TOBY NG

Guts Over Fear

As my retirement tournament is about to begin in a few days, allow me to share a post that is a bit different. Let me tell you about my favourite competition song and why. I understand that music affects us all differently, and often we have different contexts for liking certain songs. When we hear music, it transforms us and brings us back to a memory or feeling, and that is something that usually gets lost in context. For example, a movie's theme song has little effect on those who haven't seen the movie, most likely. I'm going to attempt to give context into a song that has been very dear to me for a while now because I can relate to it in my own way. Unfortunately, there is strong language, but I wouldn't expect anything less from a controversial, but legendary artist, Eminem.

Eminem - Guts Over Fear ft. Sia (Lyric Video)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=iH0Wwl⁠…

[Bridge: Eminem]
Feels like a close, it's coming to
F-ck am I gonna do?
It's too late to start over
This is the only thing I, thing I know

Commentary: The bridge hits home very hard. Although Eminem speaks about his rap music and how some feel he is nearing retirement, I constantly echo the same thoughts over and over again about my badminton:

Am I good enough still? What else can I do? I've put in so much time and effort into badminton. It feels like this is the only thing I know

[Verse 1: Eminem]
Sometimes I feel like all I ever do is
Find different ways to word the same old song
Ever since I came along
From the day the song called “Hi! My Name Is” dropped
Started thinking my name was Fault
‘Cause any time things went wrong
I was the one who they would blame it on
The media made me the equivalent
Of a modern-day Genghis Khan
Tried to argue it was only entertainment, dog
Gangster? Nah, courageous balls
Had to change my style, they said I'm way too soft
And I sound like AZ and Nas, out came the claws
And the fangs been out since then
But up until the instant that I went against it
It was ingrained in me
That I wouldn't amount to a sh-tstain, I thought
No wonder I had to unlearn everything my brain was taught
"Do I really belong in this game?", I pondered
I just wanna play my part
Should I make waves or not?
So back and forth in my brain the tug of war wages on

Commentary: Eminem raps about how sometimes he feels he is constantly discussing his rags to riches story in different songs. He also addresses how he had a controversial style of rapping, and how the media constantly blamed his music and lyrics for bad things happening. In his defense, he always said his lyrics are just for entertainment purposes, and a lot of times, it's just how the rhyming scheme fits together, as he uses "compound syllable rhyming" to rhyme approximate sounds (e.g. "same old song", "came along", "day the song", "Name Is' dropped", "name was Fault", "things went wrong", "blame it on", "Genghis Khan", "(enter)tainment, dog", etc.).

So despite strong lyrics in his songs, I have grown to appreciate how his lyrics are constructed, in a way that he can rhyme so many things as well as tell a vivid story, often quite relatable because many of us love the rags to riches story. It's inspiring. Continuing with the rest of the verse so far, he raps about how he was at a point where he didn't know what he wanted to do, which I definitely can relate to:

Being ingrained with the thought that badminton in Canada is impossible. Do I really belong with the rest of the players on the world stage? I just want to compete. Should I try to fight back the system or not?

[Verse 1 continued: Eminem]
And I don't wanna seem ungrateful
Or disrespect the artform I was raised upon
But sometimes you gotta take a loss
And have people rub it in your face
Before you get made pissed off
And keep plugging, it's your only outlet
And your only outfit, so you know they gonna talk about it
Better find a way to counter it quick and make it… ah
Feel like I've already said this a kabillion eighty times
How many times can I say the same thing
Different ways that rhyme?
What I really wanna say is, if there's anyone else that can relate to my story, bet you feel the same way I felt
When I was in the same place you are, when I was afraid to—

Commentary: Eminem references channeling the energy from his frustrations and putting it back into his work, much like trying to channel the energy of my frustrations in badminton back into my training. I have often tried to voice certain things but it often feels in vain. And at a certain point, you're not sure if you want to say anything anymore.

[Pre-Chorus: Sia]
I was a… afraid to make a single sound
Afraid I would never find a way out, out, out
Afraid I'd never be found
I didn't wanna go another round
An angry man's power will shut you up
Trip wires fill this house with tip-toed love
Run out of excuses for everyone
So here I am and I will not run

Commentary: Yes, there were times at the beginning where I wasn't sure, so I didn't speak up. It's easy to have someone else tell you what to do, but at a certain point, you need to make that stand and do what you think is best for yourself. Much like learning what happens if you don't agree with a coaching strategy, do you follow through anyway, or do you trust your own instincts?

[Chorus: Sia]
Guts over fear, the time is near
Guts over fear, I shed a tear
For all the times I let you push me 'round
I let you keep me down
Now I got guts over fear, guts over fear

Commentary: The chorus speaks to having the courage to act and do what you think is best, and not to let fear or doubts paralyze you from making a decision, or simply following the crowd. You cannot be the best if you follow the crowd, because that's the definition of average. So at this point in the song, it is realizing that one needs to have courage, or guts, over fear.

[Bridge: Eminem]
Feels like a close, it's coming to
F-ck am I gonna do?
It's too late to start over
This is the only thing I, thing I know

[Verse 2: Eminem]
I know what it was like, I was there once
Single parents, hate your appearance
As you struggle to find your place in this world
And the pain spawns all the anger on
But it wasn't 'til I put the pain in song
Learned who to aim it on that I made a spark
Started to spit harder sh-t
Learned how to harness it while the reins were off
And there was a lot of bizarre sh-t, but the crazy part
Was soon as I stopped saying I gave a f-ck
Haters started to appreciate my art
And it just breaks my heart to look at all the pain I caused

Commentary: Eminem gives some analogies about the struggle in wanting to fit in and wanting to be accepted, but realized that it was only after he stopped caring about it and stopped caring what other people thought, was when he found the respect he wanted so much. I think everyone can relate to this one way or another, but definitely there have been many times that I have been known to be outspoken. The irony of that is that people may not like what you say if it's against them, but they will support you if you speak out against something that they are also against. In other words, people don't mind you being the bad guy if it also supports their best interests, but are often not willing to do anything otherwise.

[Verse 2 continued: Eminem]
But what am I gonna do when the rage is gone
And the lights go out in that trailer park
And the window is closing and there's nowhere else that I can go with flows and I'm frozen
‘Cause there's no more emotion for me to pull from
Just a bunch of playful songs that I make for fun
So, to the break of dawn, here I go recycling the same old song
But I rather make “Not Afraid 2”
Than make another motherf-cking “We Made You,” ah

Commentary: This section is when Eminem reflects on what happens where he retires and isn't angry anymore? What will happen when he loses the anger which he uses as fuel? He describes how he then ends up recycling the same concept of his story in song, but he would much prefer to do that than make a "playful" song (i.e. songs with less substance). Sometimes I ask myself, what might happen if I stopped caring so much about badminton, especially high performance? Many times I wondered if it would have been better to have taken the recreational route instead.

[Verse 2 continued: Eminem]
Now, I don't wanna seem indulgent
When I discuss my lows and my highs
My demise and my uprise, pray to God
I just open enough eyes later on
And gave you the supplies and the tools
To hopefully use that'll make you strong
Enough to lift yourself up, when you feel like I felt
‘Cause I can't explain to y'all how dang exhausted my legs felt
Just having to balance my dang self
When on eggshells, I was made to walk
But thank you, Ma, ‘cause that gave me the
Strength to cause Shady-mania, so when they empty that stadium
Least I made it out of that house
And found a place in this world when the day was done

Commentary: Eminem continues about the struggles he went through in the past, the ups and downs, and he hopes that his music can provide others a way to keep on moving forwards in what they are pursuing. He continues by portraying the obstacles he had to endure, and he even thanks his mother because he was able to use the obstacle as an opportunity to achieve greatness in his chosen platform. For those who don't know, he has struggled with his relationship with his mother, but has reconciled the relationship and even wrote a song called "Headlights" on his Marshall Mathers LP 2 album. This part of the verse if definitely relatable based on the obstacles we face in badminton, from lack of funding, selection criteria, and lack of communication that may occur at times. Sometimes it feels like you're on your own, but based on the song lyrics, that's where we need to channel our frustrations into actionable energy.

[Verse 2 continued: Eminem]
So this is for every kid who all's they ever did
Was dreamt of one day just getting accepted
I represent him or her, anyone similar
You are the reason that I made this song
And everything you're scared to say
Don't be afraid to say no more
From this day forward, just let them a-holes talk
Take it with a grain of salt and eat their f-cking faces off
The legend of the angry blonde
Lives on through you when I’m gone, and to think I was a—

Commentary: Eminem speaks to all those who can relate to this type of situation and encourages them to be like him, and not be afraid to say or do what they need to do. He also adds some lines about not worrying about the "haters" and that he hopes his message will live on through his musical legacy, even when he is no longer there. This final part is relatable in the way that it's better to prove those who don't agree with you wrong, instead of to argue with them, or worse, believe what they say. And when I'm gone from badminton, I do hope I can leave something behind for others as well. It is my hope to leave the system in a better place than when I went it, much like it is the same when you borrow someone else's space. And as athletes, we are all renting out space in time; there will always be someone else after us.

[Pre-Chorus: Sia]
I was a… afraid to make a single sound
Afraid I would never find a way out, out, out
Afraid I'd never be found
I didn't wanna go another round
An angry man's power will shut you up
Trip wires fill this house with tip-toed love
Run out of excuses for everyone
So here I am and I will not run

[Chorus: Sia]
Guts over fear, the time is near
Guts over fear, I shed a tear
For all the times I let you push me 'round
I let you keep me down
Now I got guts over fear, guts over fear

So there you have it, one of my most listened to pre-competition songs, and probably a song I will always remember. To this day, it gives me a chill at the end of the 2nd verse. Though my international competition days are over, my work is far from done in badminton.

Looks like I'll still be listening to this song...

Eminem - Guts Over Fear ft. Sia (Music Video)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AqnCS⁠…

Lyrics from Genius.com

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