On Friday, I was ready to get real and face the music over my utter lack of athleticism. There was a lot of angst, because I’m me and cannot do anything without being over-dramatically angsty. (I think it’s because I’m a musician; us artsy people can have a lot of Feels). I cried a lot, because I wanted it, but my body is my body and it doesn’t have natural talent in the area I want it to.
Everyone has a natural talent for something. Some people are artists. Some are orators, leaders, teachers, linguists…some have the gift of making you feel instantly comfortable being around them, and some people can coax the land to create amazing things (seriously, green thumb people, HOW do you do it?). Me, I’m a singer. Don’t get me wrong; I did not wake up one day and instantly have a four octave range and the ability to sing Bach perfectly on sight. (Hell, I STILL cannot sing Bach perfectly on sight. Bach is hard, y’all). I worked very hard for years to develop my singing ability … but I also know that I have certain genetics that give me a boost.
I do not have the genetics that give a boost when it comes to athletic endeavors. People usually don’t believe me when I say this – because I do sporty things, so therefore, I must be athletic. Here’s my (not a secret at all) secret: None of the sporty things come to me naturally. None of them. Sporty things that take naturally athletic people a few weeks to learn take me years. The sporty things you see me do, I’ve been able to do because I’m stubborn, which results in pushing myself to accomplish things that someone of my age and ability probably shouldn’t be doing. (hello, gymnastics) Sometimes, I think stubbornness is my real talent, because I’ve accomplished things by sheer force of will.
When it comes to sporty things, at the end of the day, without that “something extra,” there is only so far my body will let me go. This is reality. It’s something I’ve known since high school, when – despite years of training hard, year round, at running – my times were never good enough to make the county track meet. The following year, my sister, who is athletically gifted, went out and beat my best time in my race without ever training for it (though in her defense, she did train for other running events). Her time would have qualified her for that meet that was always elusive to me. There is only so much my body can do, regardless of my desire to push myself. I’m not complaining, or putting myself down, or any of that – this is just reality.
Which brings me back to Friday, when I was asking all the questions you ask when you’re at a precipice – why am I doing this? Should I just go back to training for health and face the music that I’m never going to make it beyond the level I’m currently at for competition? does everyone but me know that I’m never going to be extraordinary at my chosen sporty thing? (and are they laughing at me behind my back about it? (okay, the last two are more my crazy talking, but they were in my head, so they bear mentioning….))
Then yesterday happened – thank God – and I had to (figuratively speaking) fight my way through a bracket at a local tournament. It was some of the toughest competition I’ve ever faced where I had a chance at winning. (Obviously, the US Open people are tougher competition, but we don’t really see me as in competition with them. They know I don’t have a prayer of beating them and I know I don’t have a prayer of beating them (yet)). When I was paired against a higher ranking martial artist in round one, I had a moment where I thought “well, shit.” But I’d also had that whole crying/angsting thing the day before, which meant I had a lot of converted angst-to-anger to tap into, and I went into “I am not going down without a fight” mode. And I won. And then I won again in the final (against someone who, athletically, was superior. She had beautiful side kicks. I had anger). It was not an easy win, and it was a rough performance at times, but I won.
I really needed that win.
I might not be athletically gifted, but I HAVE come a long way thanks to amazing coaches and putting in the time. When I sit down and look at the last year, I’ve improved a lot. A LOT. A year ago, at this time, I hadn’t even gone to my first Big Girl Competition yet (that was the first weekend in April). I was a hot mess compared to where I am now. And maybe my Saturday morning poomsae instructor is just being nice when he tells the class I’m a poomsae specialist or that I have aspirations of making a run for the national team someday – or maybe he’s not just being nice. Right now, I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ll ever be national-competition material at the black belt level, but I do know that I’m not ready to say I never will be.
So I made a list. Because I’m Type A and crazy and stubborn, I made a list. It is a list of skills I need to have a realistic shot. I don’t have these skills yet. I am going to get them. It might take years, but I will get them. I’m not ready to give up yet. At the end of this, I still might go down. I know reality. But if I do go down, I’m not going down without a fight.