This Sunday, I’ll be competing in my first tournament as a blue belt. It is actually reminding me a bit of my first tournament. On one hand, I don’t think I’m as nervous as I was for it. I haven’t been waking up early all week, or constantly thinking about it. I think that’s because I’ve done a handful of tournaments, and so I know what a tournament is like.
On the other hand, I am still nervous about it. I keep thinking about how it’s a blue belt tournament, and not a white belt. To be fair, even the last white belt tournament I did, I didn’t do great in. I never won a tournament, I’ve never been at the top of the food chain. But now, I feel like I have to start over again.
I’ve had to remind myself several times that I belong in the blue belt division. I might not be the best blue belt, but I am a blue belt. I have the skills and abilities of a blue belt. And when I remind myself of that, it helps calm me down. I don’t feel out of place.
I think part of what is driving that is looking at the guys that are blues at my school, or even looking at guys that got their purples in the last 4 months or so. There seems to be a wide range of skill and ability there. At times, that even seems wider than the gap between brand new white and a 4 stripe white belt.
I’ll admit it, there have been times in thinking about this, that I’ve been a little scared. But then again, that’s part of why I compete. Avoiding competition because I’m scared or nervous is only going to make it worse in the future. It’s like quitting, if you quit something it’s easier to quit something else in the future. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy competing. I enjoy the tournaments. If I go watch a tournament, I picture myself out there competing. So it’s not that I’m forcing myself against my will to go compete. Instead, it’s more of a struggle of 2 people inside of me. The part of me that wants to compete and learn and get better. And the part of me that doesn’t want to give someone the chance to break my arm.
I compete because it’s fun.
I compete to see how I’m doing compared to other people of similar age, weight and skill.
I compete to challenge myself.
I compete to grow and get better.
All that said, it can still be a nerve-wracking experience.