We measure ourselves on capricious scales, on the calibration of others. We weigh our lives on Facebook. On cars and houses and women and jobs and accolades. When we fail to get these things, when we feel we deserve them and yet miss out, some of us grow despondent, relinquishing ourselves to mediocrity and acceptance of being average. The fight against this “quiet desperation”, as Thoreau called it, is the largest battle in an unlucky man’s life.
First step for not losing your mind: accept defeats, shortcomings, failures that you can’t fix and then go about finding something you can control. We talk a lot on here about being the best possible version of yourself, and while self-improvement is the cornerstone of this subreddit, we don’t often talk in a productive way about just how many ingredients in the formula are actually beyond our control: that welding of luck, connections, birth, opportunity, longevity and genetics that lead to natural success.
You have to accept that you may have disadvantages, flaws, things you can’t fix. You may never overcome these things, but the key to being an enlightened man is that you should never, ever, stop trying to overcome. There is even a word for this, and it is perhaps the most important character trait that you can actually fully control. The one attribute that matters most. That trait is commonly called grit.
Not tall enough? Not the right color? Not born rich, charming, no 16 inch cock?
Fuck your shortcomings. Get some grit. It is the only stat that means anything.
The word grit comes to us from the act of setting one's teeth together, a conscious, unyielding reaction to a great weight, pain, or discomfort borne through. It also falls under the heading of “will” and “discipline” and “work-ethic” but it is a much more apt and all-encompassing and appropriate word for what it means to be a bottom 99% man in the late 2010s.
The men who have it have a way of stubbornness, of workmanly candor, of growing towards some inner purpose that only they can name or assign any adjectives to. When challenged on their worth by uncontrollable events they withdraw to an invisible spot inside where only they can hold stewardship over the value of their own souls.
Translation: they push through the bullshit, the self-doubt, and the disappointment through never quitting, never thinking about quitting, never getting discouraged by the piles of garbage the world throws at them. The gritty spend their energy not on the fact that they are battered, but on getting up again and again despite how the world may stack itself against them.
It is a trait that has largely gone overlooked, overshadowed by a pile of buzzwords about success, life-hacks, being “alpha” etc. The reason being that humble grit is not a fun, sexy concept— it is not the kind of word most people imagine having on their tombstone. Grit is as dirty as it sounds, as low as it sounds, almost base or animal. But make no mistake: it is a mule pulling the plow of humanity, a mule breaking through the sod of mediocrity with the compounding energy of patience.
In short: male grit has built the world we currently inhabit. But it is a disappearing art. We’ve learned from feminism and our victimization culture that life will be fair if only you spend your time being “socially conscious” or whatever the fuck that means. We’ve been inculcated with senseless caring about things no one can change, about trying to fix the world for whoever the media tells us is currently “oppressed”. We then carry this cultural attitude over to our own lives- at which point some of us crack at the overwhelming unfairness of the world.
So how does one have grit?
Grit comes from deciding that greatness can be built with the slow stacking of stones over decades. It is a sort of hope, or even the assurance that each grinding thing that you do will amount to some greater reckoning. It is each rep at the gym, each approach, each resume submitted, every time you show up on time when others don’t. It is denying yourself that wine, those pills, that porn, those easy floozies who are going to wreck your life. Grit is building your own worth through consistency and unflagging belief in yourself.
Because the gritty believe in themselves— not quite in that sappy motivational poster way, but in the happy acceptance that the world is designed to make them fail. Because make no mistake, the world wants you to fail. It is made to keep you mediocre, to feed you mediocrity and acceptance and to make your grit seem like something unnecessary and even selfish. And we either open up and swallow it or we grit our teeth. That’s what grit is.
To be gritty, we need to decide that it doesn’t matter what words people call us, to resign ourselves to our shortcomings, to understand that defeat is the grandest nourishment a man can have so long as he keeps coming back for more.
In the end, grit is doing hard things because they are hard and for no other reason than they are hard and they are the right thing to do. Because there are two kinds of failure. There is the failure of the outside world and then there is the failure of self. Too many men let the first dictate and lead to the second.
Grit is not to do what is easy, to give up in that easy way that is forever tickling the back of your mind. It is to never slip into apathy or complacence or despair. It is to make your effort, passion, and drive a thing set apart from all external circumstances.
A new year is coming. Grit your teeth gentlemen.
Thanks again TRP: Book and [blog](www.thehumananimal.net).