The Transformation of a Nerdy Asian Gamer

I for one would rather die young in the pursuit of my dreams than die old, comfortable, and unfulfilled. Will you choose the safe path of a slow death, or risk it all for your heart’s desire?

Even now I can remember the feeling of despondency as I lay in bed. I just knew that I would never get a girlfriend. Therefore, life had no meaning, and I had no purpose.

If I was a melodramatic person I would say that I felt like a stranger in a strange land.

In reality I was just a typical teenage boy trying to find his place in the world. But one difference did separate me from my peers- I was Chinese and they were not.

nerdy asian

Nerdy Asian Gamer

I remember thinking about my day as I lay in bed. The first sixth grade dance was a week away and it fired my imagination. If only I could get a girl to go with me, then we would dance, and maybe touch, and if we touched, then maybe she would like me, and if she liked me, maybe she would go out with me, and if she went out with me then my life would be perfect and I would never have to worry about anything, ever again.

Solid sixth grader logic. But my plan had one fatal flaw. I was a skinny Asian kid in a predominantly white school in the mid-west. I wore massive Harry Potter-esque glasses and had the social skills of a rock. I arrived to school each morning looking like I’d survived an electrical accident; my hair stuck straight out- except for the side that I’d slept on. The hair on that side had the appearance of being glued to my head. In a word, I was unattractive.

As if my appearance wasn’t enough to tank my social status I also read gigantic fantasy novels. Robert Jordan and Terry Goodkind were my constant companions through school. When other students socialized I would be absorbed in a fantasy world of trollocs and myrddraal. Apparently teenage girls aren’t into that kind of stuff.

I still wonder how that timid little Asian boy could have ever grown into the man I am today.

My Inspiration

At fourteen I saw Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movie True Lies in which he plays a super-spy living a double-life as a computer salesman. In his movies Arnold always got the girl, won the day, and earned everyone’s respect. I idealized the thought of being big like Arnold. I thought, “If I was muscular then I will get ALL the girls!

But how would I get muscular? I didn’t own any weights and I knew nothing about bodybuilding.

I improvised.

Every night for the next month I practiced the only workout routine I knew. Bicep curls followed by more bicep curls finished up with an extra set of bicep curls. My spindly little Chinese arms pumped a water-filled one-gallon milk jug. I exercised with fervor as I visualized the amazing life that could be mine. At the end of that month I had the beginnings of a bicep and I was hooked.

From the milk-jug I progressed to old weights my mom owned. I’m almost certain she bought them in the 80’s because they were an ugly golden brown color, had hundreds of ridiculous sparkly pieces of somethingembedded in the plastic, and were filled with sand that would swish inside the plastic shell. This produced a maraca-like shake shake shake sound with every rep.

The weights weighed eight pounds and I could complete a set of twenty curls before fatigue set in. I was pretty strong.

After two months of my new weight-training regime I knew I was onto something special. Children on the bus would ask me to perform bicep flexes daily. Looking back now I don’t know whether they really wanted to see me flex or were just poking fun at my pathetic 10 inch arms. The truth didn’t matter. I had gotten a taste of the attention that muscles could bring and nothing was going to stop me.

Serious Muscle

Now we move ahead to my freshman year at Missouri State University. Like many first year students I didn’t care one bit about how I did in class. Unlike many first year students I also didn’t care about partying or socializing. I had one goal. I was going to get huge.

Each day I worked out for two hours in the gym. Instead of studying for class I poured over countless topics on bodybuilding.com and took breaks by playing World of Warcraft.

In the summer of 2006 when the first year of school ended I had progressed from a unremarkable 155lbs to a respectable 175lbs. My strength in the gym increased tremendously- my bench press rose to 255 from a max of 205. I even developed stretch marks on my chest and biceps because of their rapid growth!

The most exciting change however had nothing to do with my body. It was in how people perceived me.

I sensed a palpable change in my relationship to those around me. I was taken more seriously because I had proven that I could accomplish something difficult. I wasn’t just a shy Asian kid anymore. I was a weight lifter. I was a bodybuilder. I was someone who deserved respect.

I was able to show on the outside what I had always felt on the inside. That I was destined for more than mediocrity. That I was someone who could accomplish great things in life.

Unfulfilled Expectations

In the fall of 2008 I reached a physique milestone of six percent bodyfat at 187 pounds. I have never looked as good before or since. Accomplishing a goal I’d held since childhood was an amazing feeling, but the euphoria didn’t last. Discontent grew inside me as 2009 began. The process took many weeks, but finally I accepted the reality that having a great body didn’t bring any lasting happiness or joy.

That realization was a precursor to three months of depression. Being big had been my beacon of hope in my otherwise unremarkable life. Every aspiration I held was centered around the idea that once I was big I would be confident, respected, and happy. But to my dismay I learned that a good body by itself brought none of these things. If anything they heightened my feelings of insecurity because now I was out of excuses for why I didn’t have the life I wanted.

In the depths of depression I learned that our inner selves are distinctly separate from our physical bodies. I learned that our inner selves require work and attention to grow and develop just as our physical bodies require the same care. In those months I voraciously read self-development books by Napoleon Hill, Anthony Robbins, Jack Canfield, and Robin Sharma. As I learned from these masters who had mastered themselves a new vision crystallized.

The Total Human

I strive today to develop myself mind, body, and soul.

The journey is arduous. Every new attempted endeavor delivers multiple failures before success is achieved. Nothing ever turns out as expected. Life tests your mettle at every turn in this human Odyssey.

Is it worth the cost? Absolutely. Humans are built to face challenges. Our souls crave growth. Comfort and security cause stagnation of the mind and spirit. We are never truly alive until we push at the edges of our self imposed limits.

I can say with complete honesty that today I am happy. There is not a shred of discontent within me. I still have many goals to accomplish but I no longer look to future events for fulfillment. I am fulfilled in the present. I am secure in the knowledge that no matter what happens in life this harmony of mind, body, and spirit can be maintained.

My Message for You

Deep inside you there is a burning desire for greatness. Maybe you don’t want to be the next Mr. Olympia or president of the United States, but there is something great that you’ve always wanted to accomplish. Maybe you’ve dreamed of traveling the world, writing a book, or becoming an artist. Maybe you want to own your own restaurant. Maybe your dream is to be a rock-star but you became an accountant because that was the safe path.

Fear. Fear of failure, fear of disappointment, fear of the unknown. Fear is what keeps us bound, gagged, and immobile. But let me ask you this: how fulfilled are you after decades of living a “safe” and “conventional” life? You already know where this path leads. Be fearless. Take risks. He who dares, wins.

I for one would rather die young in the pursuit of my dreams than die old, comfortable, and unfulfilled. Will you choose the safe path of a slow death, or risk it all for your heart’s desire?

Jack originally published this article on his blog