Have you ever been the first to do something in your life?  I mean, you’re the only one you know to have accomplished or want to accomplish a particular thing in your life.  Have that person ever been you? If so, were you ever referred to as “the guinea pig”? When one is the first to do something, the colloquial term of “guinea pig” is often used. Even if you weren’t called a guinea pig, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of the term.  It basically means “test subject”.

In reading about this phrase and its usage in the English language, it seems as if it was coined in the 1920’s despite a dwindled use of the guinea pigs with medical testing.  Since the 1920’s, mice and rats have been used more largely due to their ability to reproduce faster which would help the study that they are being used in to continue with little to no wait time.  However, it has been noted that there is evidence of guinea pigs being used for testing since the 17th century.


Now, I’m pretty sure you didn’t come here to have a lesson in guinea pigs. Rest assured I don’t plan to give you one. However, the meaning behind the phrase “guinea pig” is what I want to focus on in this post.  As previously stated, there might have been a time or two that you had to step up and be the first to go through something that was detrimental to your future. I know I’ve encountered that a few times in my life and each time, I wished I had someone who I had known experience it to help me through it. Then again, with hindsight being 20/20, I don’t.

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If you’re anything like me when I know that I have to go through a journey alone and I’m the first one, some varied form of the question in the meme rolls through your head.  What if I’m the only one in this lab we call life to go through something like this? Everything then becomes overwhelming and usually seems scary.  It often can serve as a deterrence to continue on our way to the goal if we let it. Our fears can seems far worse and larger than what they really are when we really get down to it.  As I’ve done previously, I’ll be using my current weight loss journey as the example.  I have over a hundred pounds to lose and in all honesty, I’m the only person I know in my life who is working to lose it naturally. I do know some that had to have medicine intervene.  I do know some who chose to remain at their current weight for whatever reason.  I also know some who have never had so much to lose, lose their weight and then compare it to the amount I have to lose. But personally, I know of no one who has as least as much weight as me to lose. This means that I have no other choice but to become the expert of weight loss in my life.

There are three reasons why it’s important to become the test subject in your journey to become your own expert.

  1. To know how it feels going through such a journey.
  2. To understand the work it takes to accomplish it.
  3. So that the end result can be sweeter once you reach your goal.

It’s truly hard to put into words how one feels when they are going through a journey. At times, there are emotions that can’t be explained.  Other times, there are no emotions at all.  The expert, though, will know how it feels and with that knowledge, they know how to sympathize, empathize, criticize and spurn on those who are going through their own similar journey.  Having those feelings allows us to help others. That’s why they are there in the first place.  For those times where are no emotions at all, one can simply say that it was not their battle to win.  It’s okay. We all have them.  For example, with regards to my weight loss, I converse with others who are embarking upon the same lifestyle change and one of the battles that effect them that does not bother me is salt.  I’m not a salt person whereas they can down truck loads of salt and keep right on.  Does it mean that I’m not sympathetic to them giving it up? No. I still can relate because I, too, have something to give up – sugar. My journey has a different passenger (read: I’m addicted to sugar instead of salt) but I’m still going in the same direction towards my goal as they are, which is away from our current weight.

An expert in something understands the work it takes to accomplish it.  Have you ever wondered how the patent came about?  I have.  When an inventor invents something, they are the expert of it. They know how many work hours were put into it. They know what first did not work on it and how they got it to finally work.  They know how many names they went through before it is the name we all now know. They remember the journey from the project’s infancy to it’s fully matured, marketable status.  When we discuss being an expert in our own lives, please realize this: we have to do the work. There is no way around it. Work has to be done and we have to do it.  We can’t skip that. As a matter of fact, the expert must lead the work. How else is one to know what works and what doesn’t so they can advise others when asked? It’s an important step as in an expert’s maturity as well because when one goes through a journey, it shows the traveler who they are inside. It shows what they’re made of during adversity and it is a priceless lesson and later, testament to their persevering spirit. It shows the expert that if they belief in themselves and the project enough, they can overcome anything thrown their way.

This is the part every expert waits for: the sweetness of the result of their journey.  The part where the success comes and they can revel about the fruits of their labor. The memories of the toil and labor mixed with the emotions that came with it at the time will flood their heads It’s a beautiful moment when the end result is finished and ready for the reveal.  It’s what makes the Superbowls, NBA Finals, World Series, and the Stanley Cup Finals of our lives sweet.  That last bitter, hard won moment is the sweetest moment and possibly the greatest achievement of the entire process. Yet, the expert would not know that if they had avoided the process altogether.  The reward is just as important as the process. Having one without the other could potentially discourage the expert because there would be no reason to continue.

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After learning this, are you now ready to step up and be the expert in your life? Well, before you do, there is another step you may want to know: You must become the student you wished you could have been if someone else led you.  That’s tomorrow’s topic, so stay tuned.

Until next time, enjoy being the guinea pig for now. There will come a day where you won’t be one.