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Hands Dirty

I remember back in the day when I was suffering from social anxiety. I was a mess. I would feel so awkward in group environments. Cold beads of sweat would flow down my face as I engaged in the simplest of conversations with group of friends. It was awkward. It was disheartening. And at times, I simply did not know what to do.


But I remember pushing on as well. I remember continuing to go to these social events. Because I felt like the only way to get past it is to go thru it. So, I persevered and continued to socialize to the best of my abilities. And often than not, I would feel absolutely awkward doing it.


I would sweat profusely. I would stutter at times. I would simply feel generally uncomfortable. I didn’t know when to speak up and when to keep my mouth shut. But again, I pushed on. I got my hands dirty. I was in the arena fighting for my survival and fighting for my well-being. Because again, the only way was thru. No other options were available.


These days though, I feel relatively more at ease when it comes to social events. I have a better sense of my own socializing style. And how to fit in during different circumstances. I would pick my spots on when to talk and when to listen. I simply have a better understanding of the situation at hand nowadays. These days, I’d say that I work smart rather than work hard. I try to think more high level. Especially in my workplace environment.


And this has been a tremendous improvement compared to those days when I would simply get my hands dirty and push forth with no better way of knowing what to do. But, sometimes, I yearn for those moments as well. I yearn for the times when I just simply keep my head down and work hard and plow my way thru the pain. I sometimes enjoy it. I enjoy the sweat and determination that is required to work thru discomfort.


Same goes with me and exercise. The older I get, the more content I am to simply do the bare minimum at the gym. To work up a simple sweat and to go home. When I was in my 20’s, I would usually do mountain climbers every day until I would be doused with sweat at home. I would do it until my body and joints ached like there was no tomorrow. I simply grinded for the sake of grinding. I pushed myself to my physical limits, and I enjoyed it to the fullest.


Sometimes, I wonder which method works better. Working smart. Or working hard. Or is it a combination of both? I don’t know. I guess it depends on the circumstance. But I do have respect for my younger self for simply pushing myself thru mental and physical blockages. Thru adversity. Thru challenges. Thru struggles. I admire that in my younger self.


And going forward, I will continue to get my hands dirty. To push forth despite limitations or mental blocks. To push forth despite my concerns about being perfect in my performance. I think there is so much admiration for the athletes and writers that push forward even though they are not 100%. Most of the outside critics don’t know all the personal struggles that they go thru behind the scenes. All they really do is critique from an outsider’s perspective.


It is what it is. I think we all have the capability to push thru in some form or manner. The ability to hack away at a project or at a goal, even in the least optimal circumstances. That is a part of life. No one is going to feel blissed out 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And during those less optimal moments, sometimes the least you can do is take some action despite the circumstances.


I personally don’t like getting interrupted during my writing sessions. But at times, I inevitably will get interrupted. It’s not the ideal condition to be writing in a state of flow, but sometimes I just have to live with it. And push on despite feeling unfocused or agitated. I guess that is a part of life. And it’s just something that you need to deal with acceptance and love.


I think at some point, everyone needs to get their hands dirty in order to truly excel in their professional or personal domains. This goes to the single parents out there trying to make ends meet. The college professor trying to grade hundreds of student materials. The athlete trying to push past their own personal records. The writer trying to create a masterwork. The doctors and nurses literally getting their hands dirty and preparing for a major operation.


Everyone needs that sort of grind to keep them humble. To keep them hungry. Everyone needs a little bit of strain in their lives. Everyone in some form or fashion needs moments when they simply need to put their head down and get to work. Where they have to suck up the pain and the discomfort in the moment and just do it for the sake of doing it. Because no situation is ideal.


Of course, I want to be in a flow state all the time. Of course, I want to work completely uninterrupted. Of course, I want to feel blissed out beyond belief. Any sane individual would want any of that. But, alas, it’s not possible all the time to have such moments. The world does not revolve simply around any of us. Sometimes, we need to struggle. Sometimes, we need to fight and claw our way forward. Sometimes, we need to embrace the grind. Get our hands dirty. And feel that sense of raw satisfaction that comes with it.

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