(10/365) 14 Years Later, Bone Crusher Is Still Making Me Hurt Myself At the Gym

It’s been 14 years since Atlanta rapper, Bone Crusher, released the song “Never Scared.” For those who need a refresher or maybe an introduction see the video below:

The song captures the black hyper-masculine imagination, through booming southern beats, aggressive imagery and T.I. — the skinniest rapper in the song and the only one that went on to be commercially successful. (Sidenote: It’s strange to hear Killer Mike talk at length without endorsing Bernie Sanders.) At 14, I was on the precipice of the sexually charged and confusing world of teendom. I didn’t know who I was and looked toward other black males for guidance.

I found images like this video. I desperately wanted to be a part of this image or at least convinced myself that I did. I knew I didn’t want to be a part of who I naturally was — incredible shy and socially awkward. My social skills were so pathetic I wondered how I survived. But I didn’t really, I just pretended to. I pretended to be “hard” and even I played football to prove my masculinity. At the time, it made sense. Now, it’s just embarrassing.

Since then, I’ve embraced who I am. I’m no longer in an “Axe” scented locker room with a bunch of teenage boys laughing at homophobic and sexist jokes, hoping to go unnoticed. I’ve embraced all parts of me — some are traditionally feminine and others masculine. All are me. But every now and then that 14 year-old comes out. Today — out of nostalgia — he came out when I heard this song.The song made me “feel myself,” and I told my body it was stronger than it was.

I put extra plates on the squat rack and with Bone Crusher telling me I was never scared, I quickly hoisted the weights off the rack and push through pain. And by pain I mean the kind of pain in my lower back that should not have been there. Yup, I hurt myself again, pretending to be someone I’m not. Bone Crusher convinced me that I had the strength to get through anything, again. But it turns out, nah, sometimes I’m not strong enough. I can’t do anything I want.

Never scared? That’s a joke. I’m scared all the time. Sure, I try to overcome fears, but there is something powerful about being vulnerable and honest when you need a break or help.

These are lessons I wish I knew as a 14 year-old trying to impress people that I don’t know anymore in a steamy football weight room. At the time (and apparently sometimes now), I’d rather hurt myself than look weak. But it’s all an illusion. We’re all scared sometimes. The strongest among us can admit it. Until we learn to do that, we’ll just end up hurting ourselves in the long run.

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