. nice story it was very inspiring, also what a nice way to introduce yourself to your viewers.

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