I figured I’d start religiously blogging by revealing a bit of myself, so here I am…from the beginning:
When I was younger, I sucked at everything athletic that I ever tried.
For a while, I was reluctant to talk about this, as I feel like it is something all “Fit Pros” SAY as a marketing ploy in order to make prospects feel as though they can relate to them.
I’m not kidding, though. I was horrible. Looking back on it, I wonder if there were moments when my father was flat-out embarrassed by how much of a spaz I was.
I can recall one time, during a little league game, I slid into first base…and missed. Enough said.
Fortunately, any of my athletic shortcomings were overshadowed by my academic abilities. As an adult, I realize this was a blessing, but as a kid, it wasn’t so great for me.
I grew up in Johnston, Rhode Island. A town with a huge Italian population, where being a tough guy was valued more than academic prowess.
I suffered for it.
I was bullied relentlessly. It’s funny to me, because people who didn’t know me back then are often SHOCKED to look at me, see how I carry myself, and know that I was once pummeled and abused. But I was.
I was nerdy and pimply and awkward. I loved books (still do) and loved exploring all aspects of the natural world (still do).
I don’t say this as a sob story. The truth is: I’m so glad if happened. It made me the person that I am today and paved the way for the coach that I am.
I learned to be relentless, because I wasn’t built to be the best, so to even have a shot at being competitive, I had to work.
I learned that I wasn’t hopeless, from a physical standpoint, but that my mentality was timid and shaped by being treated like trash. I lived in fear, and the implications of this mental block laid the foundation for my study of psychology and my pursuit of formal education.
But, perhaps most importantly, I learned the value of being a GOOD PERSON and treating others with respect and dignity. I never lost sight of that nerdy kid who was just looking for someone to be his friend. I see that kid in the mirror every morning.
I once went back in my mind with that little kid. I walked next to him, as a big, strong 210 pound lifter, to return to my childhood and confront those bullies. In that moment, I realized that I didn’t have any hate for them, but rather pity. That’s right…all of those times I was left down in the mud and crying, and it was ME who felt bad for THEM.
Being part of that “macho Italian” scene, they only knew fear: fear of not being a “man” by some bullshit standard. The only knew anger: anger for being insecure and constantly having to prove themselves.
I never had that. My parents loved me for my smarts, my awkwardness, my flaws.
Perhaps this is the reason why I sought to help people. Because I know what it is like to be shunned and abused for your uniqueness against the backdrop of an arbitrary societal standard. Either way, these moments are the keystone of who I am.