I was really scared. But that’s why I was there. I was in the tournament because I was scared.
I’ve spent a lot of my life scared of things: Sports. People. The dark. Spiders. Loud noises. I’m tired of being scared. I also have two amazing kids whom I want to grow up confident, brave, courageous; I don’t want them shrinking back in fear and avoiding life’s opportunities because of it.
We recently entered the Oregon Open Taekwondo Tournament. If you’re new to my blog, know that my kids and I have been doing Taekwondo together for the last two years. In an effort to overcome my own fear and to set an example for my children, I signed up to do sparring in this tournament. I’ve been taking sparring classes since last summer simply to prepare for the sparring that will be required for my black belt test next spring. But sparring, (and Taekwondo as a whole) isn’t a natural sport for me. I have to work really hard at it; I often get banged up; my confidence is low; and I’m scared of it. It’s for these reasons I knew I needed to face the challenge in actually competing in sparring. In fact, several months ago I wrote the following in an essay for my blue belt:
“I tell my kids the best way to overcome a fear is to face it head on. That’s why I’ve decided to sign up for sparring in the next tournament. If we face what we’re scared of then we grow, getting stronger, wiser, and more courageous. If we avoid what we fear then the fear wins and we stay the same. I want to grow and I hope my kids will choose the same when they’re faced with a scary challenge.”
To honor my words with honesty and integrity, and to allow myself the opportunity to grow I faced my fear this weekend. I stepped onto the sparring mat with a woman who was bigger, stronger, and more experienced than me. I was terrified! But I was ready to do my best. And I did (see video below). I scored two points against her seven. I fought as hard as I could even though the odds were stacked against me. Every time she knocked me down, I got back up and kept fighting.
What surprised me the most was how mad I got on the mat. I am a pretty docile person–a self-proclaimed pacifist. But I confess I had a growing anger and borderline rage lighting up inside of me that I didn’t know I had. The more she kicked me, the madder I got. I can’t tolerate being attacked. And I imagine I wouldn’t tolerate my family being attacked. While not a familiar emotion, there was something refreshing about the anger–the need to defend–I felt.
I didn’t win the sparring match, but I walked away a total winner–beating my fear, setting an example for my kids, learning about myself, growing in courage, and persevering in a scary challenge.