I was expecting to go to Worlds this year and reach a certain number. A certain rank. A certain win. What I came home with was very different than my expectations. I came home with a less-than-stellar performance. A loss of numbers. A loss in my head. But I realized it was never about winning at all. It was something else all together.
A California State of Mind
This year going into Worlds I had a different outlook. After the Seattle Pro Am in early December, I was feeling strong and confident. I had just went through an entire training cycle without injury the first time in over a year and PRed on both Jerk and Snatch. Even it if wasn’t by much, it was still a big win for me to not lose ground on getting hurt.
However, going into Worlds I felt the wind fall out of my sails. I was mentally going through some pain, even if my body wasn’t. I began to lose motivation and in the end I should of taken care of myself better before competing in December when I wasn’t originally planning to.
The training cycle this time around wasn’t as physically grueling, but I could feel in my heart I was just going through the motions. Rather than making time for training, I was just fitting it in where I could. Often late at night and alone, after a day full of work and the weight of what was happening in the world. I kept having to say out loud that I was competing when people asked and every time I felt like I was lying to myself. I had almost committed to this competition for everyone but myself. I didn’t want to admit something that had been silently plaguing me and that competing was the last thing on my mind.
At the end of last year, I could feel how sad I was. I knew I couldn’t last in that constant state of uncertainty and emotion. I had to take control. I couldn't hide what had been crippling me for months. I finally admitted to myself and to the ones I loved that I was suffering from depression and I needed to find a way to bring myself back to a state of peace.
When I was finally honest with myself and the ones I love and trust about what was happening to me, I started to feel hope again. That I might be able to become strong again with the support I had been hiding from. At the beginning of the year, I vowed to take care of myself. The formula came from changing the routine and break the pattern of negativity:
I reduced the amount of screen time I was spending, on social media and reading breaking news every time I picked up my phone.
I gave myself a list of books to read—both self help and fiction—to replace that time spent on screen and going out and buying them, piling them up in several places at home so they would always be within reach.
I stopped spending time in places or with people who I felt had become a negative influence on my outlook on the world and also on my own identity. As heartbreaking as it was, I had to push away people who loved me but were abusing my love in return, whether they recognized it or not. Instead, I spent that time with the people who were the most supportive and never hesitated to connect with them.
I vowed to reconnect myself with my spiritual side and get back to the person I was most proud of, my at-peace and present-in-time self.
I stopped treating training like a chore and began to build my mental strength along with my physical strength again.
With most of my focus shifted on my mental health, I have to admit my work ethic wasn’t as steady during this training cycle. I often changed what I would work on that day depending on how I felt. My recovery and nutrition suffered as well, but I took it day by day. In the last few weeks leading up to the competition I tried to visualize what I actually wanted. The numbers I needed to reach clouded my head. I had no time to question if I was ready, it was just about getting through the lift.
This year I decided to volunteer as a judge. Let me just say, hosting an international competition of this size is a lot of work! The folks at Orange Kettlebell Club always pour so much heart and soul into the weekend to make it run smoothly as possible and I praise them for their hard work! Volunteers are the foundation of support, so I wanted to do my part as a member of the kettlebell sport community. It reminded me of while playing roller derby, I volunteered to referee during scrimmage once and it was like lifting the curtain and seeing the other side (referees have a HARD AF job, hats off to you all.) and realizing how overwhelming keeping your eye on a million moving parts is.
My first lift of the weekend was Jerk. This lift has always predominantly been my stronger lift, so I was less concerned about finishing the set and trying to keep up the pace I had been working at. I felt strong and confident for the first 6 or 7 minutes, then I started to look and the clock and try to do the math. I hate math. I would I try to do it while I was lifting 70kgs of steel over my head? That is when I started to loose steam and lose focus. In the last minute where I thought I could make up for it, I fell apart. My left arm gave out and I was only able to put up 2 clean reps. I ended with 78 reps, just 2 more than I had done a year ago. I felt defeated. I didn’t feel I’d have the numbers to make up for it the next day.
The final day of the weekend was my weaker lift, Snatch. During the training cycle I was working so hard on increasing my pace by 2 reps. My training partner helped me develop a conditioning program to be able to bring my cardio up to the demand. And it was working. I was able to do so and stay on pace until my set ended 2 and a half minutes early. My grip had completely failed me and so had my mind. Earlier that day I had got on the table with the massage therapist and she pointed out that my left pec had taken over and my lat wasn’t firing at all. It was a compensation I had missed during the whole training cycle, which forced me to switch earlier than I planned. I was only able to put up 116 reps, 10 short of my PR and 5 more than I had done last year in less time.
I Hate California
This is what my face looks like when I thought I wanted it bad enough and didn’t get it.
I was hugely disappointed in the moment. I had set my expectations so high, but in reality the want didn’t meet the work put in. To stay present and not fall backwards, it is better to look at what I learned. In reality, I didn’t meet a goal I had set more than a year ago under different circumstances. And goals—like life—can change with time. It is now clear that my goal was really to show up and stand on the platform and face myself. To stand there and feel the struggle of what I had been dealing with and finally lift the weight of my depression off my chest.
I reflect now and see I cannot measure this kind of success in numbers or reps or time. I rewatch the footage and on the surface see my frustration and disappointment. But if I truly look, I can see it. I overcame something more meaningful than a rank to prove something. I proved to myself the value of doing something for me. I fought past the darkness and put up my best for where I am at.
I fought for myself and guess what? I’m still standing. I’ll take that as a win.