Humble beginnings

When I first started Bjj, it was by accident. I didn’t really want to go, but my boyfriend at the time insisted. It took him about a month of nagging to finally break me down and I went. I couldn’t refuse as he’d made me pinkie promise not to back out. I strive to be an honourable person (I am, in theory) and I couldn’t break that promise.

My first day was terrifying, I was the only girl in the room with guys who’d been in the sport for years I felt judged immediately; this was most definitely the hardest part. Despite my better judgement, I participated, my brain kept telling me to just leave, but I was already there, I had to do something, so I did. I was clunky and I was awkward, I made every mistake you could imagine. But, I didn’t stop. I didn’t stop when my muscles burned and my brain cried for me to “just give up”, I didn’t stop when I almost threw up from exhaustion after a warm up that everyone else seemed to be perfectly fine doing. I couldn’t. I’d given up nearly everything I’d ever started. School, I quit way too early. Jobs, if I didn’t like them I left them. Hobbies, I started and stopped more than I could count, before I even had a chance to know if I was any good at them. This was different, I didn’t know it at the time, but this would become one of the few things I would stick to, the sport and I just clicked, it became my passion, my fixation, because despite the trial of my first day, I’d fallen in love.

That’s not to say the next few times were any easier, I still had a shot of adrenaline rush through me every time I thought of going back. I dreaded it, didn’t want to go, I mean I did, but I didn’t. I couldn’t explain it to myself at the time, but now, I think I know why. It was because the fear was still there, it doesn’t take one class, or two, or even a dozen to make that fear go away, that’s not how it works, because you can’t just make it go away. You have to get up and chase it away.

It is not an easy feat, in fact it’s downright difficult; pushing yourself day after day, week after week hoping that one day it’ll just stop. It takes time, and many will choose to succumb to it, than to work to overcome it, but you can, eventually. You won’t even notice it at first, but slowly and ever so surely the fear begins to fade, and in its place, at least for me there was joy and an eagerness for better things.

Bjj gave me my life back, I was stagnating, succumbing to a life of utter mediocrity. Wanted nothing for myself only to be left alone. To be at peace with my solitude. But Bjj gave me a reason to leave my room, something to look forward to going outside for. I still require large amounts of alone time, but for the first time in a long time I have something I want to do. Not only that, but Bjj gave me a family, much bigger than I was expecting. I already come from a big family, I suppose that lends itself to the need for space, but my Bjj family… there are times I never want to leave them.

It seems weird to me now that I would ever have any hesitation to try Bjj, it seems weird to me now that I would ever hesitate to try anything, but I did. I never tried anything because, and at least I know it now, I was afraid. I feared rejection, I feared laughter, I feared, not being good enough. Which is stupid because unless you are some sort of wizard prodigy, or the matrix is real and we can just download being awesome at stuff directly into our brains. You’re not going to be good on your first try. In fact you’re going to be bad, really bad. And when you mess up, you’ll probably be laughed at, you’ll probably be told you suck. But in the same breath you’ll be told, it’s okay, because we all suck at times. But that’s why we’re here, to help you get better. Where there is failure, there is reassurance that you can only get better.

These are the moments I live for now. They hurt like hell at the time (no-one like to hear they’re bad at something), but when the sting is gone, you know what it is you’ve to strive for. If you work for it, and put a little effort into it, everything becomes that little bit easier. Life outside becomes that little bit easier, because you start to realise, it’s the same. If something isn’t working in your game, you root it out and you fix it. If something isn’t working in your everyday life, you root it out and fix it. And it doesn’t have to be Bjj that makes you feel this way, I mean it helps, but really, it’s finding the thing you’re passionate about. Discovering who you are through trial and error, becoming who you were supposed to be through a craft, or hobby or job that brings out the joy in you.

I’m not really sure what I wanted to say with this piece. I just know that there are many people out there, who have given up on ever achieving the things they wanted because they feel, not ready or too old and it’s passed them. Some think they’re not good enough, not smart enough, or are simply afraid to even try.

We’re all afraid, everyone. Some hide it better than others, but don’t be fooled. Trying new things is scary, singing in front of people you’ve never met is scary, showing off you artwork for critique is scary, so is getting married, teaching a class, learning to drive, meeting new people, asking someone out, and getting top mounted every time you roll (especially when you’re out weighed by roughly 20 kg/40 pounds). It’s all bloody horrific. But, if everyone let the fear of doing these things dictate them. Nobody would be doing anything. As we’ve seen, people blissfully sing all the time, in front of crowds of thousands, art is one of our most valued assets, it brings to life our past and will hopefully, tell our story to the future. And you can learn to escape being mounted, with practice. The other things are still horrific to me, but hey other people still do them, they can’t be all bad, right? And maybe someday I’ll try some of them too.

It may take time, and it may take effort, but if you take the first step, and continue on the path you will eventually be lead to what you will see, is your own personal greatness.

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