Boxing is a perfect analogy for life. Cue Rocky’s words of wisdom:
I’ve written before about how much I subscribe to those cheesy statements. And I do. Except I can’t, for the life of me, figure out how to keep moving forward when I get hit (either in life or when in the ring). And I most definitely have not figured out how to believe in myself.
Case study: a hairy criticism
I got a fabulous haircut this weekend from my talented hairdresser. I now have very short lesbian hair: a pixie cut. I think I look beautiful (yes, I am extremely vain). And so far, the feedback I’ve received supports my belief. Yippee.
At work this morning, I noticed an asymmetry in the cut of my hair around my ears. I pointed this out to my coworker, remarking how I couldn’t unsee it and I was doomed to be bugged by it all day.
Co-worker: “Ben voyons donc! Pourquoi qu’elle a faite ça, ta coiffeuse?” (Translation: “Geez! Why would your hairdresser do that?”)
I suggested that my hairdresser did not intend on leaving the asymmetry, that it was most likely a mistake.
Co-worker: “Mais c’est sa job. Me semble que vérifier la longueur, c’est la base!” (Translation: “But that’s her job. Checking that the length on either side of the head is part of the basics!”)
All kinds of memories surged up in that moment, jumbled in my mind. Like how my hairdresser ran after me, scissors and brush in hand, after I’d paid, because she’d noticed something not quite right, and she wanted to fix it. Like how she apologized for not being chatty because she was concentrating on getting my haircut just right. Like how everytime I show up at the salon, she’s waiting for me, with a portfolio of haircuts she thinks would suit me, and she’ll spend up to 40 minutes discussing what I want, what she’ll do, to make sure we are aligned in our vision. Like how she once confided that even after 13 years of experience, she gets really nervous when doing bridal parties because she is scared she’ll disappoint the bride on her big day. Like how often my boss has sighed in frustration when I’ve made a mistake at work. Like how often I’ve cried because my best has not been good enough. Like how hard I try ignore my inner voices that criticize me just as harshly. Like how often I’ve skipped social functions because I was morbidly afraid someone would say something harsh and I’d melt down in tears publicly.
And so my response was, “For goodness’ sake!! Why must you always be criticizing everybody?”
Unsurprisingly, my coworker was extremely offended. Nor did she particularly care to hear my apologetic explanations for why I’d overreacted.
Rocky wouldn’t understand: his hair is always perfect
“It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward.” A careless comment by a coworker feels like a hit. Going through a day is exhausting, because the amount and variety of these little tiny jabs is endless. I keep moving forward, in that I still show up to work, and to boxing, but I can feel myself getting worn down, and retreating into my little corner. And just like in boxing, where you can’t win without taking a few chances, I can feel myself winning less and less at life because I’m less and less willing to take a gamble and throw a big punch. If I find tiny jabs painful and exhausting, how could I possibly expose myself to the big body shots?
After a year of therapy, I am no longer depressed, and I’ve taken one big risk (singing in public and surviving). Those are both good things. But when I consider the path I’ve yet to travel to be able to live a life that isn’t crippled by fear and anxiety, I am dismayed, and I wonder just how much of my therapist’s retirement fund I’ll end up financing.
I wish I could retreat into my safe zone under all of the blankets in my bed. That right there, my friends, is a real fighter’s attitude.