Back to the Mat: Validating and Overcoming Fear with Community
Like many members of Easton’s community, I quit training when COVID hit. And like many still, when the opportunity for training opened back up, I stayed home.
Mentally, I wasn’t in a place where I could do the online classes, and I had just sort of pushed Jiu-Jitsu to the back of my brain like it had never been there. I was new anyways (barely a two-stripe on my white belt), so what did it really matter?
As someone who never considered herself an athlete, my discovery of Jiu-Jitsu came completely by accident, mostly because when I started working at Easton Boulder’s front desk, the academy required that all of the staff train a certain amount of classes to get to know the community.
I fell in love with it.
Having just moved to Colorado and knowing nobody, Easton truly became my community, and as I slowly moved past the fear of being new and bad at something, the community on the mat became a familiar base to me as well. I learned how to move and bend my body in ways that stemmed from control and technique — not its usual flop.
I’ve always considered myself a “floor person,” preferring carpet or hardwood to a couch, legs stretched out or up against a wall. It made me sad to stop training, but the shock of everything else COVID-related overshadowed those emotions. And, since I hadn’t exactly built Jiu-Jitsu into my identity, I didn’t realize how deeply it would affect me. It wasn’t just a community I missed, but specifically a community that shared a growth mindset and a connectedness and awareness to their bodies.
Still, buried, the inkling of sadness only came out on those rare occasions where I’d have one beer too many and find myself crying about mat time. Trust me, I even surprised myself.
Fast forward six months and I’m back working the front desk in Longmont.
I write this because despite the intense emotion we may feel when things get taken away, we sometimes convince ourselves we don’t need them even when they become available again.
I love the feeling of laying on the mats. I love the feeling of being tangled and knowing how to untangle myself (in those few, rare, fleeting moments it’s happened). Yet, after such a long break, it’s still terrifying to get back.
As I write this, I’ve also been struggling with some chronic shoulder and nerve issues due to the hypermobility I’ve never properly addressed, so that adds another layer or “well…I could just wait…”
Beyond the anxiety of our skills regressing and intimidation of “newness,” we will always find a reason not to start something. Not that I’m advising jumping back in despite injury, but for myself personally, I’m becoming aware of when my body is telling me “no” and when I’m creating an excuse.
We can find a hundred external factors to keep us from doing something tough; sometimes it’s logistical, financial or physical but often it stems from fear.
I’ll be the first to say I’m still absolutely terrified of my first class back, but it reassures me knowing that others are going through the same struggle.
It’s important to give ourselves grace throughout this journey back — it’s okay to be scared and nervous and have conflicting thoughts. Most of the time, that fear stems from a bar of perfection we’ve set for ourselves and a fear of failure.
Let’s break the bar! Let yourself suck. We all sucked at some point.
Above all, have trust in the community you found to welcome you back, rust, cobwebs and all, and have trust that ultimately your body will tell you what it needs.
Good luck!! Hope to see you there soon.
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Easton Training Center’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu program has classes for students of every level. Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned brown belt, you’ll find training at our academies to be fun and challenging.
Our Fundamentals program teaches the essentials of offense and defense from the foundational positions. You’ll learn self-defense techniques for real life situations. From there, you’ll start to build your own game in live training, or Randori. In our advanced classes, you’ll learn the finer points of sport Jiu-Jitsu from the best instructors in Colorado.