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In the world there are different levels to everything, toughness is no exception. For instance, if you grew up in the hood, the streets will make you hard and tough. Either they do or you will simply become a victim and servant to those streets.
If you listen to real tough guys like Wes Watson, Shaun Atwood or Big Herc who talk about their life experiences in prison, you’ll find that it is the same thing there but at a much higher level where the stakes are much more real.
It was the same in elementary, Junior High, and then High school growing up in the Bronx. Not so much once I entered college, things were a bit different there. In college I didn’t really feel or experience that your toughness had any bearing on your standing. In college it was more about intellect. In my case, this was useful as I’m fairly good at academics.
There is clearly a pecking order in the work force, though this is more apparent in some lines of work. For instance, the military has a very clear hierarchy and pecking order. Though this has no real bearing on your toughness except maybe in places like the Marine Corps where being a badass is a job requirement!
The same applies in well off neighborhoods where you have a bunch of spoiled rich kids. The expression of dominance or toughness usually isn’t as violent as it is in the hood, but it exists for them as well.
Personally, I don’t consider myself a tough guy, but I can handle myself. I grew up in the streets, but I never became of the streets. I experienced the abuse that I mentioned before in the streets, and that led me to become harder. There are limits to my toughness, but that is because I am intelligent. I know that I have much to lose, therefore I’m not willing to take risks that can cost me what I’ve worked so hard to attain. I’m also not willing to risk my freedom to show how tough I am.
Mind you, I am fully aware that this puts me at a disadvantage in the world. When it comes to wolves eating wolves, only the most heartless will survive. If we were living in a lawless society like the Walking Dead or something like that, then I’d definitely become the animal that is necessary to survive in that world.
It’s hard to fathom today because I’m so docile, but I’ve done whatever was necessary to survive in whatever circumstances I found myself in throughout my life. Be that in the streets, school, the military and so on. I always made it out and mostly thrived. Because of this, there is no doubt in my mind that I’d become whatever is necessary to survive under those circumstances as well. But in civilized society I do have my limits as do most reasonable human beings.
This is a big factor in determining your toughness. If you don’t care about your life and where you end up, that makes you a very dangerous person. Stupid but dangerous and I suppose that translate to tough. This is why suicide fighters are such a dangerous enemy, they have no fear of death and don’t expect to go home, they are just looking to do as much damage as possible. The same applies to lifers in prison, they have nothing to lose, so they can kill indiscriminately because no matter what they do, they are never going home.
A normal person like you or me, we are aware of consequences and we don’t want that. This makes us cautious and therefore by definition less tough or dangerous than some of the aforementioned individuals. It doesn’t mean they can beat you in a fight, but if they don’t hesitate in stabbing or shooting you, then what can you do at that point? How do you fight a guy who wants to die and take you with him? Most of us don’t want to shoot or stab someone unless we have no other choice, but if this is the first instinct of your foe, that’s a very dangerous or tough foe indeed.
What are your thoughts on being tough?