I was really looking forward to the Pan Pacific Championships 2014. I made a game plan. I worked toward it. I blogged about it. I had my team working with me on it. I changed work rosters (mine and other peoples). I hit the grind hard, pushed past it, ate right, slept right, planned right. I. Did. Hill. Sprints.
Fkn. Hill. Sprints. I said no to all the new tattoos, all the cakes, all the wine, all the travel and all the social events I wanted to enjoy during that time and put my focus purely on that comp. I even tapered lifting. For the love of god, I gave up even that! You have no idea how much that last one felt like the final straw of sacrifice...And then come the day of division allocation, I had no one to compete against.
No one. Not one. Competition null and void. Over.
It kinda broke my brain. A surprisingly large sadness overcame me and fast. One that I am only just now, two months later, feeling free of. I see myself as a competitor. I define myself as one in fact. I do everything I can to become that chosen self image. I surround my life with it. I'm immersed in it. I am it. Or I want to be at least...it's an ideal that I work toward daily.
I was experiencing a situation for the first time (and first hand) that was completely out of my control within the broader sense of 'competition'. Ironically amidst trying to be ALL the self control across ALL aspects of my life. A slap in the face when realising that no matter how great my plan and preparation, I didn't ever think to plan for no actual competitors. That element I missed planning for entirely. And back up plans were not there to catch me. This I judged myself harshly for. Where was your self control there Jess? Surely you can control ALL THE THINGS?!!!
Ew. Horrible. Adult. Self. Realisation. Moment.
But I dunt wanna.
And so comes realising that the only thing for this situation is acceptance. Which of course is what I had to do and would be dignified and classy....but it didn't come right away. Cards on the table? I wanted to have a Richter scale breaking style tantrum and go back and eat all that cake I fkn said no to! And to not waste those weeks tapering. And to sleep in all those mornings. And have a meal with my partner rather than choosing the gym yet again. Every day. For weeks. Sadly. I'm an adult and am expected to behave sorta like one. I strive to personify that 'good sport' we always tell children to be. Tough goal, that's for sure.
In my sport, you compete against who turns up but the realisation that this is not something you are always guaranteed is a truly hard one for me. As a competitor I aim for the top of the podium. I have always felt, if I can't be at the top of the podium, I'm at the bottom. The feeling that I'm at the bottom without even the CHANCE to be at the top truly felt worse than losing a match. I couldn't face it. And I didn't even attend the comp to cheer my team mates on.
It was aaaalllll bad.
I am not at all upset with my potential competitors on a personal level. I certainly don't hold anyone accountable or in any way want insinuate blame/ownership or whatever. I am purely disappointed that I invested heavily in something that I could not see through to fruition. It's the strangest feeling. One that is new to me outside bad boyfriend #17 type relationships.
So, confused, I disappeared for a while to force some self reflection. Still training but feeling very, very disappointed and definitely directionless. Off social media as much as possible. Not attending events etc. Kinda withdrawn.
What these past 2 months has clarified for me now though is worth much more than any outcome competing at the Pan Pacs could ever have given me. This I am certain. I know more about myself. I know more about others. I know more about my sport and more specifically, competition. I know more about my future and where I want to go with my career. I have gained insight that will change me forever. I've also experienced this all and will be better equipped to help mentor and support my team mates and other competitors in the future. What I know clear as day right now is that I hope the very best for ALL my competitors in the future.
I hope their training is perfect. I hope their food preparation and knowledge is the best it's ever been. I hope their weight management is perfect. I hope their fitness is extremely good. That their cardio is incredible. That they can afford the event & travel costs involved. That their kids are healthy and have quality minders for the day. That they can get the time off work they requested. That they sleep well the night before competition. That they are nervous enough for a spark and and edge but not too nervous to perform. That they remain injury free and functional. And that they come 100% confident and assured that they did absolutely everything right in the lead up to facing me out on those mats.
I hope all of these things because this is what I hope for myself. And I can't wait to tap hands with that woman on comp day. Because essentially, she is me. And I want her to have her moment to shine. Or to challenge herself. Which ever one comes. I want that whole heartedly for us both.
Years ago I met my idol, BJJ Hall of Famer Luanna Alguzuir for the first time. She shared words with me that I hold in my heart in high regard. I understand them now more than ever.
"Jiu Jitsu is a game. And you cannot play alone."
My entire view of competition has completely changed. So thank you Pan Pacific Championships 2014. You thought me much more than the 3 Pan Pacific Championships I have won leading up to you.
ps. I fought a few days ago against a much higher level and more experience fighter than myself. Here's the link:
(TBC - you need to watch this - rocky moment!)