Updated: Jan 15
No one owes you shit.
I have been competing powerlifting for about two years now. I have competed in drug tested local and national meets, at 220 & 231 pounds. Through my powerlifting journey I have increased my squat over 130 pounds, my bench over 80 pounds, and my deadlift over 140 pounds. I am looking to total 1800 pounds this year in a raw junior power meet at either weight class. If you want to know more about me, check me out on social media or watch out for more articles coming in the future! Now on with this article!
Powerlifting is a simple sport - Lift the most weight. Yet the journey and mentality associated with it are magnitudes more complex. Polished skills take practice and practice equals time, which, in powerlifting is generally much longer than most may think. Strength takes a long time to build. Powerlifting teaches grit, consistency, and pain. There are no participation trophies, yet participation is rewarded. Heavy, taxing, working your ass off under a barbell type of participation. There are no shortcuts. It’s time to bleed.
A common thing that you hear within respective fitness circles and on the internet I quickly want to touch on is the concept of don’t compare yourself to others because this will take you nowhere and only leave you hurting. Only focus on comparing yourself to yourself. I disagree, sort of. This phrase comes from a good place and in good faith, but misses one of the most important aspects of life: the hierarchical structure of competition. Life is not about participation trophies; it is about your accomplishments and what you leave behind; your trail of blood.
Now you may be thinking, “how is the outlined concept above not representative of competition, especially intrinsically motivated competition?” Well, it is and yet it is not. I did not embark on this mental journey to flush out complete answers. However, my thought process is as follows: Humans are ancient and we fought for our survival. We are a product of and participant of the competitive hierarchy. So why would you shoot to be slightly better than yourself when you can evaluate yourself based upon winners and successful metrics. Can your fragile ego not handle it?
I wanted to bring attention to this because in order to truly push yourself and find out what you’re made of, you need to bleed, you need to fail, and you have to endure pain. You cannot rely on ‘you vs. you’ for the majority of your existence; you will grow complacent and go nowhere. It may be a good place to start to avoid toxic behaviors and learn skills necessary to interact with others efficiently. Yet the overarching concept remains: It will always be do better than before, and in competition; do better than everyone else, but it is the intense effort day after day, committing to long term - your end goals - that changes you. You pay for in blood what you have earned, not what is “owed to you”. Welcome challenges, display your scars proudly - the blood and scars are who you truly are.
My Trail of Blood
I am proud of my failures; they have shaped me into the person I am today. I believe I am blessed for the opportunities within my life and the friendships I have made along the way, but there is a common theme within it all. I have paid my dues, in hard work and blood. And I will continue to grind away towards my goals, accepting new challenges as they come, paying in a pretty valuable currency - my consistent time, effort, and blood.
However, allow me to be transparent. For a long time, I expected a lot of things. I was entitled and probably am still working through that, to a degree. I was caught up in an endless loop of not feeling good enough and to be frank, caught up being an unapologetic asshole in the weight room. If you so as looked at me, I wanted that much more to be better than you; to outwork you; to be stronger; to be leaner. And it left me without a sense of generosity, remorse, or community. Today, I feel like many exist in this loop due to their surroundings, furthermore amplified by social media. To escape this, you need to evaluate your priorities and metrics, setting yourself up for the long haul and committing to something long term. Only then can you elevate yourself from intrinsic competition and focus on competing on a much larger scale. You will then be able to appreciate competition and avoid toxicity. Set your sights on something bigger. You will get a lot further and learn a lot more from failure than subscribing to today’s culture that the world owes you a participation trophy. You pay for what you deserve in blood around here.
Exiting the Hole
To exit this loop, I did exactly this:
Unapologetically removed negative influences from my lifestyle [people, substances, thoughts]
Joyfully added positive influences into my lifestyle [community, Jesus, service, journaling]
Committed to my goals and my growth
All of these things were evaluated upon new metrics; my priorities:
My mental health, my physical well being, and my commitment to God
My family, friends, girlfriend, etc. .
Work and education [Graduate School]
Now your individual priorities may look different than mine, but I challenge you to trim the fat in your life, evaluate your priorities, and make decisions based upon what actually matters to you. Through this process you learn to appreciate struggle, pain, and blood. You enjoy struggle. You welcome uncertainty. You learn to challenge yourself. And the whole point of this was for me to challenge you. Be better. Be competitive. Don’t be average. Go all in. Lose. Get Hurt. Learn. Grow.
It’s Time to Bleed.