In our journey to become better men, the main component is an internal drive. It’s something unique to you, something you guard harder than your heart. For a lot of people, it’s a mixture of feelings of inadequacy, often stemming from childhood and adolescent experiences. These memories can make or break us. They can fuel an insatiable drive for constant improvement, or they can destroy us with perpetual distractions and pleasant – however temporary – escapes.
Your mission, first and foremost, is to find your drive. Think long and hard about everything and everyone who made you feel shitty, not good enough, and made you question your worth as a person. Then go prove them wrong. Since we tend to learn best from examples, I’ll give you my story.
Never Fitting In
I came to the states from Eastern Europe as a boy fresh out of grade school. We arrived with $100 (I’m not exaggerating) and my parents worked their asses off. We didn’t have a microwave or a dishwasher or a car. We hiked a mile to the grocery store a few times a week, which isn’t far but when you’re a little kid trying to haul bags of milk, it’s quite a workout. We lived in a dingy high rise with fire alarms tripping every other night and elevators that refused to work.
I didn’t know English so I was held back a few grades and shoved in a ‘language’ class with other foreigners. Think Tower Of Babel meets Lord Of The Flies. Our ‘teacher’ was some Jamaican lady who barely knew the language herself. In essence, we were lawfully distanced from students and teachers who taught ‘normal’ school. I had to learn English on my own, but I’m not mad – I spent a couple years watching Batman, Spiderman, and X-Men cartoons.
I was then transferred back with the rest of the students, bumped up a few grades to match my skill set, and quickly discovered that I was one of two white kids in the entire school. As you can guess, I never fit in as a result. I was bullied every day, got into fights (more like attempts at self defense) regularly, and even the teachers made fun of me. I pressed on.
When I got to high school, things started looking up – a little. There was still some bullying, but it was diverse enough that I was at least able to locate a few ‘losers’ like myself (at the time) to eat lunch with. The school required an entrance exam and I was one of a handful from my previous tenure to pass the test (it wasn’t hard, but I was surrounded by hood rats), so once again I didn’t have a clique.
I still had no sense of style, I just started liking girls, and I was going through that awkward stage with nappy hair, braces, entirely too skinny, and clothes that clearly didn’t match the times. High school can be brutal and I got to ‘enjoy’ every minute of it. I escaped to video games to not think about it. As is quite common of teenagers, at one point I entertained thoughts of suicide. It’s a dangerous age.
Then something changed.
Between junior and senior year I said fuck it. I picked up my first dumbbells and never looked back. I began to care about my appearance, my presentation, and my social skills. I got my first girlfriend a few months later after picking up sports. It was a complete disaster, but at least I got a taste. I also got my first job, started my first business, and for the first time felt ok about life.
College was several years of making myself un-awkward. I was still pretty weird, but I began to solidify several good habits, cut back on video games, all but quit watching television, and got laid enough to keep plugging. It wasn’t until after graduation and getting out into the ‘real world’ that I sensed the power within.
I proceeded to devour books like an English major, tried multiple styles to discover what worked, and began to make up for lost time, but I still had 15 years of resentment to deal with. Since then I’ve worked in multiple fields, started multiple businesses, follow a very rigid financial plan to freedom, and have become marketable enough to not worry about paying the bills.
And that brings us to now. My drive is to prove the world wrong, to show it – to show myself – that I am good enough for what I want, that I’m better than all those people who put me down, that they were all horribly wrong, and that I can achieve – within reason – whatever I put my mind to. I use it to work harder, to pound the weights, to set aggressive deadlines, and to go about every day and every interaction with an unshakable sense of self respect.
What’s Your Drive?
You don’t have to be a social reject with a decade of contempt under your belt to hustle, but it helps. Adversity builds character and gives you the fortitude (with a sprinkle of coldness) to go after what you want, because you’ve realized through experience that:
- Nothing in this world will ever be given to you. You have to take it by any means necessary.
- You have to love, respect, and have mastery over yourself before you can love, respect, and have mastery over anyone else.
- You may never fully ‘get over’ some things and that’s ok. Your goal is use those feelings, those inner issues, as fuel for the fire.
- We all have choices to make. Do what you want, do what you believe in, and you’ll attract people who want a part of it and repel those who don’t. You’re not here to please everyone.
- It’s important to leave a legacy. Whatever higher power may exist, one day you will die. What will you leave behind? Children? And will you do something significant, something that helps others, to go to your deathbed knowing that there was a reason for your existence?