In December 2011 I suffered an injury that has since proven to be my toughest opponent; requiring physical and mental strength I had no idea I could muster. And like any journey, it’s had its share of successes, and setbacks… And the corresponding moodiness.
Not long ago one of those moody setbacks came in the form of a particularly rough couple of days. The hows and whys I no longer recall. Sitting in my car before yet another workout that I really hated, I asked friends for some encouragement. Many responded with e-hugs and exclamation points. I also looked online for some sort imagery to remind me that I was committed to progress. What I discovered is that the motivational posters looked nothing like I was feeling.
I was in tears throwing stuff across the car. My friend’s well-intended remarks and the posters’ sanitized images just made me more upset because, well, I felt stabby.
They make being committed to something sound so easy, noble, pretty; like you just grin and bear whatever it is you’re experiencing.
“No Whining, No Excuses!”
“Suck it Up”
In that moment I was absolutely failing at any of those. My tears, frustration, and irritation surely meant that I had lost my commitment to getting better.
Have you ever seen a motivational poster for being committed that didn’t involve perfectly orchestrated serenity, power, or some combination of both?
I rest my case.
Commitment in practice though, when it’s really needed, is absolutely not pretty. Sure, the result of commitment looks strong and magnificent, but the actual doing part, the actions that grow that strength, is very very ugly.
Commitment happens at your weakest, most painful, and completely obliterated. Reaching it involves crying, fighting, feeling helpless and pointless. There’s nothing beautiful about finding your mental and physical gutter of despair. There’s nothing poetic in believing you’re incapable of going any further, any harder, or any longer than you already have.
Commitment is having all the excuses, the whining, and the reason to quit but doing the exact opposite, albeit kicking and screaming the entire time. It’s dragging that broken carcass of a spirit towards a goal it can no longer fathom. You’re not sure how or why you continue forward. You just do.
Commitment is not “No excuses;” it’s what you do when you can do nothing else. It’s there when all you have is excuses.
Commitment is carrying out what is necessary. And sometimes what’s necessary ain’t pretty.