wrestling, achievement

The Wrestler & The Therapist (Post 41)

I had a crush on a wrestler in high school.  He was a wrestler and a top, student-athlete.  He was one of the first people who showed me, by example, what a disciplined and GUIDED work ethic can do.  It can make you the best or very close to it.



wrestling and achievement


The wrestler ran full marathons before he was even 16.  He ran to and from school in one of those plastic suits like the Matthew Modine character in Vision Quest.  Feck, this wrestler was almost exactly like that character to a “t,” but without the catering job.


When the wrestler wasn’t working out, he studied.  The wrestler studied so much that he would fall asleep on his books.


Back when I was in New York, I went to weekly therapy.  For ten, consecutive, years, I met with this lovely, caring, and intelligent therapist once a week.  I can not say enough good things about her and the influence she has had on my life.  I used to talk to this therapist about “achieving” A LOT.  One of the biggest things she impressed upon me (when I felt like a failure, mostly) was how much help super-achievers really have.  She swore to it.  I would argue.  I would say, “What about the kid from the projects that makes good and goes to Harvard.”  She would answer, “He had help.  Somewhere, somehow, someone helped him.”


how therapy helped me


An article I read recently talked about a common trait that all overachievers possess:  COMMUNITY.


Of course, that idea struck a nerve.


When I think about the wrestler, I remember his older brother.  The brother was out of high school at the time that I knew him.  He had a blue collar, manual job of some type as I remember it.  He had been a champion high school wrestler himself.  The wrestler’s brother installed a wrestling mat in the basement for his kid brother.  He wrestled and coached him all the time.  (Mia Hamm, it’s no surprise, also had an older brother who played soccer.)  That’s what usually helps.  Someone who is slightly better and bigger than you, but who cares.  If they focus attention on you, you will improve at a faster rate.  The wrestler had a sister.  The sister was a bit of a burn-out, but no dummy.  She was a senior when I knew her and I got the sense that she felt as if she had squandered her high school years.  When she talked about her little brother, she mainly talked about how much he studied.  I got the sense that she encouraged him to study to make up for her missed opportunities.


Is it any surprise that the wrestler went to the wrestling finals AND to an ivy league school?  No.  It is not.


So, why am I bringing this all up?  I think it occurs to me that in order to achieve ANYTHING gargantuan in this life – YOU NEED OTHER PEOPLE.


“No man is an island on to himself,” they say.


And every man would starve on that island if he didn’t work with other people AND use his ingenuity, along with their tutelage and expertise, to get food.


I think I’m also realizing that your “community” can come in many different forms.  But, you must cultivate it.  You must.  It can be made up of your friends, your fans, your family, a therapist, a teacher, a coach, a mentor, or a combination of all of the above.


With it, you can achieve lots.


Without it – there’s a ceiling, there’s a literal cap on what you can do.


This is true of everything, as far as I can see.  As always, I’d love to know what you think.



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49 thoughts on “The Wrestler & The Therapist (Post 41)

  1. Your post made me think of the “resilient child”. The basic idea is that a child, any child, would be able to make significantly more of him/herself as long as at least one person believes in and takes the time to nurture him/her.

    What you’ve said about the role of community makes me wonder if perhaps the same concept can be extended to include adults. It probably could. Definitely food for thought, anyway.

    Thank you for the wonderful post, SM 🙂

    1. i know this concept of the ‘resilient child’ tho i’ve never heard it put quite so clearly. so good on you. as for can an adult achieve with a support system? YEEEESSSS and yes again. i think the people who really do above and beyond have a support somewhere. it may be a parent, a lifelong friend, or sh*t even the members of their company (the ppl the person actually employes) but, they have ’em. xoxo, sm

  2. I like what you’re saying, SM. In fact, it borders on the point I tried to make (but apparently failed) in my most recent post. Like missvato2012 says, it just takes someONE to believe in a child to make a difference. It might not be a huge difference, because kids never learn from our mistakes. But any move is a good move. (I wanted to end with something funny but this was a serious post so I just want to say thank you.)

    1. i doubt you failed, but i will read it just to see. 😉 lol. and i agree with the someONE. especially with a kid – they need that one person. or village or whatever, but they need at least one. i would also say adults need it too… i have nothing funny today either. clearly. i’m on a roll with the unfunny stuff. time to get back to funny soon. lol. xo, sm

  3. Kate Brauning wrote a review of my book on Amazon that says this exact thing. Well, not about the wrestler or the therapist, but…
    […Community itself keeps Katherine strong throughout her loveless marriage. and …Briggs addresses the vital importance of community…]
    Community is a huge factor when it comes to achieving our goals.

    1. HUGE factor. couldn’t agree more. and sometimes we have to seek it out on our own by doing things like this or physically going out and finding those few, choice, people, but you have to have it. you can NOT achieve big in a vacuum. i don’t believe it’s possible. xoxo, sm

    1. i’d say this blog is one community that i use to keep pushing forward. some ppl who interact with me on twitter a lot are too. then in my life, definitely wifesy and a few choice comedian/ writers. my friends dan curry and jason good – both comic/ writers. and my buddy, michelle buteau. they all seem to get what i do and encourage me to keep going. plus they give me great and HELPFUL criticism when i need it / leave me alone when i don’t… great question. xoxo, sm

  4. There are exceptions to every rule, Carrie, and you are obviously an exception. Who knows, if you had a mentor, you might be winning a Nobel Prize in medicine instead of gunning for one in Literature. : )

    1. she was awesome. is. she’s not dead. i just don’t see her bc she’s in new york. lool. but, i credit her – a great deal – with getting me where i am today. i have no doubt you do that for people too, lyssa. xo, sm

      1. That’s my goal!
        My first therapist also lives in a very warm place in my heart. She helped me through some really sucky times.
        (and you know how to get my attention – just put the word ‘therapist’ in your blog title!)

      2. yeah, i swear to you, mine really helped me figure out who i am. and i went to her from like age 25 to 35, which I think are crucial lady years or anybody years for that matter. lool. not surprised you had a good therapist too… 😉 oh and i’ll be throwing the word ‘therapist’ in every title from now on. jk, jk

  5. i agree with he who and you might be one. however, you also just might not have ‘noticed’ the ‘help.’ sometimes it’s in the form of parents. for example, you did extremely well in school in order to even get into medical school. SOMEONE must’ve set an example for you in that regard. maybe it was your parents, maybe it was a set of teachers. sometimes it’s an ‘incident’ and then a desire to not have that happen to one’s self. but, i find even the smart kids don’t live up to their full potential unless encouraged… just my experience. but, then again, you could be – like he who says – the exception. xoxo, sm

    1. Your point about encouragement is spot on! Everyone has always told me I should write and I haven’t simply because I had such low self esteem that I really thought no one would want to read what I write about. Between my therapist (who is super awesome) and my partner, I now can’t stop writing and I am so much happier now that I am letting myself do it. Without that encouragement though, I would still just be sharing grump cat photos on the Internet.

  6. I think mentors are so important for kids, whether they are in the form of parents, teachers, or other personal contacts. Taking the time to coach someone who looks up to you is well worth it–both mentee and mentor benefit from the relationship.

    As always, SM, you are the bomb!

  7. Today is my anti-anniversary. Yesterday I celebrated by doing my version of stand up. Part of that routine is about community and the ripple affect, or the anti community. This is the dark side and yours is the light. You are precisely correct. We do not ever succeed entirely on our own, nor do we fail with at least a small push.

    1. i would love to see you do stand up… did you talk about that sense of community or lack thereof, in the act? and be careful, standups are a fraternity-communitly like NO OTHER… loool. if you’ve drank the koolaid, you’ll quickly know what i mean. 😉 xo

  8. This is spooky because of a documentary I watched yesterday afternoon. A baby was only about 18 months old or less, her mother left a cigarette resting over the edge of her bedside table when she went in to see her cos she was crying. Walked off and left it there. The cigarette fell to the floor and set the baby’s room on fire. The mother got herself out but the baby was burning. They rescued her but she was solid as she had 90% of her body burnt. Her face was melted her hands burned off. It was horrific. Her mother said she couldn’t bare to see her like that knowing she did it so walked out.
    You’d think that with all that against her they didn’t think she’d live, correction they were sure she’d die.
    They have video coverage of her progress and that baby was laughing happy learning her words she was amazing.
    It is relevant I promise. Although her mother left her father dedicated his life to her. And when they tried to praise him he said no it was her that kept him going she was strong. (her dad was a lovely man) she got a step mother who doted on her and she doted on her step mum. Together they brought up a little girl who said ‘I can do anything I want to do…. ESPECIALLY if someone tells me I can’t loved that she’s a normal 15 year old.
    It proves your point that we do need people to support us keep us going when everything seems to be too much or we ‘can’t’ do it. But in this case it was who I thought of as the victim the little girl who was that someone for her dad.
    As always you made me think. I am completely independent I ‘go hermit’ that’s my friends phrase. A lot. Usually when I don’t feel happy I don’t see why I should inflict me on others. I go completely silent and don’t concentrate on what people are saying. Worst was when I forgot completelyni was engaged in conversation with someone and walked away mid sentence oblivious that he was still talking lol so I go hermit. I may explain why to them one day who knows they may just help :0)

    1. that story is AMAZING. i truly believe if kids (and adults) are given support in the “right way,” which means in the way that they need – awesome things can happen. the thing is, you have to be willing to accept that support from unexpected places. for example, from here and twitter – i never would’ve dreamed that i would’ve enjoyed the sense of community, the commentary, and at times, even the encouraging, but i do. lawd, how i do. so, yay, ems, go right up to someone and tell them what you need. or at the very least, don’t walk away while someone is talking. looooool. xoxo, sm

      1. I knowwwww hahaha I felt so bad when a friend came to mine to say I did it and she couldn’t move for laughing. I apologised he accepted … But didn’t stop for a chat. Lmao. You made me laugh out loud with that ‘lawd how I do’ lmao. Thing is I think I’ve got it covered I just recharge my batteries alone and reemerge. I like my own company and sometimes being with a lot of people all the time is completely exhausting. But maybe ask them so I don’t get the same over and over what did I do are we still friends thing. So they feel needed. And set an egg timer so they don’t stay too long hahahaha. A few mates aren’t exhausting they can stay as long as they want. But most….. I talk to you more lol

      2. It’s called ‘The girl with 90% burns’ English documentary. It’s simply amazing as is she.

  9. Very good stuff and a great reminder of who I need to be to my kiddos. My hubby and I adopted 6 kiddos from the foster system. We strive to encourage them to be all they can be, because any goal they want to achieve, they are capable no matter what the circumstances are. Here’s to hoping and praying that they believe in themselves always. And they too, were the “community” who allowed hubby and I to achieve what we wanted, to be the best parents we could be! Thank you for this wonderful post!

  10. My Dad was always my go-to person. He coached me in everything from my ABC’s [in a language he learned in his 30’s] to table tennis. But the thing that made the greatest difference was that he always made me /think/. Perhaps if I had had a brother, my brother might have received all this encouragement but I was an only child and Dad pushed me to be the best I could be. There was a downside, of course, but I like the person I have become. So yes, community, however you define it, is the secret ingredient.

  11. I absolutely agree. One of the things I’m most grateful for is the community of friends, family, and fellow parents who all play a role in the upbringing of my three children. I hope my sons cultivate community as they head out into the world.

  12. SM,
    There are those who influence us and leave good impressions on our lives. These are the people we slowly emulate without even knowing it.

    I love the way you weave your stories: you take an idea, make it better, relate it to yourself or the world around you, and presto! I always leave feeling like I’ve learned something and want to go out and do/be more.
    Thank you for your inspiration and knowing.

  13. Excellent post! I love that you touched on community taking different forms. I know plenty of people whose families weren’t that encouraging source for them. But they found the support elsewhere, a coach, a teacher, a friend.

  14. I am so glad to find you again…. I discovered my most favorite blogs/posts in my SPAM box! I had wondered so long where ‘all’ had gone to.

    Now… I’m here again, and if your posts disappear again, I know where to look! I wanted you to know. Granny Gee/Gloria I’m so glad to see you again.

  15. I have benefitted from that community in my life for sure. I was raised about 30 years from my grandparents home. They insisted that I had brains and talent, even if I did not hear that at home. They willed me to get an education and to find something I love to do for a living. I am forever indebted to them and know I could not have done it alone.

  16. Loved this! I am a firm believer that we are all connected, and that no single one of us can achieve anything really meaningful on our own. I used to despise therapy; but I now have the best therapist in the whole freakin’ world. The work she makes me do – even when I curse at her – makes me a better person. I curse at her a lot and she is just the cutest little unassuming Jewish woman – I am pretty sure she could kick my ass though. 🙂

    1. honestly, a good therapist is worth their weight in gold. i feel so lucky to have had a good one. there are a lot of bad ones out there too. it sounds like you’ve got a great one. AND THANK YOU FOR WRITING THAT LETTER. i haven’t even had a moment to check my gmail yet, but i will. where should i send it? some kind of AA email? customer svc dept? seriously, very cool that you did that. xoxo

      1. The address is on there. I wrote it to the CEO of AA. If you want shit done – skip customer service. Also, everything in red – you need to edit because some of the details I just didn’t have. Also, you gotta go old school and print it out and mail it. Another compliant letter means of effectiveness – emails get ignored, by everyone. When they have an actual letter in thier hands they tend to at least respond. Go read it! LOL I want to know what you think. I told them you are now going to fly Southwest. 🙂

  17. Excellent post. It takes community and it takes faith in oneself. As a former wrestler myself, I can attest to haviing someone slightly bigger and better than yourself to push you towards success.

  18. I think you are totally right. It we don’t have a community of people encouraging us and supporting our decisions, it’s really easy to think “what’s the point.” We’re often told that we need to do things for ourselves, but there’s a lot to be said about when you have support.

  19. It’s completely true. Have you read ‘Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell– a lot of insight into what ingredients are necessary for success.
    I’ve been thinking about this sort of thing a lot lately, and how I want to give my children access to the kinds of social networks and supports I didn’t have.

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