October 17, 2019
Growing up, I did a lot of individual sports. I ran my first 10k when I was five and from there, I participated in cross country, track, and swimming throughout my school years. I would get so much anxiety the night before a race that I often would not be able to sleep and it felt like my heart would literally flutter out of my chest. Nervous thoughts would flood my brain like, “Am I ready?” “Have I trained enough?” “What if I finish last?” “What if I don’t finish at all?” My mom, who is also an experienced athlete, would sit me down before each race and give me a little pep talk to calm my nerves. She would say various things each time, but one phrase that she repeatedly included and therefore stuck with me is, “無理やと思ってからが本当の勝負” For all of my non-Japanese speaking readers out there, it roughly translates to, “The real battle begins after you think you’ve reached your limit.” This sentence has become so engraved into me that I still hear my mom’s voice in my head every time I’m challenged or stressed to the point that I think I can’t/don’t want to try any further. It has translated over from sports to all aspects of my life and has become my life motto. It has truly helped me throughout numerous stages of my life. (Side note: it’s my mom’s milestone birthday on Monday, so quick shout out to her 🎉 )
I’ve learned that whenever I think I’ve reached my limit, how far I’m able to push myself from that point after is the real test in my strength and character. It has helped me to reframe stressful, sometimes seemingly hopeless situations. When I feel tempted to give up, I pause, reflect, and reset my thoughts. I think, “Okay, I’ve made it to the edge of familiar grounds. This is where things get interesting and exciting because I’m now entering new territory. This is only the beginning of a new self-improvement opportunity.” Think of it this way: you’re playing a video game and you lose a life at level 15. It makes you start back at level 1, but this time, level 1-15 is a piece of cake because you’ve already experienced those levels. No acquirement of a new skill happens here. When you reach level 15 again, you feel a little adrenaline because this was where you fell last time. You’re about to enter a level that you have yet to successfully overcome. This time, you’re able to conquer the challenge and move on to level 16, then level 17. Your limit is now level 17 and you’ve pushed yourself further than what you were familiar with or could tolerate before. How I see it, it’s the same with life. Each time you push yourself past your perceived breaking point, your capacity grows that much more.
Every day, we’re faced with new challenges and I completely understand that it all becomes too overwhelming sometimes. However, something as simple as reframing your thoughts can switch up your mood and give you the courage to keep advancing. Next time you’re faced with a situation that makes you want to give up, try taking a different perspective and get excited! It’s an opportunity to grow and become an even better version of yourself. I don’t know who or if anyone needs to hear this right now, but you’re much more capable than you may think. Fight On!