If you ask most people about me and my personality, most will say that I’m a good guy, I love God, and some may even go as far to say that I am a good leader. Now if some of those same people were honest, they may describe me as kind of a jerk, a little conceited and overconfident for no reason. And if I were honest, I’d agree with them. But I didn’t become the man that I am overnight or by coincidence.
Growing up I wasn’t “popular,” I wasn’t coordinated or athletic. I wore thick framed glasses and I was (am) a nerd. I tried to fit in with the cool kids but I was never successful. Whether it was because of the Bugle Boy tee shirts, the no name bo bo sneakers from Payless, or my jeans with the holes in the knees, I was always a misfit. As I got older I began to realize that I wasn’t a misfit by accident, but it was for a reason.
My mother, from the time I was in the first grade, would tell my brothers and I about having high self esteem and not worrying about what others said or thought about us because it didn’t matter. It was these lessons that laid the foundation for the future.
Fast forward to freshman year in high school when I told my father that I wanted to play football. He was shocked because I had quit Pop Warner multiple times. He said that if I started he wouldn’t let me quit this time. So he signed the papers and I was off to “hell week.” That’s exactly what that week of conditioning felt like. Hell. Everyday I woke up more sore than the day before but I still pushed through it and went to the double and triple sessions everyday. It was in this time that I began to find out just what I was made of. Needless to say, I made it through the week and played on the freshman team. I was one of the leaders on the team, not because I wanted to be but I just worked and always wanted to push myself and my teammates to be better. After that first season when we started the off season lifting I found a new love.
The time I would spend in the weight room was always productive. I had found a place that I could develop and build my body to handle the rigors of sport. All through high school, with every new max, with every pound of lean muscle I put on, I began to walk with more confidence. Not because I felt I was stronger than the next guy or because I thought my arms looked better than the next guy’s, but the confidence came from actually being secure within who I was. Knowing that no matter what others said or thought about me, it had no bearing on my life and it just didn’t matter to my success or failures. Weightlifting taught me that no matter the obstacle to overcome, it could be done. It may take a little more work than expected, but if you’re willing to put in the work, there’s nothing you can’t do! Knowing this created a sense of security and caused me to “break out of my shell.” By the time I got to college, I didn’t walk around with a “big head” but I did hold my head a little higher than most. I walked a little taller and had no problem with telling someone who I was. Through all of this though, I never thought I was better than anyone else. I knew and still know that I’m human just like everyone else and there’s nothing that I do that can’t be done by someone else. Because the second you begin to elevate yourself above other people, you can expect to be hated and eventually your sanctuary of insecurities will crumble around you.
Lifting weights made me a better athlete and helped me to see that there is always more work to be done. You are never really “there.” I also gained the mindset to push and press my way through anything in life because the only way I’m guaranteed to lose is if I don’t try. I’m thankful that God made me a misfit. If I were apart of the “in crowd” I would have grown up with a sense of entitlement that all “cool kids” seemed to have. It would have been that trait that would have been detrimental to my growth as an athlete and as a man. No matter what it is in life, always work for the things you want. If there are people around telling you what you can and can’t do, shut them up and grind even more to get where you want to be!
What are some things that exercising has taught you about yourself? Leave your comments below!