My Odd Relationship with English

Author: Yugal SehgalOriginally published on March 7, 2021

Two months ago, I joined the gym. For the most part of these last two years, I was a lazy, miserable mess of a man. Don’t get me wrong I was getting things done, but my lifestyle wasn’t very active or adventurous. I didn’t much bother about my health other than doing my bit of staying away from COVID. I worked from my bed, barely left my room, did a fair bit of binge watching and devoured a lot of junk food.

My sleep cycle was so offbeat, I shouldn’t even call it a cycle. It was a jaggy, uneven scribble of a cycle with no fixed time of sleeping and none of waking up either. Sometimes I would sleep around 2 am and sometimes around 6. When I would wake up, it was usually time for lunch. That cannot be good for you, not when you have to function during normal business hours.

Add to that my skinny stature and we’re looking at a full blown negative self-perception issue here. While I have never really been bothered by it, at times I have felt under confident due to my underdeveloped physique. As I’ve grown older I've discovered that a short, skinny stature can sadly affect your professional life in a very peculiar way. Because it makes you look younger than you are and lends you a childlike appearance, your credibility is at times affected by it and you have to work extra hard to demonstrate your prowess. It’s a sad challenge...

It’s surprising how many things have begun to improve with this one change in my life. Joining the gym and having a daily commitment to working out has enabled me to wake up early with not just ease but excitement. Now THAT is something I had rarely experienced before. Having a purpose to wake up for, a daily commitment to something good — something to look forward to — is a huge motivator. And while I can’t say I’m not skinny anymore, I’m beginning to see slight development in my frame and that gives me immense hope and happiness.

Additionally, the extra few hours that I get thanks to waking up early allow me to get more done in one day than I previously could in two. Not to mention I’m finally able to have breakfast, too. That particularly is a wonderful feeling. Perhaps my misery stemmed more from my messed up routine than my lack of fitness, but I guess I needed to change both of those things in order to feel better about myself, which I am now beginning to.

Another curious thing I began to notice as a direct result of working out was the slight asymmetry of my body. The right half of my body has been the dominant half all my life. I brushed with my right hand, held my phone in my right hand, opened doors with my right arm, basically did all kinds of chores with my right arm. I even slouched to my right in bed. All this time I never thought about muscular balance or posture.

A lifetime of that imbalance has left the left half of my body relatively weaker. It’s a little more difficult for me to lift weights with my left arm than my right. Now I have to work extra hard to not just grow it but also build balance.

This has caused me to wonder, how many similar imbalances do we seem to not notice in our lives? We are so set in our ways and tendencies that we don’t really see what’s wrong until we’re challenged in some way — until we experience the discomfort of reality check. But once we move past that discomfort through acceptance, it’s surprising how our body and mind begins to adapt to our new reality, how we begin to become a new, better us. My left bicep seems to agree with that.

(I now employ my left arm in doing everyday chores more often than my right and that itself has been quite a mental reset.)

Whether physical or mental, overtime our imbalances become our weaknesses that we might never become aware of, but even after ages of imbalance, finding balance is still realistically possible if we’re willing to confront our reality and take charge of changing it for good. But don’t expect quick results. If something went bad over a lifetime, it only makes sense for it to become better gradually. Patience and consistency is what will help you get there.

My biggest takeaway from this whole experience has been this: Making one small positive change in your life can lead to a chain of positive changes that you cannot really anticipate. No matter how tiny, one step in the right direction is always better than being stuck. One small feat of taking charge is better than being miserable. And one small attempt towards constructive change is better than complacent acceptance of self. Just take charge and keep at it. That’s really it.

Whether it’s joining the gym for you or something else, if you know you need to change something in your life in order to improve it, go ahead and do it. You’ll be glad you did.

Yugal Sehgal writes about life, mindfulness, and people. He lives in India. Follow him and @drawcuments on Instagram.