Getting back into competitive form was no simple, or easy task.
As you know, it took me about two years to find my way back to the court, and back in a position where I am able to compete. What I expected to happen was that I would experience some doubt or shakiness in how my body would adapt to gradually increasing load during workouts. I expected to be really rusty when testing my skills out again, and having to relearn sport specific movement patterns. I expected to be out of shape, and have to work to find a base cardio level again. My fav. But what I did not expect was that I could be my own worst enemy after all of that work when I finally had the chance to compete again.
I believe that one of my strengths as an athlete that guided me through high school, University and led me to the likes of national team and pro was my ability to have this unwavering confidence in myself. Some might call it cockiness, but I always knew that when my back was against the wall that I could rely on myself, that I could pull myself out of trouble, and find a way to get things done. Sure, there were good days and bad days in and amongst training and competing, but the inherent feeling that I was good enough and the belief that I would be okay through push back was ever and always present.
Last year as I started to get back into high level sport, that aspect of my psyche, that trait that got me from A to B seemed to be dormant after a two year slumber. After practices I would feel this deep feeling in my gut that I was horrible, not improving, and would never be a fraction of who I was before. I found myself using my injury as a crutch and that if I didn’t perform well, heck it was okay because I was still coming back from this traumatic thing and no-one expects me to be doing more than I am. In competition I would feel these nerves like never before, and then approach matches with a mindset that it was enough just to be there and that I didn’t care about results when deep down I really did.
But the problem was, and still is to a degree, that I expect myself to be great. I’ve always demanded the best from myself. To be the best, to reach that next level and continually push my individual boundaries. And yet I now have these limits. Limits of what my body can physically do, and hardest to conquer, these limits that my mind had begun to create. It still feels a little fragmented. Caught between being okay with being less than my best, and not okay with underperforming when I know I’m fully capable. Hungry for more. Yet, this small seed of doubt, or fear that’s kept me from fully putting myself out there.
What a great defence mechanism.
Shielding myself from pain and disappointment by downplaying my fears and doubts internally and externally.
Our minds are powerful tools.
I struggled to find how to overcome that - how to demand excellence from myself while realizing that I’m going to fail. A lot. More than I’ve ever failed before. That things are going to be hard, harder than they were pre injured body. That I’m never going to be who I was, and that I need to learn how to be okay with who I am. Though I can’t change my physical stature, or physical abilities, I can control my thoughts, and actions, and intent. After all this was the challenge that I sought for myself - to comeback from injury, and learn a new sport doing so.
How can you compete if you don’t fully believe that you can?
How can you push the limits of others if you struggle to push your own?
How can you learn to win, if I don’t give yourself the freedom to lose?
I had to revisit a lesson that I thought I had mastered early on because I heard it almost every day in the gym. Patience. “Patience is a virtue” my coach would say, and as a kid I would nod my head like yeah, yeah I got this patience thing, whatever. But, being patient is hard. I learned that through rehab. Exhibiting patience is hard. I learned that by being overseas counting down the days until I was able to go home. Mastering patience - now that’s a real doozy.
Letting go of expectations was hard. Showing up to the gym, or practice and being humbled on the daily is hard. But, getting caught up in the end result of what I want has only slowed me down. Surrendering to my own fears and being patient with my development that’s the nitty gritty stuff of gold, and I’m fighting to find that everyday.
To be honest I still haven’t managed to find a solution that makes me feel badass and super woman, but I know things are getting better every day. And for me that’s enough. I may not be where I was, but I fully believe in my power and my will to go there and beyond. And heck do I have a great partner to support me through my ups and downs and who believes in me and our team like nothing else. Everyone needs to get themselves a Queen Juju (aka Julie Gordon).
If the worst enemy you face everyday is the person in the mirror remember to give yourself a break. Your faults are not your weakness, in them you can find strength. Let go of how you think things should be and embrace the life that is trying to work it’s way into your consciousness.
Trust me, the best is yet to come.