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WARNING: This entry is quite long and digresses a bit. HAHA.
I used to think of myself as a fairly humble person. It wasn't so much as something I strived to be, but more like something that was part of me. Part of my modesty may be due to the fact that I am overly critical of myself and I often see the mistakes I have made along the way. Part of it could also be the way I was brought up. I didn't have the best childhood, but it could have been worse. At least my parents loved me, fed me and put a roof over my head. I wasn't being physically abused and I had an amazing brother and grandparents that meant the world to me. In fact, I wouldn't be who I am today if it weren't for them and I will be forever grateful for that.
My parents were not the best of role models. Well, they were role models, but in the way that they showed me what I didn't want to become. Unfortunately, I haven't left behind all the bad habits I was accustomed to while growing up. I am overly critical of myself to the point that I have little to no self confidence. I expect excellence from myself and when I don't achieve it, I really put myself down. I remember one time in high school I brought home a 99 in science and they asked me why I didn't get a 100. I remember one time telling my mom that I wanted to go to college. Her reply was "You aren't going to college." Well, I decided apply to college anyway, it wasn't like I had bad grades or anything. I sat down and filled out a single application to the school I desperately wanted to go to…. and waited. Finally, the day came when I received a phone call telling me that I was accepted! I remember being so happy and I went and told my mom. I expected her to share my joy, but she didn't. Her reply shattered me; she stated "Just because you got accepted doesn't mean you are going."
My happiness faded away like smoke floating up into the sky. I tried in vain to grasp onto my happiness again, but like smoke, it slipped through my fingers. After being crushed, I went to my room feeling completely hopeless. My dreams of being a better person had been dashed. Then it came to me, I had decided that I had had enough of my mother telling me what I couldn't be or do. I then set out to figure out a way to put myself through college. It wouldn't be easy, but it could be done. The only way I was able to go was with student loans, but at least I was going. Four years later, I graduated. I remember my mom and my boyfriend being at my graduation (my dad couldn't be there). She told me how proud she was of me and bragged to all those who would listen. To be honest, that just annoyed me even more. She didn't help me get to where I was, but she would sure enough take the credit for it. That same year, I went to grad school and two years later, I graduated with my master's degree. This time, my mother, father, brother and fiancé were there. Again, my parent's told me how proud they were of me, yadda, yadda, yadda. This time though, I think they more or less meant it. I think they began to realize that I had made a conscious effort to break the mold and make myself a better person.
Another one of my faults is that sometimes I diminish my accomplishments to the point of being rude to others. I have always been very competitive and I have always strived for the perfection that seemed to be lacking in my life. For instance, I got second in the state for a competition that I did in high school. Instead of being proud of how well I did, all I could see was that I didn't get the gold…. All I had was a silver medal. It didn't help that my brother had won the gold medal when he entered the same competition when he was in high school. It just so happened that we were interested in the same things, so I often followed in his footsteps. When people congratulated me, instead of simply saying "Thank you." all I could muster up was "I really didn't do that well. I am the first place loser." That usually led to an awkward silence before the topic got changed. Luckily for me, I have since become a more gracious loser and a more eloquent speaker.
There are a few events that have changed me; made me who I am today. The first one would be starting martial arts. Little by little, bit by bit, it helped me come out of my shell. I gained self confidence and began to find worth in myself and what I had to contribute to others. By the time I climbed the ranks to purple belt and beyond, I realized that I had gained a sense of empathy and benevolence. I found it amazing how easily I was able to empathize with those white belts who were struggling to make things work because I remembered with such clarity how I felt at that stage of training. It was also those same white belts that led me to realize exactly how far I had come.
The second event was my four years in undergraduate. It was there that I began to find my voice. I was able really figure out who I was and I wasn't ashamed of myself anymore. Sure, I was still overly critical of myself, but that habit will unfortunately never leave me. I did things that I never thought I was capable of: I became a student representative of the college and spoke at open houses, I became head of women and was in charge of 200 students for fall orientation, I became an RA my senior year, I tried out and made the varsity tennis team my senior year after only playing for 3 months and so much more. Those four years taught me that I am capable of doing things above and beyond what I ever thought was possible.
Another event would be marrying my husband. He showed me that despite my faults, I am worth loving. I may not be worth much to other people, but to him, I am worth vowing love and loyalty to. I am worth enough for him to want to spend the rest of our lives together. To me, that really hit home and it made me stop and think. Maybe, just maybe, I am not as ugly as I often see myself. Maybe there is more to me then this dying need to seek out perfection. Maybe I am capable of being a good wife and am able to make my loving husband happy. Maybe I can let go of all the things I am not in control of and accept and love myself for who I am... and finally be happy. Okay, so I can't quite do that last one yet, but I am getting there. At least I have moments where I can look in the mirror and say "I look pretty right now!" Those don't happen too often, but they happen more often then they used to.
Perhaps the most recent event that has changed my life is the world of aikido. After 4 years of part time training (I was away at college) and 3 years of not training at all (more college and moving cross country for my new job), I have stepped back into the world of martial arts. This time, instead of wearing a black gi with a black belt tied around my waist, I step onto the mats wearing a white gi and a white belt. I had gone from one extreme to the other. I was no longer a person to be looked at for guidance. I was no longer the example. I no longer knew what I was talking about and I certainly don't know what I am doing. All of my previous training went out the window and I was once again reminded of what it is like to be a beginner. One would think that a change such as this might be hard to swallow, but for me it wasn't so bad.
Sure, I don't really like being the lost student all over again, but amazingly enough; it has made me see things in a different light. It's like I am reading the same book over again, but this time I have a completely different outlook on it. I thought I was humble before, but this has taught me that I have much to learn. I have since realized that I could do with another helping of humility. Instead of being resentful of this dish, I happily pick up my spoon and take tiny helpings of humility with each class I take. Sometimes my helping of humility is a bit more then what I would like, but it makes me stop and analyze the situation instead of taking something for granted.
Though I found myself a beginner all over again, things were a little different this time around. First off, I had my husband by my side. I know that I am not alone in this journey and am happy to be training with the man I love. Secondly, I have been in this position before. I know what to expect, though that doesn't stop me from wanting to pick things up quicker then I am. Finally, I know that I am capable of accomplishing goals when I set my mind to it. This journey may not be easy, but I have the faith and confidence that I didn't have before. I know that I can climb this mountain and though I may never get to the top, I think I am going to enjoy this lifelong journey.
In the end, I have come to realize many things, but perhaps the one that stands out the most is that I am not as humble as I once thought. The fact that I have come to this realization is the first step of finding it again. Though I seek humility, it is not the goal of my journey. The goal of my journey is to learn more about myself, conquer my inner demons, share a common interest (and the joy that comes with it) with my husband and perhaps make friends along the way. I am looking for yet another way to enrich my life. Hopefully, somewhere along the way I will find humility once again. Until then, I will continue to take my daily spoonful of humility and if it does come hard to swallow, at least I will have a loving husband to help me cope. If all else fails, then maybe I will seek out Mary Poppins and ask for a spoonful of sugar!