Side Effects

I won’t lie, I did this for me.

My mind and body were in bad shape, I started to fix one and then started to fix the other not long after. Now, while I’m still on a road to being whole, mind and body, I’m starting to see gains. I want to focus on these gains, these side-effects of “fixing” myself.

When I was twenty, I lived with a guy, he was fifty and Canadian. He read a lot, lived almost a pauper’s life, was very healthy and had very abstract-or out of the box attitude towards life.

One night we were having a smoke after work and we were talking about life, about how to identify our weaknesses and use this to build strength. It was deep, I had previously done a lot of philosophy so I thought I brought a lot to the table in the ways I was thinking and feeling towards life. Sure, the other guy had lived another thirty years and had so much more experience, but I was young and like any young kid that starts out on a path towards that “higher-level” of understanding, I was arrogant. And I was wrong.

I told him I was unhappy with who I was, who I am and where I was going in life. I was a little overweight, unfit, unhealthy and generally leading a toxic lifestyle. I told him I had to “kill off” part of who I am to improve my life and he told me I was an idiot.

Normally, when in these conversations with other people who shared similar interests, I found they often danced around certain topics. Whether they were afraid to impart their opinions or enforce their beliefs, people would be delicate with how they would criticise. Not this guy, nope. He straight up said, “no, that’s a very stupid way out of it, you’re an idiot to think this will fix anything”.

I have to admit I was a little shocked, and very defensive, I almost hated him for saying I was wrong, how dare he!?

It’s only until recently I knew how wrong I was, I took his advice and moved forward, trying to build my life back up to where I was happy again. I was still wrong, it took years to get there. Why?

Because I still thought I needed to reboot. I thought I needed to start again and reset myself for whatever reason. I was still scarred by what he said, that I was wrong to think that and like a teenager, I held onto that resentment until it became part of who I was.

Once I realised that I needed to start turning my weaknesses into strengths, my mind started to repair. I knew that becoming passionate about something and taking criticism wasn’t a bad thing, the person was trying to help me make something incredible. I stopped criticising myself, stopped getting defensive over another person’s opinion, used this to build myself up again. Much like when you’re making something creative, criticism should help you shape something to become even better than it was.

I now take on board and welcome these challengers, I know I can’t be stopped, and now if someone tries to stop me, I only get stronger, faster, better and happier. I treat challenges as learning experiences, I see obstacles as way to attack life from a slightly different angle to last time. Try and stop me now!

This guy called me an idiot and I hated this, not him, for years after. I didn’t know that him challenging something that I believed in was the greatest test of my resolve, of my ability to take a punch and keep fighting.

Now when I’m in the gym or running my guts out, I think back, remember that once upon a time, a man called me an idiot and was right about it.

Only now can I admit this to myself, and this is one of the best side-effects I’ve gained from this journey.

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