Originally Published July, 2010
I wouldn’t use the word insecure. I am sure there was a little overcompensation. I think even some people may have thought me arrogant. Please believe me when I tell you the extra bravado was intended to be more of a distraction than anything else.
I knew that I was close, and because I was so close I could get by. I could talk some of the talk but I would try so hard not to. I would walk a little of the walk, enough for people to notice, not enough for anyone to think I was doing my best.
I was not.
It is easy to fool people into thinking you are good at something that can be described by a broad term. All you have to do is do what is easy for you very very well and ignore the parts you can’t do by branding them unimportant or undesirable. See, it’s easy.
I’ll give you an example. If you are an actor and you are super hot, you don’t have to act well or pick good projects if you party hard (really hard), date super hot girls or boys, crash awesome cars at high speeds, get arrested on the regular, etc, etc. It’s all a distraction. People forgive your crappy performances because they think if you ever got your shit together you could be the best, but you can’t. You are afflicted.
I’ve done this. Actually, I have been doing this pretty consistently for over a decade. I was reading some of my old work today. I was reading the comments as well. I don’t think I have ever read them. My professors fell into three categories: they were either mad at me, dismissive, or they felt sorry for me. As if I did not belong there. Reading my work and the comments today actually made me pretty angry. Mostly at myself, a little at them, we’re talking like 70/30. Ok, maybe 80/20.
The truth is, I had some talent. Not elite talent, not enough talent to not try at all and still be the best, but I was better than average. I was certainly talented enough to do something with it if I really wanted it. In hindsight, I would say I was happy being just good enough to get laid and be admired by some of my peers. Even very low levels of fame can be enough to make a guy lose context.
I would always wait for someone I admired, you know, a worker, to tell me I had what it took to be great. I wanted to be “found”. I wanted to be “discovered”. I wanted that to be the way things worked. I wanted someone to find me in the rough and polish me into a diamond.
This part of me is my greatest shame.
That being said, figuring out that you are a lazy manipulator helps you identify these characteristics in others. You will despise these people. You will see your shame in them and hate them for it. It’s just easier that way. I know this about myself and over time it has become a strength in its own weird way. It has given me perspective.
I am not concerned about people seeing this part of me because I know it’s there. I am not afraid that I’m not as strong as I think I am. I know exactly who I am. I can see myself in other people too. If you are a poser or a fake or a fraud, I see you. I feel your bravado and I am not impressed. Not because I am better than you, I am not. It is just that my awareness gives me perspective.
So here I am now. I am in this same situation again. I have built this same world around me. It just happened as if I was on autopilot. Like no matter where you move you just set your room up the same way. It just works for me. I’m good at it. I am comfortable here, walking around with crazy amounts of bravado but really I'm waiting in the rough, waiting to be discovered.
But something changed. Something is different this time. I went to Russia and it was not me who was picked. I was not adored for my wit or my charm or my brute strength. It was my friend who was chosen. He is a worker, a hustler, possibly the strongest most earnest grinder I have ever known. They loved him. I was just another guy.
Suddenly my comfort zone was shattered. I was doing it again and it was not working. My whole life had caught up with me and in that moment, in the moment Rudnev was smiling at me knowing that I had not done all the work I could have, knowing I was caught. My life changed.
I just can’t be that guy anymore. It is no longer enough to coast and be just a little better. I need more. I need to try harder. I need to work. I need to grind. Since that moment, since that smile that has scarred my mind and my heart, I can not rest if I have not worked as hard as I possibly could that day.
I have never worked harder in my life, at anything, than I have since I returned from Russia. My training, my studying, my diet (I’ve dropped 30lbs), my cardio, everything is geared towards one thing. I will meet my potential. I will find out exactly what I am made of and who I am. No more qualifiers, no excuses, no nothing. I will polish my damn self this time. If I have what it takes, if on my best day I can do it, if everything I have is actually enough, I will know when it’s over.