A Fine Line between Tough and Stupid

I have never considered myself a particularly tough person. Certainly part of that comes from the messages I was given as a youth. It was in the adults’ best interest for me to cast the damage to me from their abuse and neglect as a failing on my part. Like many of the faulty and disabling messages of my youth, I accepted this as a truth.

Whilst in high school I played gridiron football, in college I discovered rugby union. One of its appeals for me is the purity of its physicality. Unhindered (some may say unprotected) by padding, there is a directness to the opposition between teams. I thankfully never suffered a serious injury but I had my share of bruising. Craig Ferguson calls rugby “an outdoor bar fight” but I only saw punches thrown once. So some might find it false modesty for me to say that I am not a particularly tough person.

I do not consider myself tough simply based on the fact that I frequently feel pain and it can stop me from doing what I want to do. The days in which my physical training is impacted by an injury now outweigh the days in which it is not. It is impossible for one person to know how something feels to another and perhaps I am using too high of a standard. But it seems to me like a lot of other folk are either less susceptible to pain or better able to withstand it. It makes logical sense to me that as a highly sensitive person I would be less tough than the average.

I do, however, consider myself a particularly stubborn person. Not universally, but I am certainly susceptible to digging in my heels, even when it is neither the wisest nor most strategic option. From a certain angle, perhaps one could say that I exhibit a certain resilience. But my experience is more like a compulsion to keep inching toward daylight. So perhaps there is a refusal to yield that looks like toughness. More likely I am just too stupid to know when to quit.

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