On mediocrity


“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

I was working through a couple of things mentally last night, trying to figure out how to fix my bench, examining all the aspects of it that need work from the ground up, and then opening my mind to the possibility that it’s something that I don’t even know is an issue, perhaps an aspect that I hadn’t even considered or that an approach to bench that I’ve never used before and that I need to consider uncharted waters entirely. At some point, an old friend crept into my mind and whispered, “What if you’ve reached your peak in that lift? What if you’ll never exceed about 85kg? What if this is as good as you can get? Why don’t you just be happy with the status quo and work on the other two lifts? Maybe you’re just not capable of being good at that one. You’ll make up more kilos in your total by working the other two more.”

Doubt and I go way back. He (come to think of it, why is Doubt a male voice in my head?) creeps in when I’m tired or feeling vulnerable and asks very similar questions each time. “What if you have reached the point of being as good as you’ll ever be?” When you are tired and staring at numbers that appear to show minuscule progress, when you have been working pretty fucking hard for a long time, when you keep taking kick after kick at getting better and fail, when you are physically and mentally sore and possibly injured, that’s when Doubt shows up.

Sometimes Doubt wears the cloak of kindness. Doubt tells us not to be so hard on ourselves, that we are genetically predisposed to not be “good” at aspect x or thing y. “You’ll never really be a great bencher; you have long arms/are female/have disproportionate levers/have a weak shoulder/are older,” are common refrains.

Doubt uses friends and family to exonerate us from tackling challenges by telling us that only a select few people can truly excel, that not everyone can be successful, that no matter how hard we work we’ll never be beautiful/strong/fit/rich because we don’t “have the genes/background for it” and that anyway the purpose of life is happiness or security or safety or.. well, you pick a convenient comfort. That we shouldn’t try so hard or want so much.

But here’s the thing. Here is the fucking thing.

What you accept is your reality.

What you choose to do in the face of Doubt is what defines you.

Because what if Doubt is wrong? What if you spent your life limited by fear and perception?

You get to choose whether you are going to be limited by your perceptions or rise above them and crash through those limitations.

You are not just your genetics, you are also your environment, your creativity, your intelligence, and your spirit; those last four are perfectly within your ability to control.

You are the one who decides whether you will exceed your perceived genetic potential through that unique combination of things that make you You.

You are greater than the sum of your parts.

You can’t choose your genes, but you can sure as hell choose how to step forward and whether to accept limitations, or see through them to something bigger.

So it’s back to the drawing board (or the gym, as the case may be), with the knowledge that self-belief is everything and it starts with a choice.


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