Being shredded will not change your life.
Other’s perception of you may change but if you’ve been there, you intimately understand that it doesn’t actually change you.
Let me explain.
You’re out on a Friday night and others may see a living sculpture, a walking piece of art, and maybe admiration flows from the work and dedication that took to get there.
Or more likely, there is a sneer of jealously. There are jabs that hint at your reclusion or your inability to have fun and eat some pizza and drink beer.
They reek of projection and insecurity. But, they are not the only one.
The night will end and you will rush home. It’s sad but the most present you’ve been the entire night is when you take your shirt off and stand before the mirror. The invisibility cloak finally comes off and you are exposed for the façade that you are.
For minutes that feel like hours, you are a surgeon with a finely tuned scalpel dissecting your body inch by inch. Others may see a sculpture but you see nothing but imperfection.
All night, instead of enjoying your company, you judged.
Without asking, you knew no one had a date with the gym the next morning. They were too consumed with shitty IPAs, mediocre women, and the contentment of being average.
The inner ego pacifies you for a moment. Whispers, no, it yells trying to drown out the maniacal critic that you’re better than them. To some extent, you are.
But the story runs deeper.
The gym has been fixated on your mind since the moment Bulleit grazed your lips.
Don’t they see you? Haven’t they noticed the shape you’re in? Why haven’t they?
Fuck it. Another Bulleit, please.
A passerby can’t help notice the steely, intensity in your eyes.
You’ve long removed yourself from the bar but you keep drinking to forget, a futile attempt to quiet the voice that you’ve always run from.
5 more lbs, you tell yourself.
You reconsider, think deeper, and prolong the long introspective moment that’s been the entirety of your life.
The master waits for you. Stockpiles of self-improvement books and thousands of hours of sweat equity have not been sufficient offerings. It wants more but you have no more left to give.
The bourbon is crisp and some of the finest you’ve had. But, you don’t know that. You drink like you do everything else. Onto the next.
Something happens. Time slows just enough, your mind quiets. For the first time, you notice the girl across from you. She’s here but absent. Her energy betrays her. For the first time, you empathize.
That’s what you’ve sought all these years.
Thousands of reps and countless hours sacrificed. The cruel irony can’t help but draw out a quiet smirk.
Saturday morning comes but something’s different.
You want to go, you don’t need to; it’s subtle.
For a decade, the gym was your outlet to project your insecurity onto the world. It was the race without an ending. 5 more lbs of muscle would have been 5 more lbs of muscle until you were standing on stage looking like the Hulk dressed in sheep’s clothing.
The bar is light but heavy.
4 reps in and your chest is screaming with the fire of a thousand suns. I want 10.
7 reps in and you’re laughing at the pain. I want 10.
You stop at 11, 1 extra just for fun.
Stand up, see white lights and black out for a second. Look in the mirror; it’s different this time.
For the first time, you see who you are, not who you want to be.
You smile, the inner voice sleeps; this is it.
I want 12 next set.