Taking Your Losses

If a tie is like kissing your sister, losing is like kissing you grandmother with her teeth out.
– George Brett

Sucking sucks.

Nobody likes to be bad at things, especially if they’re used to being good at them.

This week I’m going in to the gym to squat, deadlift, and bench for the first time in my life – I’m going to have poor form and I’m going to be using embarrassingly small weights. Sure, I’ll be miles ahead of the people who aren’t in the gym at all, but those people won’t be there to make me feel better (and who can blame them). I’ll be next to the guys who have been doing it for years, and it’ll be painfully obvious that I don’t know what I’m doing.

This week I’m going to an MMA gym to box and wrestle for (almost) the first time in my life – I’m going to fuck up the warmup, fuck up the techniques, and get my ass handed to me in sparring (if I can learn fast enough to even spar with a partner the first week). Sure, at the end of the week I’ll be better than the guys sitting at home wishing they knew how to fight, but that won’t help when I’m slowing down my partners and being the obvious newbie.

It’s painless to be good at things. Showing up and kicking ass is one of the best feelings in the world.

It’s also almost painless to suck at things. “I suck at that” , you can say from the couch, or better yet “I’ve never tried it” (which is the same as “I suck”, but with a built in excuse and the ridiculous hope that maybe you’re a secret prodigy).

What hurts is making the leap from bad to awesome. You have to admit that you’re trying, that you want to be good, but you suck anyway. No excuses, no escape.

Good. Fuck comfort. The pain and embarrassment of trying hard and losing is a signpost telling you you’re on the path to ultimate victory.

If you aren’t failing, you aren’t getting better, and if you aren’t getting better you’re going to die bad.


  1. “MMA gym”

    good times. you want a gym that has you ‘rolling’ (light sparring ground work) ASAP because you can only really learn ground work that way. the biggest physical hurdle will probably be exhaustion from the stand-up (moar cardio) and the biggest mental hurdle will be learning all the pins and holds and other ground work. and if there’s no one there approximately your size (±15 lbs), go ahead and recruit a friend

    1. Happy to hear that, Karl, since that’s exactly what they did. Looking forward to going back – though I do wish I had a partner more my size.

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