Okay, so we all have self improvement stories, right?
They’re a dime a dozen. You can’t find a successful person doing anything online without some huge, overblown story about how they used to be the complete opposite and then changed their tune “so quickly!”
I’ll be honest. So many of the people I know in the fitness industry are just like that. They’re people that either lost or gained a ton of weight. They’re people who got huge boosts of self confidence and took charge of their lives.
Of course, some people aren’t like that. There’s people who have just been at fitness their entire lives and don’t know anything else. They’re natural jocks, through and through.
Here’s my truth: I almost committed suicide when I was 16.
I’ve dealt with anxiety my entire life. I used to have a lot of weird quirks and habits. I was afraid of telephones and people sitting behind desks. I hated conflict and went out of my way to avoid arguments. I was afraid to apply for jobs. I couldn’t sleep at night, and I could barely stay awake during the day. My grades suffered. I liked a girl who didn’t like me back. I was afraid of everything.
Over the years I’ve learned to manage my anxiety. It never goes away, but it’s something that I can at least keep low on a day to day basis. Learning how to manage my anxiety has been a long process. Sometimes I still have high days and low days. Sometimes I still lay awake at night, unable to sleep while my brain ties itself in knots.
At the time, I was depressed. My depression had been ongoing for a long time by that point, but it got worse, the worst it had ever been. My anxiety, poor sleep, and other ongoing social issues were all colliding. For days, I would sort of do everything in a haze - to me, depression didn’t feel bad so much as I felt numb, all my senses dulled, unable to feel anything when I desperately wanted to just be able to get angry and break something.
Here’s what happened. I opened up my bedroom window, on the second floor of my parents’ house in suburban Michigan. I sat on the windowsill and debated jumping out, aiming to land neck first. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to get it over with. But something was holding me back. I debated. I thought about it. A long time passed. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to. I convinced myself that there must still be reasons to keep living.
Eventually I decided to take it out of my hands. I found a quarter in my room and decided to flip it. I told myself that if I got the wrong flip, I’d jump, and if I got the right one, I’d never look back.
I’m here today because of that coin flip. That coin flip changed everything for me.
That day I printed off articles about depression and left them on my mom’s bed with a note on top - “Mom, we should talk.”
We found a therapist. I started listening to calming music at night. I started lifting weights. I started playing World of Warcraft seriously. (Top 10 in my server Horde Blood Elf Hunter, thanks.) My sleep improved. I started putting more effort into my school work. I got into philosophy. I became an entirely different person.
For me, self-improvement is the reason why I never looked back. I flipped that coin, and decided that I would do my best with the life I have. Everything has changed so drastically since then - I’ve gained 60 pounds, learned two more languages, travelled the world, developed my own online business, worked with the best and the brightest in the fitness and video games industries. I’ve started making video games and learning to code. I’ve written multiple novels (although to be fair, I haven’t tried publishing them yet). I’ve moved to Denmark and gotten an awesome cat. I’ve got an awesome girlfriend and I’ve got friends and clients all over the world. I’ve deadlifted 550lbs. 16 year old Adam would be astounded to see what current Adam looks like.
I won’t bullshit you. It’s not like any of this has been easy. I’ve got more than many, and I’m more privileged than many. I’ve had a lot of luck to pave my way, but I’ve also put in a lot of hard work. It’s been a constant process. Sometimes I get frustrated feeling like I should be further along. Sometimes I look back and am shocked to see how far I’ve come.
Sometimes I feel like I got into the game a bit late - after all, some fitness pros have been lifting and playing sports for their entire lives, but I don't have any of that background. I don't like or follow any team sports. I didn't know that I wanted to be a fitness professional until I was 22, and my training was absolute piss poor before then. In many ways, I'm playing catch-up after (what feels like) a wasted first 16 years.
Self-improvement has been a decade long process. I’m not perfect, I’ve made lots of mistakes. But - I’m a way better person than I was ten or fifteen years ago.
There's no shame in dealing with mental illness. Lots of us deal with it to some extent. So why not be honest about it? Why not be open about it? Let's discuss it.
That’s my journey. We all have our stories. What’s yours?
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