“You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.”

-JAMES A. FROUDE

Not many times in a course of one’s lifetime can a person point to one defining moment that changed their lives. We find such moments, such rites of passage in myth, sagas, superhero stories maybe. Now, i’m not saying that I’m some kind of superhero, but I can definitely tell you about my defining moment.

I remember it as vividly as if it was yesterday: on a snowy slope, a snowboard strapped to my feet. Tears streaming down my cheeks, fogging up my goggles with a thin layer of pure misery. My quads were on fire, my lungs felt like they were about to explode, and in the distance I could hear my then-boyfriend screaming at me to suck it up and keep going, but I didn’t even try. It was easy to sink into self pity and misery, easy to think only about the extreme physical discomfort I was feeling in that moment, which I did.

“Sometimes really caring for someone means telling them the truth, especially when that truth is the complete opposite of what you want to hear.”

The sad truth was, that this wasn’t the first time it had happened. This wasn’t the first time I had ruined everyone’s day by being the slow, weak one of the pack, huffing and puffing and struggling to keep up. It then dawned upon me: I was not in control. I was far from it, operating at the lowest level of excuses, self pity and the notion that this was what I’m capable of. After all, I had always had low upper body strength and shitty cardio, why would it change now? I was trying to do all the cool things that I was drawn to: motorcycles, snowboard, hiking… But my movements came out weak, lacking intention, drive and confidence.

My boyfriend’s words rang in my ears: “this is the last time this happens, if you can’t get it together next time, we’re selling your gear, and you’ll just have to admit that snowboarding is not for you”. Harsh, but necessary. Sometimes really caring for someone means telling them the truth, especially when that truth is the complete opposite of what you want to hear. I was lucky I had someone like this by my side at that moment, it wasn’t nice, but it was exactly what I needed to hear.

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”

– DOSTOYEVSKY

I knew, that if I would accept this defeat, it would be a beginning of a slippery slope, leading to a mediocre, passive existence. There was something inside of me that wouldn’t have it.

Looking back, I can only say that strength becomes real when you decide to act in the face of extreme discomfort, oh and it was extreme. Evolve or die, right?

The next year I began to train. Was there a reason I have always been weak? Yes! I have never lifted weights. Was there a reason my cardio sucked? Yes, I never trained. Easy logic. With every rep I forced my body to do, it was my mind that became stronger, I was beginning to understand my mind could drive the change in my body, as my body became stronger, it, in turn, reinforced my will. I was no longer a victim of the pain, of the fire in my muscles and in my lungs, I was going willingly through that fire, I owned that pain.

It was a small victory the next winter, as I strapped the board to my feet again. I was terrified I was not going to make it, the pain of the past failures carved in my memory. I stood up, leaned into the slope and made it all the way down. At the end of that week my butt was black and blue from the falls, and my thighs were showing me new worlds of muscle soreness. But I knew that I made it, I have conquered that little piece of success. All I needed is a change of perception, a change of mind.

“Humans are badass, it’s only our current state of mind that stops us from achieving this badassery.”

Sometimes we don’t realize that what we consider to be superhuman feats of strength, are actually very human things to do. Humans are badass, it’s only our current state of mind that stops us from achieving this badassery. 

As of that 20-something girl that was crying on the slopes in a pitiful display of weakness in front of her disappointed boyfriend? I’m keeping her as reminder, to have something to run away from while I strive towards bigger and better things. And the boyfriend? Well, now he’s my husband, and he’s no longer disappointed.

Bella Litinetski Grünberg 

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