It is true when they say that inspiration can be drawn from anywhere, or from any one for that matter.
For the past two months, I have been in Finland training full time on a six-month United World Wrestling scholarship. It has been quite a journey, to say the least. Amazing training, amazing facilities, and lots of amazing people. But, being in a remote place where only very few people speak good English, it can get quite hard emotionally. Having no one to turn to when you are having those rough days and you're missing home or someone to tell you to keep going when you physically can’t give anymore—that is when it starts to kick in. The feeling of doubt, failure, disappointment and loneliness. Everyone has felt these emotions at one stage or another, but for me, I think those feeling were starting to become very overwhelming at the beginning. It made me feel that I wasn't not good enough and I really started to get very homesick.
At training, I am not the best wrestler on the mat. I am not the fastest person on the mat, nor am I not the strongest person. If anything, I am the opposite. The wrestlers here are incredible, and it is a testament as to why they do so well internationally. But if anything, it is making me work harder to be at their level. I will do anything it takes to be up there with them.
But then that leaves me thinking...How do I even compare to the level that they are at?
The thing is, comparing yourself to other people is the first problem. Comparing is a very confronting thing and majority of the time it is only brought on by self-doubt. If you are doubting something about yourself or your ability, it slowly gets inside your head and only make things worse. You have to change your thinking. You are not them, and they are not you. Only you have the power to change, and the only thing you should be comparing yourself to is the person who you were yesterday.
But today was an interesting day. I had a conversation with a Finnish lady named Maria. Here in Finland, I try not to say too much to a lot of people as I am not sure if they can speak English, but Maria spoke a few words in Finnish, and then she realised as she laughed and said “You are not from Finland, are you?”. I laughed back at her, told her where I was from and the conversation went on from there. I found out she was in her early 40s and had been doing wrestling and jiu-jitsu for the past four years—what a coincidence! I asked her “what made you want to start?” she replied and told me her story about having a heart attack and it gave her a new meaning to life. Wow! What a story and what an incredible woman!
As we laughed and talked about the similarities between our countries and the two sports of wrestling and jiu-jitsu, one thing that really stood out were the topics of comparison and perseverance. We both agreed that sometimes being the only girl on the mat is hard, just like being surrounded by people which are so much better than you is hard. But that is what makes you stronger and that is the only way you are going to get better. This is why you cannot compare someone else's ability or journey to yours. They haven’t walked in your shoes, and they haven’t had the journey you’ve had. So why put yourself down?
We also talked about the outcomes to focusing on yourself as opposed to others. When you start seeing those improvements from all the tough times you've had and when you start focusing on your own journey, those are the biggest wins. When those small goals finally start becoming real - you know you did that from all the hard work you've put in. And you should be proud of that!
She definitely gave me the inspiration I needed today. It just proves that no matter where you are in life, people may not be going through exactly what you are going through, but they battle things which are similar. I just want to say, Thank you, Maria, for giving me so much inspiration today. Our little talk in the sauna really inspired me to keep going and get the very best out of this experience. I wish nothing but the best for you.
With a big few weeks of competitions ahead, I am really looking forward to becoming better every single day and increasing my chances of reaching my dreams of medalling at the Commonwealth Games next year and the Olympic Games in 2020.
Will be posting more blogs and results within the next few weeks so keep an eye out. Peace!