In Karate we come face to face with our flaws and weaknesses. We learn how to overcome them, work around them, or to simply put one foot in front of the other in spite of them. Lately, I’ve thrown myself headlong into various opportunities to learn and grow, and often I’ve come up short of expectations – both of my own and of others’ expectations. I’ve been trying, and failing, to be patient with myself. This has spiraled into negative self-talk. Uh oh – a weakness.
I had a bit of trouble coming up with a title for this post. I thought about, “Facing Failure,” “Not Good Enough,” “Missing the Mark,” and even, “The Swamp of Mediocrity.” Oh, the drama! Pity party for me!!! But then I asked myself how I could sum up what’s been going on and give it a positive spin. I realized something important. All these learning experiences that I’ve been stepping into lately are things that, one day, I will be able to tackle with relative ease. But for the time being, I’m not in a place where I can breeze through the particular things I’m taking on now. Not yet. But I will be.
That concept is a game changer.
I thought back to college. That journey wasn’t easy either. There were times when I cried from sheer frustration and heartbreak. I hadn’t graduated yet. I wasn’t as skilled at handling those particular challenges yet. But by my final year, I knew more about handling the challenges that I was facing.
There is a “someday.” I’m not stuck. My development as a karateka, a future sensei (instructor), is progressing, even if it’s at a slower rate than I’d like. Last week a sensei whom I hadn’t seen in over a year asked me, “Isn’t it incredible to have that [black belt] in sight?”
Yes, it is incredible. I admit that lately I’ve lost sight of the sheer wonder of being as close as I am to achieving Shodan (first degree black belt). I’ve been so focused on the areas where I fall short that I’ve forgotten how much I’ve done, how hard I’ve worked to get to where I am today. If my white-belt self from nearly five years ago could see me now, she’d be thrilled. That white belt didn’t make this journey alone, and neither will this i-kyu (“High Brown” belt).
I need to remember is that my sensei(s) care about my development, and the evidence for this is they will tell me where I fall short. Sometimes it’s hard for me to hear that feedback, and even harder for me to improve. But it’s a lot better than never receiving the feedback in the first place.
I wouldn’t be receiving half this feedback if I hadn’t taken on some extra challenging activities in recent weeks. Did you catch that? It was my choice to take up the challenges. So honestly, I brought this on myself. Be that as it may, I think I would be more unhappy with myself if I had said “no” to the opportunities. It’s easier to push past growing pains than it is to live with regrets.
Until I get through the growing pains, I have to be patient with myself and keep going. That’s how I got to where I am in the first place! I should reflect more on the wonder of the journey so far, and look ahead with eager anticipation to what is to come. Lately, I’ve forgotten that part of the purpose of this blog is to help myself and others see the joy in the journey. This isn’t an easy path to walk, but it’s totally worth it.