Every day in my Facebook news feed I see at least three quotes about fear. And I never really understood why fear is such a big deal. Until last night. Last night I experienced Fear worthy of a quote.
My life has been a bit unconventional. Based on my personal choices and the decisions life sometimes makes for us, I’ve found myself outside the norm more than inside it. Maybe because of this, I’ve come to see fear as a friend. Often fear has been a beacon pointing the way for me. I feel the pit in my stomach and hear my heart beating in my ears, and I know I’m probably on to something. Most of the good things in my life have come from following my fear.
Being friends with fear probably requires a good dose of self-confidence – which I have. I am convinced I am smart enough, cranky enough and capable enough to navigate the obstacles that separate me from what I want. And if what I want doesn’t come with its share of fear, then maybe it’s not worth pursuing. I have truly believed if there’s a will, there’s a way.
So up until last night, it had been a long time since I had experienced the threat of Fear and how ugly it can feel.
Nearly seven weeks ago I registered for Battle of the Barbells. When I registered I knew the few months prior to the competition would fly by, and I needed to start preparing immediately. During every WOD since I’ve registered, Battle of the Barbells has been in the back of my mind. I’ve put in extra work on pull ups and double unders. I’ve committed to a nutrition plan. I’ve increased my metcons in hopes of tackling my major weakness (and nemesis): conditioning.
This competition is supposed to redeem my last-place finish at the Easter Throwdown. It’s supposed to validate all the time and energy I devote to CrossFit. It’s supposed to prove to me that I am making progress.
Last night I couldn’t lift within 20 pounds of my 1RM power clean.
My double unders sucked.
The heavy kettlebell swings, which are normally a strength for me, kicked my ass.
And Battle of the Barbells is only four weeks away.
As I drove home it occurred to me that this time I wasn’t smart, cranky or capable enough to see this thing through. For once, a will to succeed would not provide a way. I am not a natural athlete. I’m awkward and clumsy, slow and cerebral. So why do I have a desire to excel at something in which the best I’ll ever be is average?
Fear gripped me and squeezed. The only thing I could do is back out. I’d lose the registration fee, but that is a small price to pay for saving myself from facing the inevitable truth displayed on a competition leaderboard: I suck at CrossFit.
I’m terrified that I will come in last. I’m scared that CrossFit is not worth the time I commit to it. I am horrified by the thought that I am not making progress. And if I back out of Battle of the Barbells, none of these fears will be confirmed.
I actually laughed. Such a simple solution. WODs would become WODs again, instead of possible indicators of competition success or failure. I could lay off the extra after-class work and get home sooner. Hell, I could eat some Halloween candy. By the time I pulled into the garage I was giddy with the idea of jumping ship. I would cancel tonight…right after dinner. Or after I watched a movie. Or after I had done some writing. Or maybe tomorrow.
But I didn’t.
I thought about my sophomore year in high school when I decided I would be on the Cross Country team. I joined because I loved to run. We ran all over town – jumping over rain-filled potholes, passing abandoned houses on graveled back roads. We ran through fields with grass so high and thick it cut your shins. I always fell behind, plodding along, hoping not to lose sight of the group and get lost. By the end of the competition season, the mothers from all the different schools would cheer my name. Because they recognized me. Because I always came in last. I’d lie if I said I hadn’t enjoyed the notoriety just a bit.
I’m still registered for Barbells. I’m a competitor. And I’ve worked hard, despite how I measure up against others.
But last night’s Fear magnified a few truths I have avoided. When I started CrossFit 18 months ago, the only thing it interfered with was watching my favorite TV shows while eating my favorite snacks. But one of the side effects of this CrossFit experience is being unable to settle for less than what I am capable of doing. Lately I’ve been stressed about lack of time – for my husband, for my writing, for pursuing these life dreams I have. Maybe it’s time to take CrossFit a little less seriously. Maybe it’s time to use this amazing thing I’ve found as a way to elevate my performance in life, not just in the gym.
Maybe Fear is still my beacon.
What is your relationship with fear?