Or: why being strong is mandatory.
No matter how much we try to sugarcoat it, no matter how much progress we seem to make, no matter how much evil gets eradicated from the world, no matter how much people preach peace and love, the world has always and will forever be a battleground, a ruthless place where only the strongest get what they want, and everyone else is left wondering how it’s possible for them to be unhappy and unsuccessful, when we were told for a long time that everyone was deserving and that everyone was a winner. It’s sad, and yet, sobering, to realize that even if we roar mightily to the skies, the world will never consist of equality, that regardless of how much we try to create an earth where everyone can be happy and feel good all the time, competition will always exist and some will be rewarded more than others, some will be happier than others, more successful, and also, better than others.
Competition doesn’t necessarily happen between two or more individuals, and competition doesn’t mean that the only way to win is to beat and bury someone else who’s also trying to rise. Competition takes place every day, and every instance of competition is a fight in which your abilities to push back are tested. We are always competing: against ourselves, against our past, against our temptations and bad habits, against those that want to see us fail, against life itself. Competition is a basic truth that will always govern many of our endeavors and interactions, and guess what? The strong always have a better chance of winning than the weak.
Such is the way things are and a quick, logical analysis would inevitably yield the fact that we have to train and prepare ourselves for the perpetual battles of life by pursuing strength. This isn’t a pretty and delicate task, nor should it be. It’s a gruesome and challenging path to follow. Treating your workout sessions and the hours spent on the church of iron as merely a means to look “fit”, or as a social opportunity to chat and feel good is both a waste of time and a perpetuation of a culture that is too focused on faking stuff and forgets that noble achievements don’t usually happen as a consequence of something pretty and soft, but as a result of ugly, sweaty, and gruesome action.
Omission of the previous statements is what has made of the gym a place where most people go to chat or simply to be able to proudly make claims about their “fit” lifestyle and the values of their character. We are slowly creeping away from those times in which people at the gym would be actually working hard and suffering physical pain for the sake of improvement, and into a soft age where the gym is packed with people that use gloves because “calluses look ugly”, that use pussy pads for squats because “the iron bar feels uncomfortable”, that simply look at their phone for an hour and then leave. Treat your time at the gym as a sacred ritual, see it as a means to test your will and become resilient. Throw excuses out of the window, throw complaints out of the window, and find meaning in the voluntary hardships that are to be found when you train. It hurts? Good. Are your hands getting rougher? Good. They are reminders of your hard work. Be proud of those things that prove that you’ve put in the work, don’t try to avoid them, don’t try to exchange them for what you think other people will like, and make of them a constant reminder that you’re made of stronger metal, that you’ve dedicated hour upon hour to the pursuit of improving your physical capabilities.