Written by the youngest candidate to finish The Process at 21-years-old: Stephan Faiazza (CAN21)

the process special forces experience

This past week, I took a challenge known as “The Process”. It is run by former Canadian and American ________________, in addition to non-military experts in self-defence, climbing, shooting, chiropractic, applied kinesiology, kinesiology and psychology, and the list goes on.

I heard about it on a podcast and was intrigued, and decided to apply for an interview. We found out later that hundreds of people were interviewed, but 31 were selected. This isn’t meant for me to brag about myself or to portray myself as hardcore. The Process was simply the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and on two instances I cried during it. I’m no “badass.” The reason I decided to do it was because I wanted a chance to see what I am really made of. I also used it as a chance to reflect on what I want from life, now that school has finished.

We were told not to disclose the actual details of the events that we went through, to preserve the integrity of the program for others who try to attempt it after us. We were the first ever group to do this, we were called “Serial 01.” With 31 members assigned, only 25 would show up to the bus on day zero.

Here is the journal I kept throughout the experience, I have edited some of it to keep some things secret, and also to expand on things that I know more about, now that it is over.

Day 0

We’re not allowed to say too much, so I’ll write what I can.

Gut check day.

It was very difficult saying goodbye to my parents; I also had trouble sleeping and eating the night before. Once I boarded the bus, it was “go time.” ____________________ ___________________________________.. 31 people were supposed to be here, only 25 showed up on the bus, (I would later learn that some backed out, while others had their flights canceled for unforeseen circumstances). The bus drove us _____ hours away from Sudbury to a place located right on the Canadian Shield. We offloaded the bus and were hiked to our camp, which would be a single tent with some _______. The tent was for eating and _____ ____; sleeping would be done outside in the environment. We will be living __________________ contains all our necessary survival equipment. At night here, it gets below zero, there is still some snow on the ground.

We were introduced to the “Cadre” today — the people who will be putting us through the experience. They are ruthless and have no sympathy or remorse.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________ #21, my favourite number that I have worn in sports all my life, my date of birth in August, and my current age. This small thing was very special to me, especially on day zero.

Today we were hammered with endless ________________________... and then at night, we had to carry________________________ muddy and wet terrain. My toes are wet and frozen, a theme that will likely be present all week.___ guys quit on day zero.

Day X

Waking up is that hardest part. It’s FREEZING, and you are still wet from the night before. Our hands and feet are cracked, hurt, and blistered.___________________________________________ _ ____________ ______________________________________________  These sessions are brutal but ________________________

We did a lot today and lost a good chunk of people due to quitting or injury. One guy got rhabdo, which is pretty crazy. We heard he’s doing okay and is in good spirits. Another guy busted an ankle on the ________________________ and was medically removed. My mind is processing how much this week is going to suck.

Day X

As I write this, we are down to ___ people. There are no words to describe this place. It is the hardest thing I have ever done, and think it might be one of the hardest challenges/experiences, for civilians, in the world. This is something a few of us candidates have agreed on. My friend Joel, one of the strongest candidates, has completed many challenges/events similar to this one but has agreed without a doubt that this is by far the hardest.

One of the tests today shook me up pretty bad. I felt like I was going to drown, and the water was freezing. I panicked and didn’t perform well, but I did not quit. ___ long days to go, I either finish, get injured, or get removed… but I will not quit. Glad to still be here.

Day X

Tough day, we had to do some climbing/rappelling and________________________The night was hard. We rucked about ___, hopped in a trailer, got driven to another spot, and rucked another ___ through the night. When we got back, we were beaten down with a “concentration session” of and ________________________ as punishment for our infractions and failure to follow directions earlier in the day… the Cadre do not FORGET. We all suffered today, we had blistered feet and sore bodies.

_________________________________ __________________ _______________ ______________________________________

Day X

I miss friends, family, and my dog. Still hanging in there. We woke up today blistered, broken, and cold. “just get through the morning, and you win the day” is what I keep telling myself. Out here, all those motivational quotes and self-help books go right out the window. None of that shit means a thing when you’re out here.

One guy quit this morning, leaving us with ___ men. Hated seeing him go. We have all become very close, and these guys are a huge part of me getting through this. A ________________________ go a long way out here.

Today was the toughest day yet. We had to carry ________________________________________________ and then bring them back. One candidate quit right at the beginning of this. A shocking blow to the group. I liked him. We are down to ___ men now. Anyways, I have been designated team leader today, meaning I am responsible for waking people up, checking on them, and ensuring we stay true to all our required timings and instructions. Well, today I was targeted by the Cadre and got my ass handed to me for failing to meet their expectations. It was the most stressful day of my entire life. I am exhausted, but ________________________________________________

During downtime and nighttime, I am starting to hallucinate/dream. Sometimes I hear the Cadre yelling at us when no one is really there. Super weird, this place is crazy.

We ended the night with an event that had some ________________________________________________. It also wasn’t freezing. One minute this environment is freezing, the other, it is super hot. Oh well, I signed up for a tough experience, and that is what I am getting.

Day X

The stopwatch I was provided with by the Cadre is an hour behind, so I missed our wake-up timing and we all paid the price for it during the morning ________________________. I will now be using the sunrise as our official alarm clock. ___ full days left, I am trying not to think of home, friends, or family. Just trying to stay in the moment, one event at a time. “make it to breakfast, make it to lunch, make it to dinner, make it to bed, and repeat.”

Getting to know the guys more and more, we have a solid group. I hope we all make it out together. Last night we cried laughing, listening to Phil and Travis snoring. They sounded like vacuum cleaners. Also, Joel locked himself in his sleeping bag and woke up in a claustrophobic panic… I did as well, thinking we were being awoken by the Cadre in the middle of the night… my heart sank for a second. The next morning he asked if I felt him jolt up in a panic, then we both started howling.

At lunch, we were fed________________. There was also a pizza box to the side, and we have been served pizza for lunch before, so we didn’t think anything of it. One guy opened the box and we were immediately shocked to see homemade cookies in the shape of a pizza. Everyone immediately cried out “OOHHH!!”…. haha, like we struck a gold mine. Out here, the little things matter so much, it really put it into perspective. I will never forget our reaction to those cookies. Unfortunately, this is also when they brought out a ________________________________________________ survival situation… “Pay attention, you may be required to do this.” …. No one said a word. This place is a total mind game.

Later we had to do it as a team, and of course, I was picked by the Cadre to carry out the procedure that would kill ________________________________________________ harvesting. Well, it screamed when I took hold of it, and that bothered me. I got it done, but given that it was my first time killing something, I felt a little upset. The Cadre reminded us how all the meat we consume today has been killed by another man, in a systematic and often terrible process. This helped me feel better, and I agree with him.

It’s getting harder as the days go on. One of my buddies, Travis, separated his knee during a __________ session, and we thought we lost him! ….. his response to the medics? “you’ll have to carry me out of here in a fucking body bag”…. haha, hard as fuck, former ________________________, the same year I was born… I call him dad.

___ of us remain, morale is high. I think the toughest days will be the last _______. Can’t wait to be home.

Day X

Last night was brutal.__________. Feet got wet, toes got smashed… bad night. It was also the coldest yet, I’ve never shivered so hard in my life. This morning we learned how to ____________________, in case we get kidnapped. We also learned what to do if we______________________________________________________ ____________ ____________________________________________.

It’s a cold, rainy morning. We’re huddled up in our__________trying to stay warm with our body heat. My friend Landen gave me a pair of warm socks because all my others were wet and frozen. This was a total LIFESAVER… my toes were in bad shape. Less than__________ to go, let’s do it!

Long ass______ today, we’ve been on our feet all day. The Cadre____________________, and some even__________ Morale is high despite the rain, looking forward to finishing this damn thing.

Another note, had to____________________, which made me feel a __________. My friend Ira said to me “you should be worried if you stop feeling sad about killing something.” This made me feel a lot better and made me realize what I was feeling is normal. Also, this is the purest way of eating meat, killing it yourself, and knowing where it came from.

Day X

Last night was tough. We spent half the night____________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________However, all __ are still here and still strong.______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________No freezing last night.

We also did end up getting put into_____________________________________________________ _____ ___________________________________________ _______________ _____________ _____________________ _________ ____________________ ________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ ____________________________________ _______________________ __________ ______________________ ________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________ with a former CANSOF veteran leading the way….. who else can say that? So cool.

They’re treating us________________________________________________ _____ __________________ ________________________________ _____________________ __________________________________________ ______________ ___________________________ ______________________ ________________ ________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________  ____ I feel proud wearing these_____… I think I’m going to cry when this is over.

They gathered us outside the__________today, and as we sat there shivering, we listened closely to what we thought would be our final event, or “evolution.” __________________________________ ____________ ______ _________________________… In disbelief, we looked around, clueless. It can’t be true. They’re messing with us…. I began to tear up. We shook all of their hands, they each gave a speech, we had a beer, and then began the decompression stage. It’s over. WE DID IT.

Phase 4 Decompression

We talked with the Cadre and learned how truly amazing they all are. These are some of the best people the world has to offer. I knew this coming in, and is why I suffered 8 days just to spend time with them.

We did our exit interviews, medical check-ups, and even got the chiropractor to work on us, physically and mentally—he’s amazing, and it was awesome just to watch him work.

If I can say anything to the candidates who quit, it would be to not let this define you. Use it, learn from it, and absolutely crush whatever you decide to take on next in the world. You do that, and this truly wasn’t a failure.

I’m not sure what the other 6 guys did mentally to make it through, I’d love to hear their version of this experience. Physically, we all ranged in build, height, age, and weight, a truly diverse group. For me, I pretended I was serving an 8-day prison sentence and simply had to finish it if I wanted to go home. I pretended there just wasn’t an option to quit. Just serve the sentence and you get out. It seemed to work well.

To the men of Serial 01, you guys are my brothers and I will never forget you. You helped me make it through this, and I’m not sure I would have survived without you all.

— Stephan (CAN21)

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!