There are many sayings that get thrown at you while growing up and I attached myself to plenty of them. “Outside looking in, Inside looking out” was the theme of much of my bad woe-is-me 8th grade attempts at poetry. “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game”. I swallowed this one like a giant sedative horse pill disguised as a vitamin. Everything I played I played with great dedication and passion but still I cannot help but think that I could have learned my lessons about losing and at the same time gotten a great deal more satisfaction from all I had put into practice had we won more often. “It’s not a fear of failure, it’s a fear of success”. That was a great excuse to not fully be an active participant in my own dreams. That is bullshit.
Who would not choose a path of guaranteed success? Who fears success? Really?
Think about it. If what you want to be is a great parent do you fear being successful at it? We can list a plethora of occupations from the seemingly mundane to those that appear glorious, in what you love to do and I mean really love to do not just sort of like or do because the bills have to be paid somehow… in what you love to do whatever it may be, do you really fear being extraordinary at it?
I do not. If anything I fear finding out that I am simply ordinary at it.
I understand that with success comes great responsibility. But if you could be promised the outcome would you not choose it? Success over Failure? Success over Mediocrity?
Recently a well known professional fighter at the end of training as we all gathered per the norm of how we end our sessions spoke from his heart to those of us just getting started on this path. He said for us to truly enjoy this beginning. That the Portuguese word for amateur means, for the love of (“from French, from Latin amātor lover, from amāre to love”), and how a part of him wishes he was still an amateur because over time as you succeed more will be expected of you and the pressure to perform is immense. Not only will this sport bleed your heart and your soul but it will also destroy your body. You will wake up in pain. You will spend your day in pain. You will go to sleep in pain. And you will probably live another fifty years this way after you retire. He was trying to tell us to truly apreciate the pure love of fighting, the pure beauty of being a competitor before managers and promoters and fans and image consultants tainted our passions. He was trying to warn us that success is not all champagne and parties and glamour. On the contrary, by choosing to be fighters we were choosing a path that would bring us great hardships and suffering in mind, body and soul.
On positive days I feel unstoppable. Nothing will stand in my way. I have what it takes to rise against the challenges that will come my way. But on hard days I sometimes doubt myself. What have I gotten myself into? Really, what insanity have I committed myself to these next X number of years? What if I am not all that good? I feel tears flooding into my sinuses and I push them back down to save for a more private moment.
And then I remember what I have said here and say to myself whenever I begin to see the light coming through behind the veil of darkness… after today there is always tomorrow and with tomorrow there is always new hope.
Back to the gym. Back to work. Back to school. Back to learning. Back to believing in the possibilities. Back to Love.
“Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.” -Katherine Mansfield
Whether I be ordinary or extraordinary... "it is better to know and be disappointed, than to not know and always wonder..." But let us hope that I will not be disappointed.