The Schnitzel Effect

I happen to look, physically, better than my age. In fact, every time I tell people my real age, which is 50 at the moment of writing, I am met with disbelief, like I’m trying to play games or making bad jokes. Usually, it takes some time to convince them that this is actually my real age.

I attribute this to two factors. The first one is obviously genetics. I have centenaries in my close family (my grandfather from my mother lived 101 years, went through two world wide wars) and, overall, I enjoyed a very good level of health throughout my life, nothing serious in terms of chronic or genetic illnesses. The second one is a bit counterintuitive and, in case you didn’t realize yet, it’s in the title of the article. I call it the “schnitzel effect”.

What Is The Schnitzel Effect?

You know how they prepare the meat for making schnitzels? Well, after they slice it down, they beat it with a hammer. The more they beat it, the tender the meat gets. That’s all there is to it, that’s the schnitzel effect.

If you get it out of the culinary area, it translates as a life filled with hurdles, resistance, difficulties. And indeed, that’s what I went through. My first 40 years were basically a roller coaster, in which every second felt like a fight for my life (well, maybe not every second, but most of the time). It wasn’t until I finally entered my last decade that I reached the level of “tenderness” that’s good for me (or at least that’s how I feel right now, because difficulties look to have plateaued, somehow).

If you really think about, it’s not that counterintuitive. Tenderness always comes as a result of a struggle, we get more resilient after we’ve experienced storms and we get more compassionated once we’ve been through some personal hell too. Successfully dealing with beatings (I’m talking about emotional and psychological situations here, not about physical beatings, just so we’re clear) eventually results in some sort of fragility, some vulnerability that we’re not afraid to show anymore, because, well, we know what to expect. And we already dealt with that shit before.

Of course it sucks, while you’re in the middle of the storm. Of course it hurts when you get the beatings. But, as time goes by, I got to understand the value in this trials, in these long periods of struggle. I made peace with the fact that that’s how you make the schnitzel taste good. That’s how you actually become better, because of the hurdles, not because you dodged them.

I understand that this might be just my own reframing, and there’s no sense in either difficulty or easiness, but it happens that this reframing works for me. And it’s also a very nice conversation opener.

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