I would like to let you in on a little dark secret of mine.
I am a big “scaredy cat.“ There, I have said it.
It must stem from my very difficult childhood. My stepmother made sure that my life was a living hell, and my classmates and school teachers never made it any easier. I was always malnourished and underweight, with my body and face full of bruises at all times – and my ego even more bruised and scarred than my body while nobody ever cared why it was so.
Everyday was a battle.
I finally started “living” again when I finally left home at the tender age of fifteen to attend a boarding school … or so I thought. That, however, was only the beginning of a new battle for me, especially a mental one.
When I was little, my body was so fragile and awkward that I was never able to perform any physical activities like a normal child. I still remember the pain in my heart to see everyone else feeling the joy and fun running around the field – as I watched from the sideline. What was worse, everyone told me that I would never be one of them … my stepmother even told me that I was not a normal human being … and I believed them all.
As you may be able to imagine, what was even more fragile than my body from Day One was my mind. Sadly, even to this day, my mind remains to be frail and weak. Taekwondo has certainly helped in my mental growth and its strength, and I have reached a height that I definitely could not have without Taekwondo. However, the road ahead still looks long and steep.
One of the problems I have stems from the fact that I have survived various sorts of abuse by absorbing it. Surprisingly, that is what I do to this very day. I still remember my early days in Taekwondo, when I refused to fight in order to hide my fear. I was always afraid of facing anyone who might want to hurt me. I was always afraid of violence aimed toward me. I could not or even try to understand how someone can laugh and have a friendly conversation with me and try to kill me the next second … or so it felt like. So I would take the kicks and not kick back, “absorbing the abuse.” At another time, I have gone through a tournament-style sparring class at school and faced a guy with a much lower rank than I had at the time. The result was rather pathetic – I was kicked hard in the first few seconds and I then “decided” that I could not win. I then also decided to get it over with by “taking the abuse.” I basically gave up, to everyone’s surprise.
That is the scaredy cat at its best, and a trait of mine I hate the most.
I am also an all-or-nothing perfectionist. I have such a pride that Iwould rather not show embarrassing moments to anyone. In my mind, trying hard at something and failing qualifies as “embarrassing” … not to mention the fact that would disappoint those who have strange enough taste to look up to me.
Since I have become a black belt, pressure in training was mounting. Taekwondo was at one point no longer a stress-relieving activity to me because of the responsibility to uphold a certain degree of everything: good techniques, physical and mental strength … and most of all, live up to everyone’s expectations. This comes with an added expectation of my own to maintain certain pride and dignity in everything that I do. In fact, because of this last part, going to school had actually become stressful for me. I would get cramps, stomachache and nausea just because it was time to go training. I was being crushed by my own expectations.
There was a time when I tried to train while in process of overcoming a winter depression. I tried to perform various techniques while my mind refused to cooperate. Fighting fatigue, lack of motivation and energy, I really tried … and I failed. I cried on the training floor because I could not meet my own expectations. I was killing my Taekwondo career with my mental weaknesses.
So, one wise man said one day: “Only thing that you cannot seem to beat is your inner fear. I think you should face it head-on.”
So I did.
That was only some of the battles I have been through, and continue to battle since then. Given an opportunity, I would fight my fear and urge to “absorb the abuse” by physically fighting back. The said wise man seems to be very proud of me, which counts a lot.
People at LVTKD somehow seem to think that I am a strong girl, but those few who know my true nature would know that it is not necessarily true. I am still in process of strengthening both my mind and body … and although there have been times when I was successful in fights against the demon within, there still are a lot more fights to come … and I have to get ready.
I will most certainly use the strength Taekwondo has given me in these fights. I can swear that.
(This was my thesis for the Second Degree Black Belt Testing.)