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Haha maybe the first panel is a little mean to Marek? Like taking advantage of his sincerity a bit.
I'm pretty sure this convo was partly inspired by my competitive weight training. Around this time I got a pep talk from my lifting coach Paulie about feeling demoralized right before a breakthrough. So maybe this comic was about watching my social groups shift, or maybe it was about wishing I could beef up my 1-rep squat max.