New experiences teach us new things about ourselves, and there’s always something to learn, something to discover, and room for growth. If you’re feeling stuck or indifferent or uninspired, learn something new, challenge yourself, and get outside of your comfort zone.
Recently I was invited to try Jujitsu, which is something I sort-of knew about but had never seen and definitely never considered for myself. The suggestion to try a class intimidated me, and that was enough to say yes. I thought about my history with running: for years I said I wasn’t a runner, and now I run nearly everyday and love the activity; and I thought about my history with working out: for most of my life I’ve said I don’t like gyms, and now my daily routine is built around when I’ll go to the gym; and I thought about my history with dieting: for most of my life I’ve feared food, hated my body, and had very unhealthy, dysfunctional eating habits, and now I’m the strongest and healthiest I’ve ever been, I love food, and I eat to fuel my body. Over the past few months I’ve felt a little stuck and uninspired, and started looking into dance classes and cooking classes, I signed up for a 48 mile challenge; anything to push me or give me something new to learn. I even started landscaping my backyard, which is an activity I’ve avoided for years with the same silly dialog as most of the things I’ve avoided and now appreciate: “I don’t like it” or “I don’t have time” or “I don’t want to” or “I don’t know how” or “I wont be good at it” or “what if I fail?”. So an invitation to try Jujitsu. . . why not? I can do anything once.
My “I can do anything once” attitude is a new addition to my personality. A couple years ago I decided I was tired of being shy and watching life happen from the sidelines. I felt like everyone else had more fun and more experiences than me. While I don’t recommend comparison as a healthy form of decision-making, I made this shift for me, not to fit-in or please someone else, and it’s blessed my life immensely. My timidness was holding me back from living authentically, so with purposeful bravery I started living outside of my comfort zone. For the most part I don’t need to coach myself to be brave anymore, but I pay close attention to my internal voice and energy, and when necessary I remind myself to relax and be me instead of what I think others are expecting. Change is often a choice and an action, not a feeling. If we wait until we feel ready, that time may never come. I learned in practicing boldness that it’s way more fun when trying something new to actively make friends at the same time, laugh, and ask questions. I laugh at myself ALL THE TIME, I dance without caring how I look because I love how it feels, and when everything in me wants to shrink, pull-back, hide, or shut-down and be silent, I kindly remind myself that my best self is happy, bright, bold, silly, wild, and social.
My choice to fully experience life and live on the other side of my insecurity has been transformative. I have more meaningful conversations with friends and acquaintances, I very quickly feel comfortable in new environments, and it feels great to be true to who I am and who I want to be, instead of the guarded, timid version of me that was quick to conform in an attempt to be what I thought others expected – I allowed myself to sabotage my authenticity for most of my life, and there is a loneliness built-into every experience and decision when living outside of your authenticity. Everyone wants to be seen, cared for, and understood, yet we hide so much of who we are to fit in that we’re left in a permanent state of wanting.
Now back to Jujitsu. I watched some youtube videos before going to my first class so I was mentally prepared, met some super friendly people, and participated fully despite the fact that I was uncomfortable. The mental and physical challenge of trying to escape your opponent was engrossing, and I left feeling powerful. I’ve attended four classes now and I’m quickly learning, feel stronger and more capable each time, and I’m covered in bruises that I’m kinda proud of because they represent courage over comfort. I’m quick, strong, smart, and more capable physically than I expected. As the victim of physical domestic abuse, I’ve lived for many years with the belief that I’m weak and an easy target for violence, and I’ve also wished a million times that I’d fought back and somehow made them pay for what was done to me. I’ve carried a fear of being raped, assaulted, kidnapped or murdered for most of my adult life, and feel fearful and incredibly aware of my surroundings whenever I’m out alone… and I’m out alone daily. I never imagined that there was a sport or practice that could empower me emotionally and physically, while also healing past hurt, addressing unanswered questions and lingering fear, and clearing-out some cobwebs in my heart. I try not to look in the review-mirror very often since I’m not going backwards and can’t change the past, but there are things to unpack from time-to-time and the ability to heal even very old wounds. I don’t know if I would have reacted differently to my abusers had I received this training as a teenager or young adult… maybe they would have known my background and never attempted to hurt me, or maybe I would have had more self-worth and self-confidence and never associated with those people to begin with? That rabbit-hole doesn’t have much value – the person I used to be did her very best with what she knew and understood about herself and the world, she believed in people who didn’t believe in themselves, and she saw the good & potential in people instead of their truth, so while I wasn’t able to physically protect myself in my past lives, there’s a bravery and power in walking away and starting over that is more defining to my story than the tragedies. I’ve learned valuable lessons throughout my journey, and know that I wouldn’t be this version of myself without the combination of heartache and victories that are unique to my story. Does that make everything I’ve gone through okay? No. Would I wish for anyone else to travel my same road? No. But I’ve chosen to rise-up over and over again instead of being a victim, and I’m so thankful for a new opportunity to once again elevate my human existence.