I have to admit, I have been a little preoccupied this week. As some of you may know, I am in the process of trying to become a police officer. I scored fairly well on the written exam, and have slowly moved up the list. I am now scheduled for physical and agility testing this Saturday, and I find myself pretty nervous.
It is not so much that I am fearful of failing the physical agility requirements, but more so the realization that this life changing decision may actually come to fruition. In terms of the test requirements, I am expected to perform the following on my first attempt. Failure to do so will result in immediate dismissal.
- 35 bent knee sit ups, full range of motion, in 60 seconds.
- 18 inch vertical leap
- 1RM at 80% of my bodyweight
- 300 meter sprint in 65 seconds
- 1.5 mile run in 14:45
I have practiced each component and successfully completed them. As I write this I am actually recovering from a test 1.5 mile run which I finished in eleven minutes! If all goes as planned this weekend, I will move on to the background portion of the employment process. If I manage to convince everybody that I am mentally stable and capable of the responsibility, I will hopefully enter the academy this summer.
Not even considering the emotions surrounding a new career, especially one of this magnitude, all I can really think about is “how did I get here?” I’m sure there are very few people who can say that their lives played out exactly as they imagined it would. I’m not here to talk about what could have been or how much better off I would be if I had taken a different path. That’s not what I mean. By questioning how I got here, I am essentially asking, “how did I become who I am?”
I said in an earlier article that children live what they learn and learn what they live. I refuse to accept that I am merely the product of my environment or chance life circumstances. At thirty years old, I sometimes feel that I don’t even know who I am, or I have not yet fully formed into who I am supposed to be. I know with the utmost certainty that I am not who I once was. Am I to continuously change, never being the same person for more than a few years at a time?
I initially went to school as a business major with the plan to be an attorney. I was forced to change my major when I was at risk of getting a D in Economics, which was as good as an F for a course required for your major. I then switched to Criminal Justice so I could keep the credit for the D in Economics. In my opinion, that single move closed many doors for me. I did well in Criminal Justice and moved on to become a private investigator, not because I wanted to, but because it was the only thing I could find.
Convincing myself that was who I was, I continued on that path, became licensed in the state of Illinois, and started my own company. The company didn’t have much success due to a non-compete agreement I had with my employer and the demands of an already full-time job. I also did not enjoy having my own company. What I came to realize with many of my clients was that they did not need an investigator, they just wanted someone to talk to. I abandoned the company pretty quickly and chose to remain with my employer.
Family man became my next order of business. Typically not one to take things very slowly, I grew my family very quickly, ending up with four children by the time I was 27. Of all I have experienced and tried in life, I would have to say that having kids has been the most enjoyable. No regrets there. At the very least I can say I have been the best father I can be and will continue to work at bettering myself in that regard every day. My kids have been instrumental in forming who I am, or at least bringing out my ‘sensitive’ side. Never did I think I would listen to Justin Bieber, read his books, and watch his movies – but I do. Never did I see myself talking in baby cute voices to infants and toddlers – but I do. I would have said you were an idiot if you told me my vocabulary would contain words like cuties, tooties, poopies, naughties, and any other word you can add ‘ies’ to.
But still the question remained – who am I? My kids became my world, but it wasn’t long before I again started searching for more. It wasn’t until I found the iron that I felt I had actually found an answer to that question. Something changed in me when fitness became a priority, and I strongly believe I am now on the track to completing who I am meant to be.
I was never popular as a kid. I was picked on and bullied daily. I was even ridiculed by teachers all the way through sixth grade. I never had many friends and the friends I did have were the ‘social outcasts.’ As I grew up I developed very low self-esteem and self-worth. I have a history of being very open and trusting of others, a trait that almost always had led to me being taken advantage of. Once I discovered the world of fitness, I was all of a sudden part of an elite group of like-minded individuals. Everybody seemed to be so supportive of each other and I felt could be myself without fear of ridicule, abuse, or rejection.
As I became more and more involved in the fitness world, I grew from a fitness enthusiast, to a weight lifter, to a bodybuilder, to a pro bodybuilder. All the while there was a steady increase in my confidence and self-esteem, allowing the real me to show. I attribute the discovery of the ‘real me’ to the dedication and discipline required in the realm of competitive bodybuilding. As I have said before, bodybuilding has practical applications to every aspect of everyday life. It is not just a hobby, but a lifestyle and a life-long commitment. I know for a fact that bodybuilding has shaped who I am, or at least provided the opportunity for the real me to show.
I highly doubt I would even be considering a career in law enforcement if it weren’t for the valuable life lessons I learned from fitness. Life lessons have obviously come from elsewhere, but the strength, courage, confidence, and determination to succeed are all the product of my commitment to my passion.
My real problem in my path of discovery is that I am impatient. I want all of the answers now, and sometimes I get a little ahead of myself, trying to force something that needs more time to bloom. I admit, I get a little carried away at times. Using the excuse that I am just living out who I am meant to be, I sometimes neglect other more important ‘real world’ aspects of my life. I sometimes fail to see the big picture, and in the pursuit to make a name for myself I put my other responsibilities on the back burner. I am guilty of neglecting friends and family at times. I have altered important plans around my fitness plans. I have ruined special events and date nights with my wife over fitness concerns. This does not make me hardcore, it makes me a jerk.
It was a real eye opener for me to realize that the one thing I attribute to creating the real me, is also the same thing that causes me to be completely void of concern for those around me. Could it be that my new-found self-esteem and confidence has turned into arrogance? It is never my intention to act in such a way, but I know I do. They say that success is a hard thing for many to accept. I am no celebrity by any means, and my ‘success’ is modest, but the attention I do receive is a lot different from the attention I used to receive. A lesson or two in humility, with frequent touch ups, definitely goes a long way with me.
The more I think about this, the more I realize that in the pursuit to determine who I really am, the more I am slowly becoming the person I don’t want to be. Be careful what you wish for, they say. I am beginning to see a lot more truth to this than I first realized. I have all I need, even though I sometimes have a hard time seeing it. What I really need is balance.
Wish me luck!
This article was researched and written by Follow @JAstorina
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