The Subtle Lifestyle of a Loser
Before we really get into it, I want to lay out some background. Let me tell you about my summer.
I set a goal in high school to graduate college and go straight into the workforce, writing about sports. In May, I graduated from IUPUI with a Bachelor’s in Journalism. I did not go straight into the workforce. And, as of this writing, I still haven’t.
I have been working — at Walmart. It’s not as bad as it sounds. I worked there throughout college, and they gave me the flexibility to essentially work when I wanted. I got the hours I needed — nothing more, nothing less.
Don’t get me wrong: I am not happy to still be working there. But it’s also not my biggest problem.
Let’s rewind back to March when coronavirus really started getting ahold on things. School moved online and the world was in quarantine. Unless you were an essential worker, of course. As a Walmart employee, I qualified as such.
I met a girl working there. We chatted here and there. It was no big deal. We talked more over time and she eventually followed me on Instagram. It didn’t take long for the conversation to get going.
We texted all day, every day for a long time. She was interested in me, I was interested in her. As someone that doesn’t get that kind of attention very often, I fell in. Deep.
I overthought everything. EVERYTHING. I thought about her all the time. We had fun at work together, we texted so much. It seemed so clear that we were on our way to being something more.
Roadblocks started appearing, as they do in life. When school ended, she became a workaholic. She worked three jobs and had no time for me. But surely, when summer ended, we’d hit the ground running and be on our way to building something special.
I thought about the same things every day. Whether I was on a walk, bike ride, or car ride with sad music on and no destination in mind, I would run through our situation.
It was much tougher early on. We hung out once before school ended and I hoped that would be the first of many. Just a few hours after I dropped her off, she made sure I was OK with just being friends. She had thoughts of past boyfriends still lingering in her mind and was about to become very busy.
I was OK with this. “It should only be an issue for a few months, right? I can be strong this summer, build as much of a foundation as possible, and we’ll see where we are come August.”
Well, it’s August. Guess what? Nothing has changed. We haven’t hung out since the first time. While I sat at home bored all summer, working 30 hours a week and writing whenever I felt like, she was busy. I waited by the phone for texts for many hours of many days. I was miserable.
August was always the benchmark month in my mind. As we got to the middle of July, I started realizing the unlikelihood of a change occurring by August. She’s weeks away from starting grad school and while her work grind will slow down, it’ll still be a lot. There will be no time for me once again.
With her summer schedule, I didn’t see her much at work anymore. I would see her occasionally, and it was nice, but not enough. Last week, I texted her asking if I would get to see her at all once school starts, also mentioning I was sad that I don’t get to see her anymore.
She was working her other job and didn’t respond, but I saw her on my way out. She was talking to a coworker and I jumped in. She didn’t look at me or talk to me unless I spoke to her first. I stood there and smiled, awkwardly participating in the conversation. Later that night, she texted something along the lines of, “You got to see me today!!!!!!!”
That was my breaking point. She spent an entire summer acting interested in me through text, yet wouldn’t make time for me. When I actually see her, she essentially acts like I’m not there.
From an outside view, anyone would say I should’ve dropped her long ago. Hell, my mom said it to me multiple times. It was hard to, so I didn’t. I hung in hoping effort would be enough.
While spending much of spring and all of summer in a state of suffering over something that could be was not fun, I am thankful for it now. It was the wakeup call I needed.
“Focusing on myself” is easier said than done. To this point, I have put too much of myself into women that haven’t wanted me. As many do when they get rejected, I questioned why. “What am I doing wrong here?” “Why don’t women want me?”
I would get sad, then get motivated to improve myself, then fall back into the cycle with a new girl. Rinse, repeat. I was stuck on a hamster wheel of suffering, caused by measuring my self-worth in acceptance from women.
I was on a track that would’ve had me as a submissive boyfriend/husband, living life for my wife and not much else. I have dreamed of being a sports writer since I was a kid; it has been my most consistent goal in life. While that goal has mostly changed to just wanting to write about anything, it’s still remained relatively unchanged. But there were points this summer where I began questioning what I really wanted out of life. I didn’t care as much about that goal as I used to. I just wanted her and I would’ve been happy.
Knowing what I know now, after discussing this with people in my life and watching plenty of YouTube videos on the subject, this has been my biggest failure. I let myself get to a point where I was willing to measure the entirety of my life by the woman I wanted to be with. And she wouldn’t even make time for me!!
Placing a piece of your identity onto the shoulders of another person will always cause heartache. People come and go, no matter what you tell yourself. In the search for a significant other, we often build a false reality in our heads. We think about the future and what could be. When it comes crashing down, it hurts. But not because something significant was taken away from us. The movie we directed in our head had a different ending than we originally planned.
The fewer movies we create in our heads, and the more real-life impact we create on a daily basis, the better our lives will be.
Our lives are made up of collective actions over time. If your thoughts aren’t leading to actions, they are useless, and potentially even harmful. My spring and summer was full of these useless, harmful thoughts. Instead of spending my time building myself up to become more attractive to potential job suitors, creating experiences that could have added positive value to my life, or working on the ever-so-important practice of daily disciplines, I wrecked my brain with thoughts about what could or couldn’t be with a girl that spent her time doing other things.
While I am ashamed to have let myself go down that road, I am happy to have now reached the end of the tunnel and realize how bright and beautiful it is on the other side.
And really, life is a tunnel. You could live a life of little-to-no resistance, driving at a steady pace with that light always within reach. But until action is taken — consistently, over time — you will never bathe in that light.
I have not spent a tremendous amount of time practicing what I’m preaching, so don’t take me for an expert. But over the past few months, I have become an expert on the practice of useless, self-created suffering. And while it hasn’t been long, and every day is a challenge, I am starting to see positive momentum in my life. That momentum will not continue unless daily disciplines are practiced, and action is taken.
What do I mean when I say “daily disciplines?” Essentially, these are habits. Earlier I said, “Our lives are made up of collective actions over time.” A large part of those collective actions is our daily habits. Whether you realize it or not, you go through a relatively similar routine every day. You wake up at a certain time, eat at a certain time, work at a certain time. Perhaps you exercise or spend leisure time doing certain things.
The more consistent we become in designing a rigid schedule of positive daily disciplines the better. Consistent, positive actions create momentum.
Everyone lives a different life, so I cannot tell you how to design your schedule. But I can tell you how I have been designing mine.
- I aim to go to bed between 9 and 10 p.m. and wake up by 6 a.m. at the latest. I would love to be out of bed by 5:30 but it is harder some days than others.
- Within an hour of waking up, I go for a run. The past few days, I have been able to do three miles pretty easily.
- I finish my run, sip on water and Body Armor Lyte, then do 150 bicycle crunches. I have been working to get abs on and off for six years. These daily actions I have taken over the past week have shown me more progress in my core than I saw in all those prior years.
- I shower, then eat a three-egg omelet with some cheese and bacon bits. Alongside a cup of coffee, of course.
The rest of the day depends on the day of the week:
- If it is a Monday or Wednesday, I will try to plan future stories for my newsletter or perhaps write a bit. I may read some news, watch pre-market analysis on CNBC, or catch up on sports highlights from the night before, then get to work by 9. After work, I will catch up with family, perhaps see a friend, then do some more writing and reading. I have also been searching for jobs lately, so mix that in throughout the week.
- If it is a Tuesday or Thursday, I’m off from work! The beginning of my day remains the same, but I will spend more time writing, reading, and researching. On Thursdays, I do a weekly NBA podcast, and a few hours of the day is spent watching games and preparing before we record around 6 p.m.
- On the weekends, my morning routine must be sped along quicker, as I need to be at work by 8. This requires more discipline in getting up early enough to complete my morning routine in full before having to clock in.
Operating on a disciplined schedule full of worthwhile, positive actions is easier said than done. It is easy to see the benefits but the act of actually sticking to it is what holds so many people back. It’s easy to say you’ll wake up early, go for a run, eat a healthy breakfast, and work towards something you’re passionate about all before your work (or school) day even begins. All it takes is one action — hitting that snooze button, foregoing that run, or stopping by McDonald’s— to ruin all those wonderful plans.
We as humans love looking for comfort. We seek easy paths and limited change. But this is not the lifestyle of a happy person that is seeing personal growth on a daily basis.
Listening to David Goggins has been a key factor in my mindset change. This is a person that lived that easy life. He succumbed to food that led to initial pleasure but eventual mass weight gain. He avoided the pain and sweat required in working out. He had a “secure job” that added no actual value to his current or future life.
Goggins looked at himself in the mirror and realized he was a loser. He hated his life and wanted to change it. He identified all of his weaknesses and worked his ass off every day to demolish them. He realized that giving yourself the easy way out sets you on a path towards despair.
In an interview he did with Joe Rogan, Goggins said a line that stuck with me: “It takes a lot of guts to schedule suffering into your everyday life.”
I set this quote as a Reminder to pop up on my phone every day at 8 a.m. Most days, I have already suffered by the time I get the notification, which is a great feeling. By 8 a.m., I have given my body hell, running three miles directly followed by 150 bicycle crunches. As I improve, the runs will get longer and the number of crunches will grow.
Even if I already feel good about what I have accomplished by 8 in the morning, the day has only just begun. The notification is a good reminder to continue to seek suffering because only through these difficult, challenging tasks can we grow as a human being.
And if that’s not the point, I don’t know what the hell is.