I’ve been having frequent nightmares for the last ten years or so, up to the point that they really mess with my head at times. I had one of those last night. Long story short; I hurt people and they left me. My best friend was there and despite me being mean to her, she still wanted to stick with me. It ended with me going into an uncontrollable rage, my best friend wondering why it happened and my mother answering: “He wants the world to be fair, but it isn’t and he can’t cope with that.”
I know it’s really cool to spam Facebook and Instagram with inspirational, hardcore images and quotes about sacrifice and pain, all for the sake of achieving results in the gym, but despite me being a competitive athlete, I don’t consider myself ‘hardcore’ or anything like that. It’s true that I always say how much I want to prioritize my training, up to the point that when me and my girlfriend got together 5 weeks ago, my best friend lectured me about not messing up my training just so I could spend more time with my girlfriend. I laughed, of course I wouldn’t. When I was in the car with my weightlifting team and mentioned that I had a new girlfriend, they laughed and quoted another weightlifter who apparently said that “it was better not to have a girlfriend, since women just get in the way of your career anyway”. Obviously, I laughed again and said that it wouldn’t be an issue with me.
Some people, usually not athletes, think that I’m a hardcore athlete because I will adapt my nutrition to specific goals, am more concerned with winning competitions than preventing injuries and will sometimes travel for hours or skip a party just so I can properly train. Recently I’ve been trying to make plans for the coming years on how to ensure my progress in lifting, and that might take money, energy and time that I can’t invest anywhere else.
My thoughts drifted to the subject occasionally over the last few weeks, thinking about how far I wanted to go for my lifting career, and then two things happened. I saw the movie ‘The fault in our stars’ yesterday (watch it, trust me, it’s pretty intense and thought provoking) and I had the nightmare I mentioned. Not long after I woke up, I confirmed that my girlfriend was in fact there, realized that I had not done anything excruciatingly douchebaggy to my best friend, stood on the balcony, put on some music on my phone and stood there for… Probably close to an hour. There’s this cheesy saying that goes “Live everyday like it’s your last”. I always thought it was a silly saying, but after seeing ‘The fault in our stars’, where a teenage girl is dying from cancer, a question popped into my head. What if I heard today that I’d be dead tomorrow? Would I go to the gym to try and set a personal record while I still could or would I go to my parents instead, to tell them how proud I am to be their son? Would I worry about the amount of body fat I carry or would I be more concerned that perhaps I never made clear to my best friend that I appreciate her tenacity in trying to keep me from being a fucking idiot? Would I be frustrated over that lift I missed at my last competition that I can never re-do or would I be sad that I feel so blessed with having people like my girlfriend and my friends in my life but that I possibly never expressed it to them enough? Would I spend time on that day trying to impress as many people as I could with the weight I can lift overhead or would I spend that time hugging my little siblings and telling them to become go-getters and fight to make their lives as awesome as possible?
I haven’t gotten a call from the man upstairs and as far as I know, I am in good health, so I’ll just keep on lifting and doing things I’m passionate about, but I have to remind myself that nothing is worth the regret I might feel if I choose to invest too much in lifting and too little in the people I care about.
The world isn’t fair, it really isn’t. You get fucked over, people die, you hurt those you love and other shitty things will happen. There will probably be times where you have to be selfish and focus on matters at hand rather than on the people around you too much, but you better make up for lost time sooner or later. Telling people around you that you care, or even better, expressing it through your actions, can mean the world to others. Decide for yourself how much time and effort you are willing to spend on your sixpack or squat when there are people who would love just a bit of your time.
This is not a recommendation to slack on your passions, far from it. It’s a reminder to dedicate part of your life to loving people and through that, becoming a better and happier person.
“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices.” – Augustus Waters in ‘The fault in our stars’