Through the Fire

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Through the Fire

I still remember my first day walking into a martial arts school- the same one I train and teach at 15 years later. At just five years old, i was possibly more shy than any kid I have ever met. I remember hiding behind my Dad's leg, unsure of what to think about the class going on in front of me. The other kids, much bigger and older than me, were punching, kicking and yelling, and it was all very intimidating.

As I look back at it now, that was the first time I realized that I was an introvert at heart. I didn't care to meet or get to know the other kids, and as I got older, that didnt change. I continued to be afraid to do something as simple as introduce myself to someone new. my words would fumble, and I would beat myself up for saying the wrong thing. Social interaction became very much a chore.

"I continued to let myself be intimidated by people who I perceived to be superior in some way... "

With my martial arts training came continued confidence and comfortability around other kids, but I continued to let myself be intimidated by people who I perceived to be superior in some way, whether it was a more popular school or classmate, an adult, or a better athlete. This fear of saying the wrong thing caused me to miss out on friendships, activities, and important opportunities. By continually keeping to my comfort zone, I was refusing to let myself grow as a person and as a leader.

 I had always wanted to teach martial arts, because of a love for the arts and concepts we teach. But when I first started teaching classes, it was like being thrown into a fire! The constant stress of making sure that the class stays high energy, and that the kids are getting the most out of the drills, combined with the pressure of all the parents and kids watching your every move- it felt like they were just waiting for me to make a mistake. I was coaching and learning how to coach almost every day of the week, and pressure was constantly being applied to me. It was tightening my speaking and teaching skills. I became a better coach every week, until it became second nature to me.

"Once I had faced this fear, I felt a huge relief. I could now accomplish anything."

Eventually, I realized something extremely important. If I could be fearless on the mat, I could do the same in everyday life. I began striving to be the first to introduce myself to someone new. It became my personal mission to get to know the people in my everyday life. Whether it was a student, a peer, or an authority figure, I found that my life significantly improved every time I would make a personal connection with someone. Once I had faced this fear, I felt a huge relief. I could now accomplish anything. Because of the pressure applied to me in order to push me out of my comfort zone, I was changed. While still an introvert at heart, I know how to get past my fears and be who people need me to be. My life is now full of people who will continue to push me to become a stronger person. So will you join me? Will you face your fears and come out stronger for it?