As a human being it is difficult for me not to tie my own self-worth to that of my accomplishments or in some cases the lack there of. I think that this is very societal especially in the way that the media influences us from an early age with the concept of winners and losers. No one wants to be the person that loses even though it is a fact that someone has to lose no matter how many participation trophies are awarded.
Something that I reflect on is, “what is it that defines me?”
Politics define us by voting demographics. The IRS define us through income brackets. Society defines us by class. Though how is it that we are defining ourselves?
In powerlifting you are defined by strength and your strength was measured through your total (the maximum amount of weight that was lifted). This was the measuring stick that was used to compare one lifter to another to determine who was better or worse. Most lifters would take this a step further and say that is only counts what you did on the platform in competition. This is what would separate a powerlifter from someone who just performs the lifts in the gym. So if you wanted to define yourself as a powerlifter and receive acceptance in the powerlifting community, you at least needed to compete in a competition. This was me. I was the person who defined himself by being strong or stronger than others and today I realize that this was a shallow way to define who I was. Strength fades. It is inevitable that we will all age and become weaker. For me this was a false identity.
So why am I talking about defining myself and my self-worth? This week I am preparing for a competition in Jiu-Jitsu and I am nervous and feeling a myriad of feelings such as anxiety, fear, and uncertainty. If I win, would I define myself Jiu-Jitsu as being good? If I lose does that mean that my Jiu-Jitsu is bad? Why am I taking things so seriously with myself? Why does this one competition mean so much? Why does my performance in competing mean so much to me? Am I defining myself by my performance? Is the value of my Jiu-Jitsu based solely on my ability to beat other people? If I lose does that mean that I have been wasting my time training? If I win does that make me better than everyone else? I honestly do not have the answer to really any of these questions.
Since the last time that I have competed, I have progressed so much in so many ways but the one thing that most people do not know is that I carry of level of uncertainty and fear with me. You could even say that the uncertainty is a fear of the future so maybe I carry or have a lot of fear. Maybe it is just part of being human but the fear if left unchecked can be crippling. Fear can stop me from training. Fear can stop me from competing. Fear can stop me from getting out of my own head. So this week in particular there is a lot of fear that I am feeling. That is one of the reasons that I signed up to compete because I want to overcome that fear.
Will this competition define my Jiu-Jitsu? If I were to place my self-worth on my belt rank, number of stripes or even contest wins then yes it would define my Jiu-Jitsu. To be honest it is difficult not to look at those things to define my skills. I don’t know how many conversations that I have been in with people or how many times I have heard the phrase, “Oh you are only a white belt.”
If the rest of the world is going to categorize and judge me then why should I be doing the same to myself and tying my self-worth to things that I have no control over. Unlike weight lifting, I am competing against real live resisting opponents and not just iron and gravity. Anything can happen and even in competition to where there are 30 Black Belts who are all bad ass, someone has to win and someone has to lose. Though if you are like me then the thought of losing is not a welcomed thought. Maybe this is because I am a competitive person or maybe it is because I have been programmed since being young that winning is good and losing is bad. No one wants to be bad. No one wants to lose.
So after writing all of this mumbo jumbo where does that bring me to? It brings me to two closing points:
- Always do my best.
- My self-worth is not tied to any singular event.
Doing my best has to come first. No matter what putting my best effort into everything that I do is of the utmost importance. When I am able to do my best then I open myself up for the opportunity to learn and to grow and isn’t that what Jiu-Jitsu is all about? It can be about personal growth and learning if I choose for it to be. If I choose to always learn and always do my best (even if my best is not that good comparatively) then I will always make progress and not have to worry about rating my performance because in my heart I know that I did my best.
There will come a day when even the Titans will fall. If I tie my self-worth to that of a singular event then my self-worth will be practically non-existent. I have no control of the situations around me. I can only control my part. What I do with what I have and how I overcome adversity is how I can learn to define who I am in my Jiu-Jitsu and as a person.
It is not the end of the world. Do not let fear cripple you. Dig deep believe in yourself and press on whether you win or lose, you will learn and grow. Continued personal growth is the best thing that anyone can receive from embarking on the journey that is Jiu-Jitsu. Thanks for reading.