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A victor or a victim? (Rocky Balboa, 2006)

“But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!” - Rocky Balboa

The last time I had seen a Rocky Balboa film was when I was hospitalised with a viral infection that plagued me with a high fever and a searing headache. With a renewed heart, mind, and spirit to go all out for my goals, I was prepping to kickstart a new athletic season when I found out that I had torn my meniscus pretty badly days prior and that I required surgery. I was frustrated by the sudden onslaught of these setbacks that were getting in the way of me working hard towards my goals. After making the decision to come back to competitive sport after a 4-year hiatus, here I was being faced with the possibility of needing to take precious time off again. Time and fate never seemed to be on my side.

Some may call this a miracle but the timing in which HBO was showing Rocky Balboa (2006) was serendipitous. Though I had missed the first part of the movie as I was napping from the fatigue that the sickness brought on, I happened to wake up at the iconic scene where Rocky’s son, Robert, had confronted him about how difficult it was to live in the shadows of his dad all his life without ever being able to achieve any form of success purely on his own. Instead of making any attempt to apologise or sympathise with his son, Rocky proceeds to make a memorable speech where he bluntly puts Robert in his place by telling him that success is achieved by one’s willingness to take hardships and setbacks while continuing to move forward. He also addresses Robert’s self-victimisation by telling him straight up that he must never resort to blaming others for his lack of success in his life as such a practice would be cowardly and eventually get him nowhere near to what he wants to achieve.

Just like Robert, there were so many times when I had felt that I was simply not good enough to achieve my goals and resorted to blaming others for my failures. I would look upon others’ success and instantly tell myself that I am simply not as talented or as privileged as they are to be able to do what they do. In my eyes, there was also a reason for my inability to match up and that reason had to do with everyone and everything else but me. It felt temporarily good to convince myself of how people or systems had failed me badly with no responsibility being accorded to my lack of performance. However, a repetition of such a practice would only serve to delude me and paint a bleaker picture for my future. I would become very dejected as I began to feel as if my performance was completely way out of my control and that made me feel powerless.

Rocky was right. Life only becomes hopeless when we choose to always victimise ourselves. I have come to realise that everyone starts off on a different footing depending on each of our circumstances. However, champions are made from their ability to withstand setbacks and overcome obstacles while still choosing to move ahead in their journey. Granted, there will be times when the success of those around us may leave us feeling helpless about our present failures and inadequacy. Yet, we must remember that winning is done based on how much we can take while we keep moving forward.


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