Different Pursuits

It is so easy to judge people and minimize their accomplishments when those accomplishments are different than the ones we pursue. I have looked upon people who are incredibly fit and had a knee-jerk, judgment that they must be dumb or they are wasting their time at the gym. But why do I feel this way? I looked down upon “jocks” when I was in high school because I thought my intellect made me their superior, but classes came easily to me and my spare time was spent playing Star Trek: The Customizable Card Game and eating pizza, while they were putting in hours at the gym, eating healthy food, and likely studying more for class than I ever did. I was an asshole in high school (and, unfortunately, I still am a subconscious asshole from time to time). Getting up every day for years and working out is incredibly mentally tough. Training the body, whether it is for sport or maximizing human potential is an intellectual pursuit that most people can’t handle, I know I sure can’t.

And then, when people show off the abs that they have worked for and sacrificed for they have done there is a twinge of both jealousy and disgust. But would I feel this way if an artist friend showed off their latest painting or if an author advertised a newly completed book that spent years of daily work to accomplish? No, I probably wouldn’t. But for some reason, certain categories of hard work are judged harshly. When I really break it down, every person on this planet is working to do the best they can with the genetics and social status that they were given.

Should my college degree be praised, even though it came easy? Is it hard work and perseverance that we celebrate and, inversely, laziness and sloth that we shun? Or do we simply celebrate those that choose a path that we can relate to instead of putting ourselves in the shoes of others and recognizing when someone has the dedication to a pursuit that they love, that waking up at 6:00am and doing the work that needs to be done (whether that is going for a run, yoga, writing a novel, building a business, studying philosophy, or raising children) is mentally hard.

We all face struggles and we could all use a little more support, and I think it would benefit us all to realize that each person is human and many of the rewards being reaped came from hard work. Whether it is rock hard abs, mastery over a musical instrument, or the creation of a million dollar app. Yes, privilege and genetics and social norms play a part, but so does bunkering down and just doing what needs to be done, and instead of glaring at people who direct their energy in ways we don’t understand we should be rejoicing in the diversity of minds out there. You never know when a bodybuilder or an artist or an entrepreneur is going to inspire a revolution in some other field. Life and knowledge is intertwined, and the best thing we can do is take the gifts we have and pursue what we love.

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