I have always had an issue with self-esteem and confidence. It was rooted from a very young age, where I can recall what could be perceived as “shortcomings” constantly being brought to my attention . It wasn’t done to chastise or discourage me. My parents were not the guilty ones – they were trying to shield me from a world that might otherwise cause harm. I heard their friends talk about how “tan” I was compared to my fairer sister. Peers and acquaintances would always comment on my very short stature. I was told I couldn’t do much because of my back issues, so best to watch my activities. Once, I was told that I could never learn piano because my hands are too small. And let’s not forget about the whole Egyptology dream! Unfortunately, I took those things too literally and they had a lasting impact throughout my life.
I had convinced myself that I was “too” something to do many things. Too short for sports. Too weak for sports. Too brown and not pretty enough for anyone to like. Too fat or round to be accepted. The list went on and on. I never thought I was good enough for anything or anyone. This was all despite the fact that I had family and friends that were there for me. The issues were so deep-rooted, that nothing would change unless I changed my mindset.
2011 was it. I was two years in my health revamp. I had lost a good amount weight (so just a little roundness!) and I had developed good speed and stamina through my HIIT running. However, I didn’t have much muscle or strength. One day, I passed by the opening of a gym that focused on Muay Thai (kickboxing) and Boxing.
I suddenly realized – I needed a change. I was very scared though. All those insecurities about my lack of skills and strength resurfaced, and I almost convinced myself that I was not good enough to join. Almost. I am so glad I made myself do it. Joining that gym ended up being one of the best things I could do for myself.
It took a couple of months for me to learn how to kickbox / box. I was insecure and scared at first, but slowly gained enough confidence to join classes in the ring. I became addicted. I initially saw myself in competition with everyone else. I later realized that the biggest competitor was my own ego. I decided that I would just live out my childhood dreams and finally be proud of myself. I wanted something that I could admit to being good at. This would be it.
I trained as much as I could. If I wasn’t working, I was at the gym. If I wasn’t at either of those two places, I was hanging with my gym buddies. I took personal training sessions with coaches who specialized in boxing and Muay Thai. I became friends with my fellow classmates in the ring. I found myself no longer on the fitness classes. Instead, it became a daily routine to train with everyone in the ring side. There was contact. There was sparring. There were moments where I thought I was going to give up and pass out. It was exhilarating.
As time passed on, Muay Thai and Boxing just became a part of my life and my daily routine. My week was not complete without putting on a pair of gloves. The sounds of boxing bags and kickshields was just part of it. I didn’t glisten. I had sweat circles because I worked. This was my life for nearly 5 years. I ended up having to give it up last year, due to a few injuries and my pregnancy.
What I can say, is that time in the gym instilled confidence and a sense of worth that had never been there before. I felt like I had a talent at something, and I was not embarrassed or ashamed to learn more about it or see what I could do with it. I thought it was hilarious when people would underestimate me, because I realized that I was good at it. The group of people I met saw me at my ugliest, and at my worst, but they were always supportive and welcoming. I felt like I belonged. Any time I had an issue with my “shortcomings”, my coaches were right there to prove that I had it in me to persevere. Once class was over, people didn’t just go home; we hung around and chatted as if we didn’t just finish the sweatiest workout. We were a team and a support network for each other.
I don’t think I would have been able to overcome the worst of my Postpartum symptoms as quickly without this experience. It takes confidence and initiative to get over something like that. I learned to be confident and to strive for the best through training. Because of that, I am thankful for the experience and the friends I gained in the process. Without my friends and training partners, I still might have had a lot of self-doubt.
I think about the past sometimes, and how I missed out on a lot of training and experience because I told myself I wasn’t good enough. I think this serves a perfect example – don’t convince yourself of what you can’t do unless you try. You might find yourself an entirely new, and happier person!
And by the way – my gloves are still waiting for me…and the moment when I revisit them is coming soon!