Probably most of us have had someone tell us at some point in our jiu-jitsu journeys that we should not be comparing ourselves with others. Probably many of us have said the same thing to someone else. Probably most of us believe it. But probably most of have done it anyway.
I had a moment of depression a little while ago doing just that. When I started jiu-jitsu, it was a new program at our gym so basically everyone who was taking jits classes was new to the sport. I, along with some of my classmates, quickly became obsessed with it. There were two of us in particular who went all in. Attending all the classes, finding other places to train (when the program started, jits was only 2x a week which we all know is not enough jits), competing as much as possible.
As time went on, I sort of fell behind him. He became the beginners instructor at the gym and eventually ended up leaving his job to work at the gym. He was training full time, living the dream and I was finding myself cutting back a lot because I felt like I was overtraining, I kept getting injured, etc.
Since I had to take the summer off, I really noticed the divide when I came back. Admittedly getting back into jiu-jitsu has been really hard for me. It’s hard for a lot of reasons. One reason is that when I had all that time back from not training, I started filling it up with other things. I started taking ukulele lessons, I started dating my girlfriend, I’ve started taking new fitness classes. Now that I am trying to get back to training, I am having trouble finding room in my schedule for everything I enjoy.
And even though fitting jits back in my schedule has been difficult, the hardest part for me has been the mental part. I am not in the shape I was when I was training uninjured 5 or 6 days a week. I feel big, slow and stupid. When I train I feel like my mind remembers what to do but my body is no longer capable of it. This has lead to many frustrating nights and constantly wondering if I’ll ever get back to where I was.
So a couple of weekends ago while I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and saw pictures of my old training buddy getting his purple belt, I felt some angst. I have figured he was long due for a purple belt so it wasn’t a surprise but it still kind of hit me hard. I know you’re not supposed to think things like “that could have been me”, but I couldn’t help it. I was thinking that if I had trained more, not gotten injured, kept myself healthier while I was out or did any number of things “better” I could be getting my purple belt too.
Part of me was wondering why I was even bothering with training. I’m having so much trouble getting back to it and I know that I am going to see even more people advance in a quicker time frame than me. Then I decided I should get over myself.I had fallen into the trap of judging my progress based on tangible milestones. Right now the journey for me is not about advancing but about getting back on the right path.
It’s going to take time, a lot of work and a lot of frustration to feel like I’ve gotten back to my formal self. I wish I had done things differently but I also realize that I cannot change the past so all I can do is focus on the future.
Last week I officially registered for my first competition in a year and made a commitment to myself to get back to healthy eating, train as much as I can and as hard as I can and leave it all on the mats in April. It might be my greatest triumph. Or I might get my ass beat. But what I will gain by making myself get back to training will be invaluable and will hopefully lead to continued good habits and focus. I’m ready for my 2015 comeback!