A Candle in the Dark
I recently came across the following quote: “Be brave enough to be bad at something new”. It was like seeing a candle in the dark, illuminating, inspiring and timely. When I read it, I had just started writing. In fact, I hadn’t even put words on paper. Writing was only a budding idea, rooted in my imagination and no where else.
Over my lifetime, I’ve had an abundance of experience in being bad at something new. It takes bravery because, inevitably, being bad at something is accompanied by various negative emotions such as self-doubt and insecurity. Over the past week in particular, I’ve had my fair share of self-doubt. And as a sweet, ripe cherry on top, some negative self-talk to boot. Specifically, I’ve been asking myself, “what in the hell am I doing attempting to put new literary content on the internet”? I’m a middle-aged, mom of 2 with subpar technological skills. I didn’t go to school to learn to write and it’s not something I have experience in doing professionally. Moreover, my topic of choice is CrossFit. I find myself asking, “who am I to speak on the subject”? I’m not a competitor and I’ve never been. I’m not breaking any records or winning any podium spots. I’m a lifer, an average Joe. The negative self-talk is harsh, unforgiving and one-sided.
I remember when I started CrossFit in 2005. I lived in Saint Petersburg, Florida at the time and had just graduated college. This was before the debut of the CrossFit Games, back when we kept scores in notepads instead of using fancy apps, and Pukey the Clown was a very prominent and questionable mascot. I remember my first 55# back squat PR as vivid as the paper on which I write. Being a runner for a vast majority of my life before then, my cardiovascular output was good. However, my lack of strength, with the approximate 30 pounds of muscle that I adorned on my scrawny figure, was painfully apparent. In the beginning, quite frankly, I was like a giraffe – tall, lanky and awkward. Nonetheless, I loved it from the start.
Although I’ve been doing CrossFit for a long time, I didn’t start being truly consistent with it until I opened my gym in 2016. After moving from Saint Petersburg, I found it very difficult to find a gym that compared to the one I left. The quality of coaching in the gyms that I tried was mediocre at best and the facilities left me with something to be desired. So I went back to running, joined a globo gym and tried doing CrossFit on my own. Shortly after, I met my soon-to-be husband. We were young, wild and free and lived a life of travel, social outings and non-stop fun, all of which led to a less than optimal lifestyle. It was all great until my husband had a health scare. He went in for a routine physical and shockingly returned home with news of a tak- arrhythmia in his heart.
It was a stressful and scary time. He had to make a hard decision at an uncommonly young age about whether or not to move forward with a catheter ablation surgery, a procedure that creates scar tissue to block abnormal electrical signals to the heart. Generally this type of surgery is recommended when medication hasn’t worked. My husband’s circumstances were unique and unusual given his age. He was faced with either taking medication every day for the rest of his life, which would over time, present significant side effects, or take the risk and move forward with surgery.
I remember him lying on the coach with surgery looming in the next few days and telling him that I was going to join a CrossFit gym that had just opened a few blocks from the house we had recently purchased. I was ready to make some lifestyle changes and I wanted CrossFit to, again, be a large part of that. I joined and went steadily for a few months before he was cleared to return to rigorous activity and joined me as well. Although it was a small “box”, they put a large emphasis on the quality of coaching and it reminded me of the CrossFit gym in Saint Petersburg that I loved so much. They helped to renew my love for the methodology that I had left behind some years prior. That gym would later become South Tampa CrossFit.
In truth, I opened what would become South Tampa CrossFit on a whim and a prayer. All I knew at the time was that I loved CrossFit and I couldn’t find a gym in the Tampa Bay area that met my needs and the needs of my new baby boy. I wondered why there wasn’t a CrossFit gym in my area that focused on quality coaching, offered high-end amenities, and provided resources for new moms. I toyed with the idea of opening a gym for a bit until one day I decided to be brave enough to be bad at something new. I look back fondly now at the trials and tribulations that presented themselves while we were learning not to suck. At the time however, it was emotionally draining and hard but 100% worth it.
Here we are now, more than a half of a decade later, and I am again attempting to be brave enough to be bad at something new. I have always found joy in writing, while becoming completely absorbed and deeply focused. Time slows down a bit and the words, at times, come effortlessly. I can imagine myself at the age of 60, sitting in a quiet room, overlooking a beautiful lake, writing. So I am taking the risk, making the leap and putting words on paper.
In response to the questions that have plagued my mind as I endeavor to strip away the protective barriers that lie within the confines of my own comfort: I hear you. I hear you and I still choose to show up as my boldest self. I still choose compassion for myself as I attempt to achieve the goals that I believe in. I will continue to be brave in the pursuit of something new in hopes that one day, more than a half of a decade from now, I will look back and be as proud as I have been before.