During the first week, I fast learned I was not cut out for something so disciplined and exact, for I am an out-of-the-box creative throwing abstract thought into my free-form approach to life.
At the same time I trained in grueling workouts and sprint races competing against my daughter and six-year-old kids, I was publishing my first book, Writing with Verve on the Blogging Journey. I didn’t have time to memorize three forms of 20 moves each, five self-defense moves, and a litany of South Korean vocabulary.
In the second week, I was humbled as the entire class of about 30 students with five adults and children waited for me to stumble through the most basic of forms, the lowly Gicho Ilbu. As everyone else held their last move of the form, I struggled with three instructors loudly directing me to move this foot and that hand. I hung my head in shame and tears stung my cheeks. My three partners in crime (adults also crazy enough to try this art form with their kids) patted me on the back. The instructor, a third-degree black belt, said to me, “Miss Jayme, this is not life or death, this is just taekwondo.”
It was then that I knew this was the most humbling adult experience I’ve challenged myself with ever.
Then I got to thinking…how do we challenge ourselves as adults?
When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone to try something new and experience humility?
In spite of my perfectionist brown-belt daughter (an advanced belt) attempting to teach me overnight how to be exact with my posture and the angles of my blocks and punches, I persevered. In fact, she informed me several times I was not allowed to quit.
This experience no longer had me in the alpha position as a parent and leader to my child, it put me squarely in a place of discomfort unable to learn the forms as quickly as the kids with an inability to devote practice time because there was none.
I could not hide the fact that I truly sucked at taekwondo and wanted desperately to quit.
Embrace What You Hate
I embraced what I hated and kept on. I owe thanks to my peers for coming early to class to work with me as we all helped each other build confidence.
Tonight, May 30, 2013, I graduated to yellow belt.
I broke a board on the first try with a loud snap using my foot; I sucked at the self-defense; my forms were decent; and, I took a kick on the calf in non-contact sparring. My grade was A-.
What raised my happiness quotient, however, was the very end of testing when the instructor awarded me a huge trophy, the Spirit Award. He shared a story, and it went like this:
“This young lady is an inspiration. She struggled, and she could have quit many times, yet she didn’t.”
And, the tears came with the smiles; the humble mixed with the happy.
My sense of achievement, not accomplishment, launched my very personal journey about challenges as an adult and about the growth of self. It’s really a big deal, and I wanted to share.