Still loses like a jock

All this self-reflection is cool and all. I remember being told that one must take the good with the bad. That phrase is much easier said than done. The hard part is the application of behavior after said reflection has happened. 

As long as I can remember, I have had (and continue to have) sore loser tendencies. Not the most attractive quality in any way, shape, or form. The monster still remains. One silver lining is I now am able to keep my mouth shut and remove myself from a situation when things get too hot for me to handle. This has taken many years to do and is not easy to this day. I’m at this point where I make an effort to catch the jock settings before I am exposed to it in hopes to be aware enough that when the hypercritical, egotistical side comes, I can check myself (inside and out) and do something about it. Right now all I can do is remove myself from the environment. No sense in finding another punching bag who has no idea what they’re in for.

Playing the vain-blame-game is an all time low move, no matter the circumstance. Stewing in this can lead to a lull in progress. I have stewed for years at a time, trust me, this sucks and there is no way to put a positive spin on the matter. Self improvement is not gradual steps in the right direction. It is a jagged path that may have a few quick steps forward, but can be just as easily be met with a step or two in the opposite direction. It is finding some type of comfort when dealing with this, despite the planning that was involved, the data that was recorded, the emotional investments made, that what separate the childish jocks from the more normal human beings with more control over their emotions. Some can flesh out the cause and effect in a polite and effective way. Others have to find a quiet space to be alone with their thoughts and vent in whichever way they feel is necessary (can you guess who has to do the latter of the two?)

But hey, gotta take the bad with the good right? Me “taking” the bad manifests itself through isolation. That seems to work for me so I’m going to stick with that right now. I am completely comfortable with not saying anything when I do not have nice things to say. From there, things will build up depending on the situation, but usually pass with time. A conflict lies when your analytical train of thought is running on all cylinders to prevent this moment of embarrassment from happening again, while your physical and more emotional sides are moving at a glacial pace to reset for the next encounter. Cue anxiety, cue impatience, cue anger, then tie it all together at the end with self loathing. This has been my life for as long as I can remember and remains to be that way.

The good news is self-awareness is how I am able to begin to keep things in check. A balance of all these emotions is paramount when the going gets tough. I sincerely admire how women are able to be cheerleaders for one another and keep the environment (in this case, we are discussing competitive cycling) from reaching that toxic but fragile state. I am taking a lot of mental notes now that there has been an increase of female presence at bike races. I am cheering for you cheering on your peers and fellow cyclists. With that being said, fragile masculinity is a tricky thing to navigate. Here’s me continuing to take these small steps forward despite going through the same pitfalls I always seem to find myself (while keeping the trite, inspirational speech to a minimum.)

until next time….

Cyclisociopath

Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, but gets the point across. I digress, it is confession time:

Having One’s upbringing stem from the roots of jock culture, an individual can choose to go one of two ways. They can remain willfully ignorant to the toxicity they have contributed and will continue to do so, or reality can eventually set in and the person must then deal with the effects of their actions in their own way. Part of my upbringing was spent amongst the culture of the jocks. Not right away, but when it did, I went for it. 

This isn’t a typical jock story, more fitting for an athletic outcast such as a cyclist. This first manifested itself through high school wrestling. A sport which will always hold a deep place in my identity. Most jocks are born into this type of culture, similar to those who are born into wealth or some social privileges other may not. When someone starts out on top, one of their key roles is to keep things that way. For the rest of us who rely on opportunities that come and go with life, we have to try harder to make a name for ourselves in order to achieve this status. Riding bikes started off easy enough in the beginning. I got to a certain level of fitness and ability, then became esteemed in a way that would end up doing more harm than good. 

The hypercritical, detail oriented, exaggerated standards of masculinity are harmful to all parties not involved in this acidic environment (we’re talking pretty low on the pH scale) which count for a majority. Often times it is not until irreversible damage has been done that the initiator realizes the harm they have done. I am of course speaking of personal experience that I am not all too proud of. 

Holding someone else to an inflated standard (big point: that does not wish to be held to said standard) ruins relationships, intimate or not. Those occasional, What you should do’s, are a vain approach to bettering someone’s experience. Consider consent. Pay attention and really ask yourself does this person want to hear what I have to say. Not saying this will be easy by any stretch. 

I’ve been bullied, and bullied back. It is never a long term rewarding feeling. I am now a more quiet person because of it. I know people who have a lasting impression of my character because of previous behaviors. I have to exclude myself from conversations 

  1. I cannot accept a sincere compliment, making it challaenging for me to  reciprocate. 
  2. I have jaded views that are not supportive of the world / lifestyle I choose to be a part of.

I prefer to keep an arms length in these types of social settings nowadays. Seems safer for both parties and help the coping process. There are steps being taken to accept and move on from these behaviors. I will admit that once a certain level of fatigue hits, the all too familiar feeling presents itself. This moody type of person we all can be shows true character. The point of this is to admit that I have begun to see within myself and my own character, and I do not like what is on the other end. 

For now I will continue to keep my views to myself unless asked about them, and work through whatever it is I need to work through. Maybe one day we (myself included) can become better cheerleaders for one another instead of needed to keep others at a similar level of progress and ability as that of ourselves. It may have taken a few years, but letting this go for a male amongst male peers is unnecessarily difficult. No, I’m not all that interested in racing bikes right now. No, I don’t know if and when I’ll race again. No, I don’t know what I’m doing with / or want to do with my life. Pushing these types of questions and concerns is synonymous to someone sharing a plan, only to have someone else dictate how that person will follow through with said plan without their sincere consent. 

All this to say that I come from a jock culture. I’m not too proud of that part of my past. I hope this behavior can eventually be ruled out of existence, but hey, one day at a time. Jock culture is sociopathic and while there is comfort in that ability to disconnect, it does not end well. Here’s to finding new social ground in the world of two wheels. 

Until next time….

Support your local group ride

Only if you want to.

With daylight saving coming and going (and who could forget Pi day which I had reluctantly forgotten) so begins the season of spring / summertime bike racing. But more importantly, group riding. If you have been lucky enough to hear me wax poetic about this topic, you know it holds a special place in my heart, legs, and gag reflex. I owe a tremendous amount of personal success to group rides. My current circle of friends and physical fitness are both rooted in group riding.

Group riding provides a safe space for everyone to not only become familiar with one another, but reduce the pressures of competitive, formal bike racing. While there is an unwritten code of ethics and etiquette when discussing the topic, once executed successfully, the benefits are tremendous. 

Some of you may have guessed that yesterday marked the start to a local group ride out here in the 818. There were many people who showed up for the maiden voyage. Most admitted they have been thinking about this day since last week. Some to regain their fitness they once had, others to catch up with others whom they do not regularly see. For me, it’s a bit of both. Also to see new faces and to take note of any physical or mental growth. 

What better place for people of different collars and creeds to get together and co exists for one common goal? It’s a stretch, but it’s one step towards a utopian world. I cannot say enough good things about weekly group riding. Some weeks go better than others. I would be lying if on occasion fatigue sets in, poor decisions are made, and tempers flare as a result. 

With that being said, last night we all met up at the local university, caught up on life, rode bikes, and parted ways on a good note. This may come off as vague and boring, but one much experience it to grasp the weight of the environment. I deeply enjoy group riding and enjoy my current fitness level along with the time of year. What an exciting time to be alive. 

Until next time…. 

Memorable Moments

2017: The Year of getting your (my) life together. Not that things were catastrophically wrong and needed order to begin with. Between beginning to ride competitively again, weight loss, and crawling out of the hole that is financial debt, I feel as though life is beginning to regain it’s order.

All of the above mentioned actions have grown the seed in my head that believes that a more memorable existance is achieved with a healthy relationship with fatigue. Some might be able to see where this is going. For those who need a little more explanation, please allow me to share my point of view.

Let us imagine a trip, whether it is a cross country vacation, a honeymoon, or an escape to an isolated destination to a local park. Everything has been prepared, there are no significant delays, many pictures are taken, you as a result feel that this trip has enriched your life in one way, shape or form. To that I agree. Here lies the twist. Even though this trip went for all theoretical accounts according to plan, there still remains this increased effort to retain all of the positive things that have happened. We might have albums with many photos to capture the memories of time well spent. Others might precede to write things down in a journal, or phone a friend to share all that happened as best as we can remember. Some may go a step beyond all that and paint a mural, direct a film, or support a cause of their choosing. All (and while it is by no means the sole reason for asking so) to recall all the events that have taken place.

Now imagine if things did not go according to plan. Your luggage gets lost, there are travel delays, you lose your wallet or lose your way home. Sure you might manage to jot a few things down or get a photo from when things go from bad to worse. It is my belief that you require less mental assistance when it comes to recalling memories of less successful events. Ever ask someone about a thing they did that didnt go so well? Ever notice how they are able to recall more details from memory then pulling out the phone to jog other positive thoughts?

Full disclaimer: I do not want my point to be exaggerated and made to believe that I wish everyone I know lose their stuff and their minds all for the sake of memory. I believe that there is a balance that can be kept in which we are able to have a more memorable experience.

Call it fatigue, stress, or grit. The term you use does not matter. The act of enduring outside your comfort zone no matter how it manifests itself allows us to mentally and physically capture the experience in a more effective way than others. What you choose to do with these memories is up to you. I understand that there are hundreds of thousands or atrocities that go on on a day to day basis and that the best course of action is to do our best to forget some memories of when times were tough. Forgetting may be more difficult to do as a result. To put a positive spin on things, lets think of when this can be used to benefit us.

Hard work is hard for a reason. While I have no idea why that is the case, the fact remains that in order to do something with increased difficulty, there is a more likely chance that stress will come as a result in one shape or another. I am under the impression that this type of stress keeps us sharp. It can be useful, however too much of anything can be negative towards our well being. We all have different ways in which we benefit the most from stress. Some have different tolerances and those need to be acknowledged and respected by others. There is an ebb and flow that comes with enduring stress. In certain environments it is used as a tool, while in others, it is a pest that needs to be eliminated from our headspace.

All to say I am projecting my own experience in an effort to justify its normality. Most of what I do involves me being a degree of separation from a level of comfort. Call it sadistic, but I have recognized that this can be used to achieve some beneficial and memorable existance. I am not expecting everyone to agree with what I am saying. Perhaps consider the thought the next time you find yourself in a sticky situation. Be mindful of how well you (or someone you know) is able to recal recent events that ended on a sour note, or encountering an obstacle along the way. What better time to share this than on a gloomy Sunday morning right? With all that being said….

Until next time

Conflicting Conversations

The transfer of thoughts and ideas. Simple enough right? People have many options when it comes to how they want to get an idea to one another. Once all is said and done, mission accomplished. Right? Say what you need to say, then the exchange begins.

I’m not here to explain something we all are aware of and know how to do. My concern is the flow in which this process takes place. For anyone who has stayed two weeks in in a biology class, the term fluid mosaic shohuld jog some familiar thoughts. Organelles moving in unison with one another, working together, performing separate tasks for the greater good. If it is good enough for the human body, it’s good enough for myself.

My concern is, if a model such as the human body works so well as a majority ( I am aware there are many flaws, but given the phisiology, we as humans work pretty well) why cannot we apply these principles to other aspects of human life? Why can’t conversations work in this same way? I was in a work meeting not too long ago and the clash of speech was discomforting to say the least. I canno’t grasp how speaking over others is an effective form of communication. As someone who communicates best by thinking before I speak, I get cut off in conversations almost every day. Trying to be the patient change I wish to see, I cannot help but point out this to other people. The strange thing is people seem to have little to no sense that they are doing this.

How can you sleep at night knowing that you as a person are getting through to someone when they haven’t finished speaking? I understand that there is a limited ability to do more than one task at a time. This doesn’t hold up in the long run. This clash makes me want to shut off immediately. I know we all get wrapped up in thoughts and feel that we need to say right away or else we will lose the resale value on our homes, get points knocked off of our credit score, or heaven forbid, forget. Please, from someone who functions best in a less vocal, fluid way, please be considerate of the way you communicate is affecting others.

Until next time,

My Existance is: Piecing itself together

Rich, fruitful, questionable, futile? I haven’t the slightest idea.  I want to try and make some sense of my impact on this planet

Today my existance is piecing itself together. Realizing the benefits order can have to One’s own life experience. Some requires more than others. I personally fall under the category of requiring an increased amount of order to have comfort in my own skin. The feeling of control is an intoxicating and empowering emotion. At the same time, once order has been established if there is something that brings us bliss (I.e: bikes) the balance of order and the raw, blank canvas that is riding bikes justifies existance if only momentarily.

A lot of philosophical talk about the perks of having a clear head (clear of distractions) and an able body. A lot of changes are going on both upstairs and on a more visceral level. World views are being defined. Personal goals are being set based on their impact on the psyche. This vulnerability is having effects on those around me. Some for better, some for worse.

My existance at this point in time is answering the big questions like, “What do you want to do with your life? What is important to you? What are you willing to take a stand for?”

Up until recently, I have not had a clear idea of answers to these questions. Both time and other’s experiences have begun to carve out a refined path. Glossing over some of the finer details, things are beginning to improve. The best part is there is tangible feedback. Getting this behavior in order has done great things for my mental well being.

When the order is in the proper place, some of us (myself) prosper. 

A March with Anxiety

Woke up sore today. Not sure if it was from the late night, bumping elbows with thousands of people in Los Angeles, or the aftermath of experiencing my first anxiety attack.

I would like to think that I have a higher tolerance for stress. Between riding bikes, the nature of my job answering phones and multi-tasking, I keep a level head through most of the day in and day out. That being said, it has become very clear that we all have our tipping points. I hit mine on Saturday. What seemed like a good idea to be among others who were upset by the recent election results (the same demographic that represents the majority of people who voted for our current president based on gender and race, but that is an unpopular opinion for another day) slowly backfired. I have had a similar experience about five years ago when I attended the Halloween costume party held on Santa Monica blvd in West Hollywood. Being in close proximity to that many people is bad for introverts. I did not have the same reaction as I did this weekend, but it felt similar.

There is an insightful video in which an average man goes into an oxygen deprivation room to understand what fighter pilots must go through in order to determine their hypoxic  tolerance. This is the closest thing I can come to as far as a comparative explanation. Now I didn’t turn blue or lost the ability to recognize and say my name, but I slowly felt the need to escape from a confined space to no avail or reprieve. There was without a doubt an overwhelming amount of people in the streets of downtown Los Angeles. Buses were saturated. Streets were  saturated with people. My emotional tolerance was also saturated.

As a result, I am left conflicted as to whether in my personal experience, this march was worth the levels of stress I encountered. In retrospect, I can sympathize with ‘why’ this event took place. People are shocked and upset that the majority of our country’s population voted a president in office who is able to do serious harm to the people they are chosen to represent. People got together to let off some steam, and encourage others to continue to be good people. I get it; sort of. Despite the popularity and the underlying reasons to why this march became so popular, I was forced to deal with a severe case of anxiety that I have never experienced. I know most people I know and am friends with were there and spirits were raised (if only temporarily) but other than being physically held in a time of need, I am having trouble seeing the positives, if this was the result.

I now know big groups are not my thing. In attempting to rationalize what had happened, I recalled what other setting could resemble something like a big group of people occupying a space. Nightclubs? Not for me for this exact reason. Bike races? Yes, but there is no more than 100 to maybe 200 people at a bike race in southern California. Hospitals? Hospitals can become crowded, but there are opportunities to escape when the mood gets tense. I was stuck on Saturday with no escape and had to deal. I had a good cry and am glad it was through this way and not through a syncopal episode where I would have needed a medical escort from one dense space to another. Next time, I’ll try and anticipate what I am getting myself into the next time I think an event like this is beneficial for a hermit like myself.

until next time….