I signed the line. Chicken scratched my name. And that was it. I was now officially a member of Cardinal Fitness. I was so pumped. I was 120 pounds of skin n’ bone. I couldn’t wait to look like all those guys you see in the magazines with rippling abdominals, bulging biceps and brass chests. My first workout program I ever tried I ripped out of a Men’s Fitness magazine and I knew exactly what I was doing.
Not in hell. I was destroying my freakin body. After the first week I hated it. But I kept going because dammit, I wanted to look like a comic book super hero no matter what pain it took.
That’s when I shifted my way of thinking forever.
The Raw Truth About Getting What You Want (okay maybe it’s not raw. It could be cooked Truth but a little cooked Truth never hurt anyone- especially when it’s well prepared).
If I ask you, “What do you want out of life?” and you say something like, “I want to be happy and have a great family and a job I love,” it’s so unacceptable that it doesn’t even mean anything.
What if you changed it too perhaps a question you’ve never considered before; such as: is the pain I’m going through to get what I want tolerable forever? Seriously, what are you willing to struggle for? Because that seems to be a way better guide of how our lives turn out.
The reason why people are so fixated on creating a lifestyle brand is because they want freedom, right?
Everybody wants to own that business OR have an amazing job and financial freedom — but not everyone wants to suffer through 60-hour work weeks, long commutes, or obnoxious paperwork. People want to be rich without the risk, without the sacrifice, without the delayed pleasure but dammit this is all necessary to accumulate wealth.
I don’t know one person who doesn’t want to have great sex and an awesome relationship — but not everyone is willing to go through the initial tough conversations, those awkward silences, and the potential rejection. Everybody wants to be a famous actor but not everyone is willing to get thousands of deprecating notes from a director, thousands of rejections from casting directors and a super unstable income stream.
And so they settle. They settle and wonder “What if?” for years and years until the question morphs from “What if?” into “Was that it?”
This is the part that sucks.
Happiness requires struggle. The positive is the side effect of handling the negative. To be happy means you took some hits. You shed some tears. You did some heavy lifting. You went through some boredom and problem solving.
The thing that human behavior is all about is struggle; our needs are more or less the same. Uplifting experience is easy to handle.
What separates the men from the boys….
It’s negative experience that we all, by definition, struggle with. (Hey, I know I’m far from freakin perfect.)
The thing is- what we get out of life is not based off the good feelings we desire but by what bad feelings we’re willing to expierence each and everyday to get us to those good feels.
Let me hit you with some literal examples.
People want an amazing physique. But you don’t end up with one unless you legitimately appreciate the pain and physical stress that comes with living inside a gym for hour upon hour, and you have to love the unsatisfactory of never being able to obtain the physique you want. To put on muscle you have to love eating a little more then you’re used to and feeling full like you just ate fat bastard from Austin powers. Or when you’re trying to cut some weight you’re going to have to deal with feeling hanger pangs every now and then.
Everybody wants something. And everybody wants something enough. The big difference is exposing people to experience the pain that gets them to that overall want and then knowing that no matter how many more wants you do get. You’ll desire some more wants.
Because if you want the paychecks that buy you mansions, than you have to also want the costs. If you want the beach body, you have to want the sweat, the soreness, the bad body image relationship and the hunger pangs.
I know; it sucks but it’s just part of the deal.
If you find yourself wanting something year after year, yet nothing happens and you never come any closer to it, then maybe what you actually want is a fantasy, a Dream, an image and a false promise. Maybe you don’t actually want it at all.
So I know there’s some questions I’ve already mentioned.
“How do you choose to suffer?” Because you have to choose something. You can’t have a pain-free life. It can’t all be chocolates and Netflix television. And ultimately that’s the hard question that matters. Pleasure is an easy question.
Formulated in another Greek god like way fashion “what pain are you willing to sustain?”
That answer will actually get you somewhere. It’s the question that can change your life. It’s what makes me me and you you. It’s what defines us and separates us and ultimately brings us together.
Mini- Story Time
At the moment I’m putting Acting on the back burner, why?
See, I fantasized about being a actor — a celebrity, in particular. Any badass characters I witnessed in a movie, I wanted to become. I would close my eyes and envision myself in a gigantic theater screen, web slinging my way around New York playing- Spider-Man. People absolutely losing their minds to my presence. This fantasy could keep me occupied for hours on end. The fantasizing continued up through college, even after I graduated.
Then reality hit. Auditions didn’t pay money. Auditions didn’t fill me up with meaning. I didn’t like waiting round for another person to judge my acting. I didn’t like spending hours memorizing sides only to “maybe get the role.”
Despite fantasizing about this for over several years, the reality never came. And it took me a long time and a lot of negative experiences to finally figure out why: I didn’t actually want it.
Maybe there’s an inkling of wanting to be an actor still in me. Maybe in the future. But as of right now. I love creating this shit for you guys. Whether you love it or hate it. I’m willing to go through that pain to be successful.
I was in love with the result — the image of me being in the theaters, or women running up to me, pouring their hearts into what I’ve done for their life — but I wasn’t in love with that process. And because of that, I failed at continuing acting.
Our culture would tell me that I’ve somehow failed myself, that I’m a quitter or a loser. Self-help would say that I either wasn’t courageous enough, motivated enough or I didn’t believe in myself enough. The entrepreneurial/start-up crowd would tell me that I I’m a chicken shit and I didn’t risk enough. I’d be told to do affirmations or join another class and spend more money on another acting class.
Which is totally cool for those who really want to keep going through that pain. But that’s just not for me right now.
But the truth is (well, cooked Truth)- is that I’m far less interested in possibly making a good movie, possibly making it on broadway. It turns out that Acting will still be there if I decide to pursue it later when I move to Los Angeles.
For now; I’m lucky to have an outlet that stills cuts me open emotionally- writing and attempting to fill you minds up and make a damn impact. To those who deserve it.
See, I wanted the reward and not the struggle. I wanted the result and not the process. I was in love not with the fight but only the victory. And life doesn’t work that way.
Who you are is defined by the values you are willing to struggle for. People who enjoy the struggles of a gym are the ones who get in good shape. People who enjoy long workweeks and the politics of the corporate ladder are the ones who move up it. People who enjoy the stresses and uncertainty of the starving artist lifestyle are ultimately the ones who live it and make it.
This is not a call for willpower or “grit.” This is not another counseling of “no pain, no gain.”
This is the most simple and basic component of life: our struggles determine our successes. So choose your struggles wisely, my friend.
Comment below and let me know what struggles you’re choosing.