While training in marital arts recently, I was kicked in the face on the bridge of my nose. Startled—even though my teacher had reminded me twice to protect my face—I blinked away a few tears and touched my fingers to the bottom of my nose, certain there would be blood. There wasn’t, and while it did smart a bit, within a few minutes I was actually happy it happened.
No, I don’t particularly like pain. No, I’m not interested in an audition for a Fifty Shades of Gray or any of the sequels. No, I am not a badass and, even after training for 5+ years, will always refer to myself as a princess not a warrior.
So why did I like it? Because I survived something I had been absolutely terrified of—and it wasn’t that bad.
When I first started to train, I never thought I’d be anything but a white belt. I was in terrible shape, and since I was training with students who were my children’s age or younger, I didn’t expect to get too far. I started learning the basic techniques and forms, but when I watched others spar, it absolutely terrified me. The reason? I get bad headaches and didn’t want to get kicked in the head!
You might wonder why, two weeks before my 50th birthday, I would even consider martial arts. Aside from picturing myself taking over for Jennifer Garner in an episode of Alias, I was afraid if I didn’t do something to get in shape and learn some self-defense, I might lose the confidence to get out more and try new things as I got older. I’m a bit of a hermit, and I didn’t want to become one of those old ladies found dead in her house surrounded by cats (especially since I’m not the biggest fan of cats).
Yes, I realize martial arts is a contact sport. I admit for a while, I saw it within the framework of yoga—an ancient tradition with a mind/body/spirit connection. It is…but it’s not. My friends have sported some gnarly bruises on their cheeks and eyes from being kicked inadvertently. I was terrified of this happening to me, not for vanity reasons but because I was afraid of getting hurt. I want to earn my black belt, and that means sparring—and overcoming my fear of it.
Our fears—even the legitimate ones—can hold us back. I’ve let my fears keep me from experiencing all kinds of things. Sometimes we even let our fears keep us from developing the skills we need to move forward and overcome our self-limiting beliefs. Instead, now I face the challenge with as much skill and grace as I can.
For a few years, I’ve wondered how I could ever move past this fear. Then all of a sudden I did. While I hope I never, ever get kicked in the face again—and I certainly plan to focus more on protecting my face—if I do, I know now that I can survive it. Enjoy it? Never! Overcome a fear and gain more self-confidence? Absolutely! And so can you.
How do you overcome your fears and challenges?