Being Brave: Being a Little Bit Terrified

Being Brave: Being a Little Bit Terrified by Mad Wellness3 – 2 – 1 – Go! Balls. It makes me anxious just to type that business out on my screen. But, it also makes me smile a bit (just a bit) after doing the Turkey Challenge this weekend. I have had a big 72 hours. I competed in my first solo crossfit competition, worked out 5 times (that was in the first 48 hrs,) made my abs sore from yelling so much at other people working out, baked 5 batches of paleo baked goods, and chopped off all of my hair. Yep, I’ve been busy.

Back in September I had a, “f*ck it” moment, and signed up to compete as an individual at the Turkey Challenge at MBS Crossfit. To be honest, I had been nervous about it ever since signing up – it just hovered in the back of my mind. Sure, I was excited, but mostly I was terrified. Why was I so freaked out? Here are the fluffy reasons – the reasons that are easy to admit: it was going to be hard. I’m a disaster zone at double unders (and they are almost always in competitions – coincidentally there was something called a “killer rope” instead which I am also very much not awesome at in the least.) And it was the first time I would ever do crossfit in a “public arena” - all valid, normal reasons that are both easy to say out loud and easy to dismiss. They are things that can and do come up in normal conversation and nothing gets weird – none of the over-share experience. But, if I were to say that those were the only reasons why I was scared to compete I would be over simplifying and would be giving myself too much credit. I was scared to compete because I was scared I would fail. To be honest, I’m not even sure if I knew what failing meant, but I was terrified that it would happen.

I have always been sort of a scared person. I think that is why I like control, or like to feel in control. I like to know what is coming so that I can be fully prepared and I don’t like to start something unless I’m pretty freaking sure about the outcome. I am very self-aware, or self-conscious depending on which way you want to spin it, and because I spend so much time wrapped up in my own head, failure is a palpable thing. I don’t project, I internalize, and thus when I fail at something, be it a relationship, a workout, or a friendship it becomes the defining thread of my thoughts. Well, that is a pretty sucky way to live your life. Seriously Maddie, what have you been thinking for the last 24 years!

The last few years of my life have been somewhat ironic. I have struggled with feeling solid in my body for most of my life. I'm not necessarily a natural athlete and had to fight tooth and nail to get a varsity spot during my rowing career. And I am a big time introvert. Somehow when I add those things together, I wouldn’t necessarily come out with coach as the number 1 career choice: rocking it solo in the front of a large group of people with the goal to get them to feel powerful in everything that they do. But you know what, those are the elements of myself that I think make me a good coach – they allow me to really know what struggling through a workout or what struggling with one’s body actually means and feels like. This weekend though presented a slight crack in that reasoning. Sure, those are the elements that have allowed me to connect with my students, that have laid the foundation for my coaching, but they are also things that I have allowed myself to hide behind in my own life. It is easy to hide behind labels like “humility” and “introversion,” but it’s a little harder to sit comfortably behind “fear,” and when I am honest with myself, the latter is much more descriptive.

Two years ago I signed up for my first teacher training because I realized the only reason I was hesitating was because I was afraid. I signed up for the Turkey Challenge back in September for the same reason: it scared me. And yep, I chopped my hair off on Monday because I didn’t think that I could do it. What I have realized over the last few days (a slow accumulation of thoughts over the last few months) is that I am not the woman I was upon graduating high school or college. I have let both those times in my life define me for a really long time. I have allowed myself to sit comfortably in the labels those two periods presented. But all of a sudden, those aren’t the labels that I want defining me anymore. I don’t want to be dichotomous – to have two very different selves - teaching me and real me. Of course I don’t want to be an over-confident asshole, but I don’t want to be scared either.

I went into this weekend with the “just see what happens” mindset: totally not a bad way to enter a competition. But, the Maddie translation of that angle: don’t hope for too much so you won’t be disappointed. Well, one of my good friends pointed out to be Saturday night that I was being an idiot. I was sitting in 5th and he told me to fight for 3rd – to commit to wanting to be on the podium. And you know what, I did want to podium, I wanted to fight to get there. If it didn’t happen, who cares, but I wanted to take the chance to want it. I finished 4th. I hit myself repeatedly in the back of the head with the “killer rope,” I no-repped more burpees on the last workout than I would like to admit, and I left a happy little trail of blood through the chipper workout after ripping my hand in the 2nd station. Basically, I did all those things I was afraid of doing – those little things that fall under the guise of failing – but that stuff just doesn’t matter when you laugh at your inability to jump rope and keep going, or when you have a huge group of people behind you, cheering for you and supporting you through the good and the bad reps. It doesn’t matter if you fuck up – that’s not failing. It matters how you respond to fucking up. Do you let it consume you, or do you get over it, pick up that damn rope and keep moving?

This weekend I learned that I am tougher than I think I am. Also, that I am lucky enough to be surrounded by people who have known that about me all along. I spent most of Monday morning trying to figure out what I had learned from the weekend’s festivities. I didn’t figure it out until I gave the go ahead to chop off my hair. I’m over being freaked out. I’m over being two separate people. I’m over feeling like that socially awkward kid (even though I'm determined it adds to my charm.) And I’m over feeling like I’m not good enough to be in a relationship. Of course those things are part of my fabric, they are not just going to disappear, but they don’t get to define me. I’m not saying that I’m fearless all of a sudden. I’m not. But what I’ve realized is that being brave, that being strong isn’t about being fearless. It’s about saying, “fuck it” and doing those things that make you scared anyways. It’s about wanting something huge, something quite possibly out of reach, but wanting it all the same and going after it. So, here are the things that I want: I want to be a phenomenal coach, I want to change people’s lives, I want to have epic – let’s go with romantic comedy over the Anna Karenina type experience  – love, and I want to be happy – like really happy. I know those things aren’t going to appear in the way that I think they will, but I’m going to go after them like a freaking champ. I’m going to take that risk. I am going to “fail.” And I am going to love it.

P.S. Thank you to everyone at Verve for being my team, for letting me yell at all of you during the rowing, and for making this weekend universally kick butt. You all are amazing. FRCF and York Street - you guys rock, but duh! Congrats to all of the athletes that competed this weekend and thank you to everyone who came out to watch them kick the 2012 Turkey Challenge in the pants.

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