A few years ago I started competing in Brazilian Jiujitsu, even in spite of the challenges with having cerebral palsy. All of my competition has been abled-bodied, okay, not all I have competed against other adaptive grapplers. And I’m not sure which one fits me better.
Regardless, the point of this entry, is to explain a revelation that has dawned on me. I have competition anxiety. Many, many athletes struggle in this way regardless of what sport they play. They might do well in practice, but they choke under the pressure of competition, they freeze and forget the training that has led to this moment.
Yep, that’s me.
I want to go out on the mats and win, I don’t know anyone that enjoys losing. But the reality is that I have far more losses than I do victories. And that often weighs me down, because when I see so many team mates winning and bringing home medals and then there’s me, the guy that keeps on loosing. Who’s to blame for that? Nobody else but me.
Though I do know another adaptive grappler that has lost damn near ninety times, and only won one match. That we cripple most (yes, I used the C word) but for this guy, he just kept going out there and competing, loss after loss. Until finally, he scored a W for the win column. This has been my deepest motivation, this is allowing me to have further courage to face my fears.
Fear of defeat yet again, fear of not making my instructors and team mates down… Fear… Fear… Fear. But like I said, that’s why I keep facing this thing. That’s why I let my chest tighten and heart thumb like a dub step song. I know my mind won’t stop racing anytime soon, so why stop competing? God only knows what could happen any given moment. It’s my way of telling the fear and anxiety to @@@@ off, it doesn’t own my life.
Most people wouldn’t have the courage to go out there and loose over and over. I do, for the simple reason that my losses have taught me far more. Don’t get me wrong though, that taste of victory is so amazingly sweet. But soon, everyone is brought back to the reality of being humbled to their knees. And for me, many lessons have come from there and I’m okay.
Embrace the paralyzing anxiety. Embrace the fear and looping thoughts in your head, they’ll always be there (though probably not as bad) compete anyway, fight anyway. You’ll be better because of it.