Letter from a barbell

The following is a post from my friend Michael Wilkinson. Michael spent 7 years in the Navy, has 2 North Carolina State Championships in weightlifting, and is an American Open qualifier. He is currently finishing his bachelors in psychology with a minor in cognitive science at North Carolina State University where he was recently awarded a graduate level research project looking at performance and perception of weightlifters. In addition to competing 3x at the world level in Hapkido, he is an intense and fierce competitor, as well as coach, in weightlifting. Enjoy his "Letter from a barbell."  

Letter from a Barbell


Dear Athlete,


You and I, we are friends. When you feel hopeless, I will be waiting for you to take your angers and life’s frustrations out on me. When you are elated, I will be there to greet you with a new PR and another reason to train. Until the end of time, when you are old and withered, when I am bent and rusty, I’ll be here waiting for you whenever you need me. Because that’s what friends do. They comfort us in our darkest hours, they genuinely celebrate victories during our finest hours, and they forgive us to grow stronger, learn lessons, and move forward.


I will always tell you the truth. I will never say you’re a bad person, or call you an idiot, and I will never stroke your ego or tell you what you want to hear for your own sake. You cannot lie to me either. I know when you’re feeling weak, when you’re feeling invincible, and I will know when you’re lying to yourself. You missed a lift, so what? Get over it and move on. You made a lift, so what? Get over yourself and move forward. I have good news and bad news for you, friend. You are neither your past misses, nor are you your past accomplishments. I do not care what you’ve done before, or what you plan to do in the future. You will earn your life every day. All I care about is, do you have the courage to do it again today?


I understand that I can be intimidating. When your hands hurt so bad, simply looking at me can make you cringe. On off days, I might feel like a hundred earths. Do you need a rest, or are you just afraid? Should you stop now or keep pushing? Often enough, decisions are not made between good and bad, but between bad and worse. React how you must, but remember: You are accountable for every decision you make—scared, nervous, anxious, hurt, or otherwise. You have no one to blame but yourself, and no one is going to bring you to your victory, but you.


Lastly, friend, life is finite. Do not spend all of your time with me. Use what I’ve taught you, enjoy what you have, and muster the audacity to take a step in the direction of your dreams. I’ll be here when you get back—and you will be back.


Gratefully your friend,