Still working on developing a consistently positive, growth mindset about when I compete again next summer. Now that it’s a little less than a year out, nerves switched on this week. If that seems like an odd problem for a competitive bodybuilder to have, check out this blog because in it I briefly describe what happened the last time I was on stage. The discovery path I was set on because of that experience has changed my teaching practice and my life, I guess. For that, I’m grateful. Still, my “fight or flight” response gets a bit stuck in “flight” when I think about another sticky spray tan, posing suit, and stage experience. I told my coach this week that I’ve developed a little learned helplessness about what I’m going to be able to accomplish in this sport. I call it that because I recognize in myself what I see in my students when they come into my classroom to take a geometry exam. “I’m going to fail”, they tell me. What do I tell myself? “I’ve been placed dead last three times.” “My pelvis is too wide.” “My shoulders are too narrow.” “I’m too old.” All of these are my version of “I’m going to fail, so why bother? Who am I kidding?” And nothing anyone says is going to change ‘reality’, right? You know how this goes. It’s uncomfortable to admit, but we all do it at some time about something. That is a sign of a fixed mindset about one’s ability to do a particular thing. Working towards a growth mindset allows for the “I’m not ready, but I can improve” attitude. Once I recognize it, I can deal with it. Trick is to catch it before I end up ruminating on it. I’ve been going back and forth on this one for almost a year now.
Thank you, readers, for hanging with me while I work through these things. I don’t expect this to be resolved until after I’m on stage again. Oh and, I kid you not – as I type this, I’m watching a baby bird through the blinds of my window. She will be ready to fly soon and is tentatively exploring the opening and perch of her birdhouse. And…she goes back in. Not ready yet. Hope she doesn’t decide there is no point…
Way back in 2010 when I first set my mind on bodybuilding as the “big, scary goal”, I wasn’t a person who had any business making a goal like that. Almost EVERYTHING had to be changed – how I ate, had to make time to train, and I had to retool all my routines about teaching because I no longer had time to bring work home. I’m still married to the same wonderful man, but he was forced to make some adjustments because his wife just up and decided that she was going to be a bodybuilder now. What was I thinking? How would I do this thing? The mental game was so hard then! Looking at what I’ve done, it seems really silly to still be fighting dragons, but I’ve obviously developed a habit over the years of falling back into negative self-talk when I’m insecure and doubtful. Back then, I put a small bulletin board up in my bathroom and filled it with motivational quotes that meant something to me. Basically, I left myself reminders where I would see them to counter negative thoughts with positive ones. I think I will do that again. And I just happen to have a bigger bulletin board!
Something else occurred to me this morning while I was at the gym. It would be useful for me to mentally redefine what is real for me about being on stage and then rehearse those thoughts. I’ve competed three times. I know how warm it is under the lights. I know what it smells like – a mixture of spray tan and hairspray. I know what the stage feels like under my feet. I know I can’t see much past the first two rows in the audience without my glasses (which is a blessing). I can completely visualize it now, which is a plus. My thoughts up there are loud. I can create a new set of thoughts to put with that visualization. When I got home from the gym, I wrote this out. I don’t think this is final form. At some point, I’ll print it, laminate it, and put it up on that bathroom bulletin board.
I’m here to celebrate.
I celebrate the joy and gratitude that I finally get to do this.
I celebrate the useful, purposeful pain that forced growth and renewal.
I celebrate the courage I found minutes ago to walk out and stand here.
I celebrate the discipline to push myself to do things I could not do when I was a younger person.
What you see is the PHYSICAL MANIFESTATION of my MINDSET.
I’ve overcome obstacles to be here.
I’ve slayed dragons. I got back up when dragons slayed me.
See those people there? The judges? They have a task to do for the promoter of this show. I am not here for them and what they do is not my concern. I’m here, on this stage, on this day, for my own reasons.
I’m here for the people who love me, who inspired me, who helped me, who believe in me, and who need me to be here.
I’m here for my mom.
I’m here for the pictures that will document the inner strength the struggle built.
I’m here to show others how to slay dragons, too.
I’m here to celebrate.