I’ve never really considered myself athletic. Actually, I was the always the short Asian kid at school that always got picked last for every sport. Much of the time, I was the odd man out who got to watch from the sidelines. And when I did get a chance to play, most of the time people didn’t pass me the ball! #*$@#$)(* [insert expletive here]. Never mind the fact that I was the fastest sprinter in my class until age 12 when all the boys that hit puberty first started to make me look like a child.
But things have changed quite a bit.
I run or bike or swim or lift weights about five times a week. I’m far from where I want to be and my athletic prowess probably falls somewhere between amateur and hobbyist – but I’m not competing against other people. I’m competing with myself.
Life is like that.
We’re brainwashed to believe that we need to drive the flashy car and frequent the popular night clubs with two supermodels on each arm while wearing the designer sunglasses with the casual shoes to contrast the dressy jacket and bow-tie. You look terrible, by the way.
We’re unsatisfied with ourselves no matter how much we achieve. We believe that everyone cares about what we accomplish, and we spend our mental energy in vain attempting to match ourselves up to everybody else’s Facebook profile page.
In reality, the only person that cares about you is the person in the mirror. The only person you have to compete with is yourself.
Life is a marathon. For the most part, it matters more that we keep going and that we finish than how many people we beat along the way (or how many physical anomalies smash our faces in without even trying).
I was riding my bike a couple weeks ago and ate it pretty hard on the pavement after misjudging a bump in the road. My wrists have been in bad shape since then. They get better every day, but it still hurts a ton whenever I put pressure on them [you’d be surprised how much you use your wrists for stability – opening the refrigerator door, hopping out of a pool, carrying heavy plates out of a microwave].
And yet I have not missed a day at the gym. Sure it hurts, but except for the exercises that put direct pressure on my wrists (think tricep pushdown), I refuse to change my routine.
Isn’t life like that, though? Do we not walk around with invisible injuries?
Haven’t you ever been fired? Dumped? Publicly humiliated? Do these not take their toll on our psyche to some small degree over a period of years?
Yet the truth is, nobody cares about our pain. What they want to see is that we’re still willing to step into the arena. If we’re not playing the game, we can never hope to win. And if you ever watch pro sports, you’ll notice that come playoff time, there isn’t single team that doesn’t have at least one key player pushing through injuries to help their team win a championship.
And in life, if you want to be a champion, you are going to have to suck it up and put yourself out there. There’s no other way.