If I could go back in time, would I let go of it all? Would I decide to abandon everything and never get on that plane? If I could freeze time and just stop the constant passing of time, with all of its turmoil, its tests, its obstacles, its heartaches. To just sit there and contemplate every decision I have made over the past 24 years, 6 months and 20 days, could I actually believe that the end result was worth all of this investment in time and effort?
When I look at the place I’m currently living in, the job I have, the friends I enjoy talking to and hanging out with, the trips I have gone on, the football games I have played and refereed, the songs I have sung and played on the guitar, the essays I have and have not published on this blog. Could I have done better for myself? Have I lost myself in the wrong things, misjudging the real way to enjoy life?
I do not know if I am the only one who constantly asks themselves these questions at random times of the day. I have only recently come to the realisation that everything said in motivational videos is real and accurate, to the point it becomes terrifying when you calmly think about it. In times when you are seeking motivation before a game, an interview, or during a workout, your mind would tend to focus more on the tone of voice used as well as the background music. These two factors are strongly emphasised in motivational songs and speeches, as they increase our adrenaline levels and hype us up for whatever task we may have ahead. The main impact lies in connecting our minds to our notion of self-efficacy.
In psychology, self-efficacy is an individual’s belief in their own capacity and resources to act, with the aim of reaching a specific goal. This aspect targets various sides of human endeavour. By determining the beliefs a person holds regarding their power to affect situations, self-efficacy strongly influences the power we have to face everyday challenges to the full extent of our capabilities and the choices we are most likely to make. These effects are particularly apparent and compelling with regard to investment behaviours such as physical and mental development, or even education and agriculture.
Coming back to the idea of motivational videos, increasing one’s self-efficacy is an important source of strength in order to develop muscular endurance performance. This is why we keep on encouraging each other in the middle of a game, during a workout, as it represents a resilient source of mental strength that will provide that extra boost to our body. However, is the impact similar when there is no task ahead requiring any form of motivation?
“To persevere, I think, is important for everybody. Do not give up, do not give in. There is always an answer for everything.”
– Louis Zamperini
I lost count of the number of times I heard the famous quote stating that “it is crowded at the bottom and lonely at the top”. Today, this quote frustrates me in ways I could not have pictured in my life. When I think of that quote, I remember the times I have had to just walk alone for an extended period of time. At school, university, work, internships, football training, gym workouts, songwriting, guitar playing, blog writing and other projects I found myself working on. The endgame was to help myself grow and become the best version of myself. A version that I look at in the mirror and genuinely be proud for at least once in my life. The struggle came from the constant realisation that certain roads in life are just not wide enough for somebody to accompany me down these paths.
It was always easy to embrace the lone wolf mentality when things are going your way. However, the true test of character appears when you are down on your knees, with no one around to help you get back up. In these moments, all I could process in my mind would result in me saying: “If this is the path to success, then I do not want it. I know that it will get lonely at the top, but not that lonely”. I just wanted to be part of the cool kids. The kids who are famous and praised wherever they go, who go partying every weekend in the greatest and are always invited there. Those who never have to ask anyone if they have plans, because people want to hang out with them, instead of the other way around.
In these moments, I would like an algorithm that had a coding problem. As if I was badly programmed into the software called life. All I wanted to do was just stop working so hard to become a better football player, a better songwriter, a better guitarist, a better coworker, a better brother, a better son, a better friend. In short, I did not want to go through all that time and effort investment in order to become a better version of me anymore. God knows the number of times I just raised my hand and wanted to throw it all away in anger and “enjoy life” as people on social media claim it to be.
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
– Oscar Wilde
For some reason, I could never go on with these decisions. There was this voice in the back of my head rising up to the occasion, gently whispering to me: “What would the alternative be to pushing forward?” That question would make me freeze every time. I would look at myself and everything I have been through, everything I have managed to achieve to this day. Looking back on this set of adventures, I could only project shame and remorse if I ever decide to throw it all away for something temporary. The frustration of letting it all go was something I could not accept to live with when I get older and know better. Does the pain from months and years of work and effort outweigh the success and joy felt in a few minutes and seconds? From a rational standpoint, probably. Yet I would not have it any other way.
Struggles are part of one’s identity. They are a sign of growth and expansion.
Doubt is important as well in the road to the summits of life.
It is a sign of how badly you want something.
This is why we need sources of strength when we are faced with adversity.
“Don’t you worry, child
See Heaven’s got a plan for you”
- Don’t You Worry Child by Swedish house Mafia