The day I didn't cry.

I don’t think you understand. Getting hit in the face is EMOTIONAL. We were not made to fight--not like this. My friend/coach/hero, LaKesha Springle, always says that. “God didn’t make us to fight, he made us to love each other.” This is coming from a world class kickboxer, mind you, so it's not like she doesn't know how to fight. More than anyone, she understands the intense emotional upheaval that happens every single time you step into the ring; the very real mental and emotional battle that takes place when you decide to compete in a high-stress, full contact, sweaty, exhausting and painful game of tag. 

So why voluntarily get hit? Why even engage in a sport that is emotionally, physically and mentally draining? Well, read on, my friend.

Yesterday, I sparred with Kesha and my goal was to throw combinations. Her goal? Get me to cry.

Let me elaborate: I cry a lot. I’m already an emotional person. Think, New Girl’s Jessica Day.

That’s me, each and every day about life in general. God gave me lots of feelings and they come out of my eyes, what can I say.

However, I’m blessed enough to have an experienced, badass sparring partner who has realized this about me and knows I have to reach my breaking point--my panic induced tearfest--so I can learn how to control my emotions and use them to focus, not freak out.

The moment:

Third round, she got me exactly where she wanted me: stuck in the corner with no clear way out. With speed I can only dream about, she hit me with a few hard body shots, knowing it would aggravate me and send me into a panic. Literally saved by the bell, I felt the tears surge to my eyes as I walked back to my corner, feeling frustrated and defeated. But I kept breathing.

 I don’t have to cry. I am O.K. Keep breathing, keep moving. You’re O.K.

And it worked. The tears blinked away, mixing with sweat, and I made it through my fourth and final round, breathing heavy but remaining (somewhat) calm. Did I cry after? You betcha! But the point is that in my moment of stress, rage, uncertainty and pain--I didn’t cry.

So why put yourself through that, you ask?

Because I refuse to live a life of comfort and conformity, never pushing myself beyond the limitations that society has set. We’re told to do things that only make us happy, keep us comfortable, numb us to life.

What I learned:

There is no joy without pain and there is no victory without loss; these things are connected, we know that by now. Yin and Yang, light and dark--these aren’t new concepts. Success and failure work the same way, existing as intricately connected opposites. 

The day I didn’t cry was a big moment for me. A moment of mental strength and toughness that has taken me months to build up to. I still held my breath, I still got frustrated. I dropped my hands, I didn’t move enough. The list goes on and on because this is a journey of struggle and growth, not an overnight transformation into Bruce Lee.

But I inched a little closer towards control, towards allowing myself to be in the midst of chaos and remain calm inside.

And isn’t that the true goal? Not only to push ourselves to new limits, but to create new “normals”.

Yesterday, I didn’t cry. I take that forward with me today, building upon it to become the person, athlete and woman I want to be.

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