I grit my teeth and hit “publish” and the familiar, yet never an easier sensation of excitement and anxiety consumes me. It’s a feeling similar to entering the ring to fight. I don’t fight anymore, I retired in 2011 from fighting Muay Thai, but writing, something I have done all my life is a constant reminder of what I love about fighting.
Fear. We all have it. Fear will never completely disappear. We just have to find a way to own it, to cut through its thick air with a knife.
My fighter Emily fought last weekend. We had just finished the last round of pad work to warm her up. She was greased up and ready to go, the first glistening sweat on her brow, her second wind getting ramped up, her mouth dry and her eyes full of feeling.
As I talked her through some mental visualization techniques to keep her energy focused, I was reminded of what has been missing in my life these past few months: fear; or more specifically stepping through fear.
Before fighting writing was my way to make myself vulnerable and face my fears, to put them out there for public scrutiny, to progress as a human being and discover who I am. When I found Muay Thai in 2002, I made a concrete decision to put writing on the backburner and give fighting a real shot. For ten years I did that and now, retired from the hurt game, I return to writing.
I have been working in solitary on a book, but I realized after last weekend while coaching my team, that is not enough. It may be years before I publish it and I need some more immediate release. For me, writing has always been the process of externalizing my experience, putting my fears out there, making my journey public, so that I can grow and so that maybe others can be inspired and learn from my experiences. I write in solitude, but it’s the public component of writing that makes it real for me.
Fighting was a way for me to work through that same path in a very visceral and necessary way for my younger self, but now that that time has passed for me, I miss the vulnerability and fear facing the process of it. In truth, I am not growing as much as I would like.
So, I return to my first love, writing. I return to laying myself open with words, for you, for the world to love me, hate me, criticize me, or worst not even care. It is the same as fighting. When fighters fight we open ourselves up to the possibility that we may lose. We can try our hardest, we can train our body to its limits, we can get in there and honestly give the best of ourselves, leaving it all in the ring… but there is always the possibility that that is not enough, that the other person is better than us, that we failed at the goal. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but I did it over 20 times. Every time I looked across the ring at a girl that I knew wanted to kick my ass, I faced that possibility head on and used mental strength to push, though. It is that harsh challenge over and over that shaped me as a person. It made me realize that risk is a way to grow.
With writing, I take a very similar mental passage. My words are permanent, just as the W or L on my record is, I can’t take it back. I am putting myself out there in the public eye. I am allowing myself to be vulnerable. Some people will like what I have to say, others won’t, but it is this reality that gives me the reward. I cut through my fear with a knife each time I hit “publish,” and each time I do I discover something about myself, each time I grow, and for that I am grateful.
You will be hearing more from me in the coming weeks; I will be launching a new personal site and moving my blog, as well as re-branding my personal site.
I know I will grow so much writing more and I hope that I will help and inspire others to also walk through their fears, no matter what form that takes: in the gym, in the ring, in a relationship, in the office or on paper – the journey may look different, but inside we are all struggling with similar fears.