Life is often likened to a race—a marathon—where pacing yourself is necessary to last the whole stretch. We run with an end goal in mind, the finish line being our inspiration to cover the distance ahead of us in a finite amount of time. We start running and we do not stop—not looking back, in the hopes that the past which we have left behind does not reach out to grab us and pull us farther away from the distance we have yet to make.
Here is the thing though—I find that it is easier to realize you are getting tired when you run. Personally, without a good playlist to get my mind off the fact that I am running out of breath, I find it nearly impossible to go for a run anywhere.
Boxing is an entirely different experience, however, which is why I am more inclined to comparing it to life. It is so invigorating that it is hard to realize you are tired. And besides the threat of being hit in the face if you let up, the pure enjoyment of throwing a few good punches (c’mon don’t lie) is enough reason for your mind to scream “Stay in it” and for your body to actually follow. That being said, I find that the constant movement, the crucial focus, and the steel mindset encompassed by the sport can be applied in real life, and that learning to do so does nothing but give us the upper hand.
I remember the first time my dad took me to this stripped down, hole-in-the-wall gym. It was open-air at the top of some building, with no lockers and no calming essential oils diffuser by the reception area. As I looked around to observe, I knew that in that place, I was going to learn things that I would probably not have learned otherwise.
My dad always taught me to respect people who know their way around the streets. Day in and day out, they go about their lives, undaunted by the struggle which is one of life’s natural elements. He always said that learning how to have the same attitude about life as those people did would build my character, making me strong enough to deal with whatever harsh reality came my way.
That is why I embraced the culture of the place. Dante, the head coach, was strict. If I was late, he punished me with burpees. When I was tired, he made me go one more round. And with my dad’s permission, he taught me how to take a hit. Literally. In the face. And though it was not a pleasant experience, I found myself handling life’s hits differently.
The perseverance I learned began to shape the way I saw things. The struggle is constant. Sometimes, life comes at you, and it is just one challenge after the other. And though at times it feels unfair, when you constantly dig down deep and find the drive to go another round, you make it through round after round until you win the whole fight. And it makes every hit that you have taken worth it.
The struggle is real, but so are the time-outs. As someone who has gotten so used to working that I find it hard to rest at times, I had to learn to maximize the breaks I got between rounds by actually catching my breath. “Rest is part of the program,” my mom tells me a lot. If life were all fight and no rest, we would not make it very far. Taking time to catch your breath makes one a better fighter. The reset we undergo whenever we step back and give ourselves some room helps us live better.
Getting hit is inevitable—both in a boxing match and in life. So if we are going to get hit, we might as well learn how to roll with the punches. In boxing, when you move your body in the same direction a blow is going, you lessen the impact of the blow. It is the same thing with life.
When things go wrong, resisting and denying gets you absolutely nowhere. It makes more sense to acknowledge the circumstances and work from there. It saves time to adapt and look for solutions instead of complaining. And sometimes, just taking the hits and not falling down gets us to the next round.
We start fighting the day we’re born. And somewhere between the first and the last bell ring, we have to figure out why we were put in the fight. Though everyone has a different answer, the struggle is common to all. Sadly, not everyone lasts the whole fight. Losing hope to dream and live another day, they succumb to the mundane cycle of a passive life void of purpose.
But the ones who fight to hope; the ones who strain their eyes, looking for that light at the end of the tunnel; the ones who are resilient enough to adapt to struggle and find the strength and motivation to go another round; the ones who rest to get stronger and fight to win instead of just to survive—they are the ones who make it. They are the ones who emerge victorious. They are the champions.