The Struggle is Real

Even before the onset of COVID-19 and shut-downs, isolation, and uncertainty, we have all often heard (and used) the phrase “The struggle is real!” It is a cute hashtag, a camaraderie builder, and even an excuse. But what does it really mean, and what is it really about? Food
choices? Relationship problems? Going to work each day for a job you don’t love? Or feeling unable to have tangible goals in the gym with an inconsistent schedule? Often, then, after lamenting the “struggle,” comes the question of “How do I overcome the uncomfortable?”


I was recently re-reading my old blog, and I was reminded of the many times our dog Misty has helped me answer that question. I take Misty jogging if the weather isn’t too hot, and she loves the opportunity to smell the smells and earn a hard nap. I’ve never been one to really enjoy running, but I push myself to go a couple of times a week for the challenge, as well as the physical (and mental) growth. Having Misty along gives me a partner, and more importantly, someone else to focus on during something that doesn’t excite me.


One April morning Misty and I went for a run. On this particular day, the struggle really WAS real. I didn’t want to go, but she clearly did. I would have been quite content going for a (much preferred) walk, listening to the birds and looking for the first signs of Spring. But alas, she was pulling on her leash, making it clear we were going to jog. We got onto our 3 mile out-and-back course, with me trying to figure out how I would get through this without being annoyed at myself, the process, and at Misty. However, the more I watched Misty, and the more I coached her through the run, I came to realize I had made a decision to be led. I followed her up the hills because I really had no choice—I could have walked, but I would have slowed down HER
progress (and her excitement), and I would have been annoyed at myself for getting in her (and my own) way. And because of that decision, I ultimately served myself better, so that the rest of
my day—in my roles as a parent, a wife, a friend, a business owner—went more smoothly. In that decision, I put aside my “know better” and my plans, and I let someone else guide me to a better end result.


This run, this lesson, was less about being in charge and was more about being a follower. I recognized that sometimes we have to lean on others, trust in their guidance, and listen to their nudges that get us through “the suck.” Whether it is fitness, work, love, or just life, your
foundation of strength comes from within. However, the supporting structures—those things and people that make your foundation strong even on days it feels rocky—are important too. Big things can be achieved by accepting help when it is offered… and allowing others to give you their strength is not only a gift to you, but to them as well.


During this time when we might default to “The struggle is real!” even more than ever, are YOU willing to rely on others? Where can you become better in putting aside your “use-to-could” and be coachable, both in the gym and in life? In what ways can you put aside expectations, and instead, follow someone else’s lead for a better end result?


Uncertain times don’t make the struggle any more real than it has ever been. Instead, uncertain times offer us each an opportunity to give ourselves grace to re-learn what we think we know, grow stronger in areas we didn’t know we need to grow, and to lean on each other for those days when we don’t know where we can grow, how we can do better, or what lesson we can learn.

~Coach Meg Smith

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