I really, REALLY didn’t want to go to taekwondo on Tuesday.
I was two days into a busy week and just wanted to zone out at home, drink some wine, read a book, and not participate in life. That week I was both covering for a coworker at my day job who was on vacation and two taekwondo coaches who were also on vacation. I had taken two weeks off of work at the beginning of the month, so I was very willing to help out a coworker who’d had my back during that time, and the taekwondo coaches in question work very hard for the dojang and very much deserved a break…but damn if it isn’t tiring to be “on” for about 12 hours for an entire work week (including having to teach a workshop to 40 people on one of said days).
So forgive me if I wasn’t in the jolliest of moods when I showed up to the dojang Tuesday evening.
For the 6 pm class I was helping out with coaching, holding pads, etc. You know, black belt stuff. They’re a chatty bunch of kids, and their energy seemed even higher since they’re out of school for the summer. I made myself smile at some of their antics while we warmed them up even though the sweet laughter of children is grating to my cranky ears, and I ended up having a good time holding pads for them during kicking drills and giving them individual encouragement.
But…I STILL REALLY DIDN’T WANT TO BE THERE.
This wasn’t one of those “When In Doubt, Go To Class” days or rolling my eyes with a grim smile at the poster in my office that says “A black belt is a white belt who refused to give up.”
I was really f*cking tired.
It’s difficult being an introvert with a people-oriented job and a people-oriented extra-curricular activity. For the most part I like it, and for some crazy reason I’m good at it, but I do still have my limits. And I was at my limit Tuesday night.
I was tempted to leave after the 6 pm class, but several of my black belt colleagues showed up. They’re all much younger than me, but we’ve slowly built a camaraderie and support system over the last six months. I thought a workout with my classmates would boost my mood.
And then my coach said we’d be practicing some sparring.
Crap. Sparring takes more brain power than I felt like doling out that evening. I was smaller than everyone in class. Couldn’t we just kick pads or do forms or something? But I was already lined up with my fellow second Dans and couldn’t very well walk out.
Idon’twantotbehereIdon’twanttobehereIdon’twanttobehere I silently chanted while we ran laps around the training space. Now it was really too late to leave.
“Maybe you’re exactly where you need to be.”
A calm voice in my brain stopped me mid chant as we were doing some lunges and deep stretches after our jogging warm-up.
Yeah…that’s right. Maybe I AM exactly where I need to be. Any time I’m mentally worn out or emotionally drained, taekwondo class seems to be the best remedy. I gazed at the back of my classmate’s head while I deepened my stretch and contemplated my choice to stay.
One of the things I decided during my time off from work was that I never wanted any perceived stress from my workday to bleed into my personal life. I had committed to myself that I was truly going to live by the mantra “work to live, not live to work,” and enjoy my personal life (paid for by my nice job) as much as possible. I never want my day or my identity to be defined by my profession. My job gets me for eight hours out of the day. I WILL not let it affect how I spend the remaining hours.
Besides, I hadn’t worked out in about three days, so I really needed to move around.
Okay, I can do this. Let’s BE in class rather than counting the minutes until it’s over.
The juxtaposition of goofy kids and quiet, cerebral teens and adults in the 7 pm black belt class was almost jarring. We chatted a little as we laced each other into hogus (chest protectors), but otherwise we were all business. It was an odd combination of being together as a unit and being lost in our own thoughts.
It turned out to be a great class. We worked on some sparring drills, had a few practice rounds, and before I knew it, the hour was up.
We ended our time together with seated meditation, which was a delightful surprirse at the end of a very long and very demanding day.
The moral of the story isn’t that I NEED to be in the dojang every time the door is open. Just like I won’t let my job determine how I spend my personal hours, my personal hours are not solely occupied by taekwondo…but the dojang is one of the few places that is guaranteed to put my heart and mind at ease. It’s where I can be one of the best versions of myself.
The dojang almost always ends up being exactly where I need to be, even when I initially don’t wan to be there.
So if you’re have a moment like I was, putting yourself into a situation that wasn’t terrible but wasn’t necessarily ideal, honoring a commitment you secretly didn’t want to keep…turn the tables on the negative thought process. You might rather be at home taking a nap or going fishing or hell, being at work depending on your particular commitments, but there’s a reason why you showed up.
You showed up. Now figure out why you should stay.
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