I've been pushing hard these last few weeks to complete my dream of competing at the U.S. National Adult Figure Skating Competition at the silver level. This dream has been a long time in coming. Many years ago, I was working towards testing for my silver level when I was in a bad car accident. The injuries I sustained took me five years to overcome. During this time I was unable to skate. I returned to skating for a year and a half and finally passed my test only to rupture my Achilles a week later. My dreams of Nationals that year were ended and it took many months to recover. This January, as the deadline for skating nationals approached I decided I wasn't going to compete. I had many reasons (excuses): I hadn't been able to skate consistently for four months due to long work hours; I'd gone through a coaching change; I didn't have a program; it'd been two years since I'd tried to compete; I'd been in a fender-bender that was creating muscular pain in my back and neck.
But then my new coach said to me, "It's not about winning; It's about experiencing the joy of skating." I went home, looked at my list of dreams and realized that my mind was holding me back. Since the beginning of this journey my one and only rule has been, if the opportunity arises I will say, "yes," so I chose to enter.
With only a few weeks to create and master two programs I'm pushing my body hard, but it's my mind that seems to be getting the toughest workout. Every day before I step on the ice, my brain tells me all the reasons I won't be able to do my program: I'll look horrible; I don't have the stamina; I'm tired; If I push too hard I will injure myself. It gets to the point that I want to walk away before I even take to the ice. As I step across the slick surface, doubtful thoughts make me wonder why I'm even trying.
Then I begin to skate. The movement shuts out the "can't" voice as I focus on my body. As I allow myself to go after my goal of being imperfect (see blog explanation), the inner worrier stills and I'm able to enjoy the ride. As soon as I allow the voice of doubt to take over, things begin to go awry: I trip, my body slumps and loses grace, and I end up falling.
I don't know if I'll ever understand why a part of me will decide I'm going to fail before I even begin and will continually tell me that I'm incapable. All I know, is if I'd listened to this voice in the past I would've never completed over fifty of my life goals. If I head it's advice now, I will stay exactly where I am and never reach my greatest heights.
Everyone has doubts, fears, and worries. Those that succeed choose to ignore the naysayer, decide it's okay to be imperfect, and allow themselves to take action. The mind will always imprison you in safety, but the action will show you how much more is possible. For some reason it's a constant battle, but one that I refuse to stop fighting.
photos by James Tennery: www.jtennery.com