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Fight the Good Fight

Lately I’ve been working on expanding my growth mindset, and I’ll be honest - it’s much harder than I originally anticipated! One of the big reasons for this undertaking is my goal of being one of the first women to make the USA Women’s team and compete in the 2017 Battle of the Nations tournament in Medieval Armored Combat. Yes, it’s a real sport. No, it’s not LARPing. Think real life Game of Thrones and you’re on the right track. It’s weird and wonderful and one of the toughest physical tests I’ve ever undertaken.

Competitive sports have a way of growing individuals unlike anything else. Even if you don’t participate in competitive sports, there are life-lessons that can be applied to any area. Here are a few I’ve discovered this past year:

Trust the Process

This last year I’ve put in more work than ever towards my personal goals. I’ve always wanted to be an athlete, and this year I fully committed myself to that dream. I’ve always prided myself on digging deep and having grit, but this year has tested everything I’ve ever known about the work, consistency, and death-to- self that it takes to reach such a goal.

It’s been worth every second.

However, I’d by lying if I said it was enjoyable. I had to shrink my focus down and parse my time, which meant saying no to lots of fun things. But it opened the door to so many other wonderful opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t worked for my goals.

I remember feeling so disheartened early last year when I wasn’t progressing as quickly as I had wanted, and my mentor reminded me that all athletes feel that way during their careers. I have been involved in Medieval Armored Combat for over two years now, but it wasn’t until I gave everything I had to my training that I began to see progress (and I would argue that it took about six months of training before I really moved forward).

Growth is funny that way. We can put in the effort and time, but we’re not guaranteed results in conjunction to our personal timeline. We can only trust the process and keep pushing forward. This is true for so many things in life; our timeline is not guaranteed, but growth is.

Focus On You

Any Hamilton fans in the house? (I know, silly question!) When Burr sings “I am the one thing in life I can control,” I get chills. Every. Time.

So often I’ve wasted time and energy worrying about what my teammates and competitors are doing in the sport. Are they training harder than me? Does this come easier to them? Do they even like me? This type of thinking is harmful on so many levels.

First, it gives others power over my emotions. Not literally, but by focusing on things I have zero control over, I’m not paying attention to my own progress. I’m missing out on chances to work harder.

Second, I believe that it only serves to grow insecurities and divide people. I don’t have any evidence for this other than my own journey, but any time I focus on someone else, I start to draw away from this loving, encouraging group. I become less-inclined to encourage others and celebrate their success.

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s such a harmful approach. My goal in life is to encourage other women and help them reach their own goals - not tear them down because I felt insecure.

The more I focus on what I need to do and take care of myself, the more emotional energy I have to give to the women around me. I’m not perfect at this by any means, and I still struggle sometimes, but resisting the urge to dwell on the practices of others has been a freeing choice.

Don’t Give Up

In September I was close to giving up on my dreams in this sport. I was feeling all sorts of discouraged, and I’d been met with some setbacks that were awful to say the least, but I knew in my gut that I had to give myself one more shot at my goals.

I bought a plane ticket to the next tournament and started moving forward before I could talk myself out of the trip. Being a fan of podcasts, I spent the weeks leading up to the event listening obsessively to some experts on growth mindset. One concept in particular stood out was the idea that we often give up right before a big step forward. We give up too soon.

Now, I think most of us know when it’s time to walk away from unhealthy pursuits, but how many times have I walked away and missed out on something rewarding? The answer is “too often.” Sometimes we have to give even when it hurts, if even just to know the depths of our strength.

The great thing is, those experts were right. I went to the event, had an amazing time, met some amazing people, and learned so much. If I hadn’t gone I would have always wondered what would have happened. It would have felt a lot like regret.

Don’t let your fears stop you from pushing through the valleys. Keep going and allow the journey to change you and push you forward.

One thing I’d like to point out is that I wouldn’t be where I’m at without the support of strong women. This is a blossoming sport, and women are still few and far between, so the support I’ve received from them is invaluable. They are the reason I keep coming back for more. These fierce warrior women teach me more about love and what it means to fight than anything else.

When women support each other, powerful changes take place. Let’s all continue to seek out opportunities to support one another in this new year. Thanks for reading.

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