You may or may not know that in June 2015 I started taking Taekwondo. At the suggestion of a friend, I decided to look into it, so I did a trial class and signed up for a trial month, and then signed on for a contract, eventually changing that into the “Black Belt Program” – which is a set fee that covers your classes up to when you get your black belt, no matter how long it takes. You still pay for your tests and stuff, but classes are covered.
I finished paying my program off this summer.
I started off well – going to class every chance I got, finding my new forms on youtube and studying them. Doing pretty much everything but sparring. I didn’t like sparring. But everything else? Surprisingly I found that I loved it.
I set Black Belt as my goal and made a vision board. I knew the basic time frame for testing – the time required between a Black Stripe test and a Double Black Stripe test and a Black Belt test. And I wrote in little numbers 12/2018. My stretch goal for testing.
And I’ve been on track. Even going to sparring because I have to spar for the test.
Until the summer.
I didn’t go to class as much. And getting back into it in the fall has been mentally challenging. All kinds of reasons. It’s fine tuning now – I don’t mind that with forms because I do like forms…but the other stuff? Sometimes it’s fun, but others it’s not. But I kept pushing myself because I had a goal and the Master at the dojang has his idea of my timetable, and I’ve talked about it… Hell, I even have a friend who is coming from Chicago and selected the date specifically because of the test.
I couldn’t let everyone down, right? I couldn’t deviate from that plan, right?
And so I’ve been forcing myself to go – I haven’t always been successful, but the times I have, the decision (and sometimes even the trip on the subway) hasn’t been tear-free. The spark feels like it’s gone out.
I’ve felt so alone in this.
Finally yesterday I confessed to my friend that knowing he was coming was really the primary reason I was making myself go – that I just wasn’t feeling it right now. He reassured me that coming out here to see NYC and see a show with his daughter and spend some time with me is enough. That he doesn’t want me to be miserable.
Still, I went last night and made it through class. I couldn’t really move today, but I made it through.
And yet I still didn’t have that feeling I used to after class. I just felt tired.
I’m reading “Rising Strong” by Brené Brown right now, and I think I can definitively say I’m in Act 2 with this Taekwondo thing. But naming it doesn’t make it any easier – just gives it a name.
Another friend suggested talking with others at the dojang about it. I’m not ready to talk to Master yet, but I did reach out to a couple of adult black belts (who are also instructors) to see if this struggle is normal.
They both assured me that it is. One even said she’s surprised I haven’t gotten burned out and needed a break before now. Training is cyclical. It ebbs and flows. It’s “stupid hard” no matter what – but when you’re not feeling it, it’s even harder.
I’ve barely been able to sit – or more specifically transition from standing to sitting or sitting to standing after all the squats we did in class last night, and I’ve had a kinda dull headache (I call them pseudo-migraines because they hang out for a while, but the pseudo because they are not the “curl up in a dark, quiet room” debilitating kind) for a couple of days, so I decided to give myself the night off. I will try to go to sparring (ugh, but must be done) tomorrow.
And I’m holding off on paying my test fee until mid-November. I’ll go to class and see if the spark gets back. But if I’m not feeling it, I’m not going to put myself in the position of half-assing the test. I wouldn’t feel good about it, and it wouldn’t be a good test.
And I’ve been reassured that it won’t be the end of the world if I don’t test in December. I’m only human.
It’s what I would tell someone else if they were talking to me. But it’s so hard to be as forgiving to myself.
Like my friend said, “How fucked up is that?”
So, I don’t have any clear answers yet. Just permission to give myself permission to be kind to myself and not force myself into a box I may not be ready for.
I’m confident that the time will come when I’m ready physically AND mentally. It just may not be December.
And that’s ok. I’m only human.