Jiu Jiu’s note: This was sent to me in January by Flossie. It got buried and I just uncovered it. As you may remember, Flossie wrote an article about being a much older woman doing jiu jitsu. Her story is quite inspiring, and I hope you continue to be inspired!
Last week I cried about jujitsu BUT not for the usual reasons. The usual reasons for crying about jujitsu are 1) that I am totally exhausted by jujitsu because 2) I am completely useless at anything physical, including jujitsu and therefore 3) nobody loves me. I understand that the usual reasons for crying about jujitsu make no rational sense to anyone. Frankly, they make no rational sense to me. Because I want to continue jujitsu, I have had to figure out how to avoid this kind of crying and have partially succeeded by 1) stopping before I am totally exhausted 2) making sure I roll at least once with someone who won’t pulverize me so I don’t feel completely useless and 3) regular and stern self-talking-to’s focused on realistic evaluations of my worth to self and others.
But this week I cried about jujitsu for a very different reason and a much more unpredictable one – that is, I got promoted. I am now the extremely proud possessor of a belt in a very nice shade of blue. Now, there are a lot of people who would, I am sure, think that this is actually quite predictable and that, if you go to class two or three times a week, as I do, and pay attention and put in your effort, you will eventually achieve the next level of belt. My instructor has explained this sequence to me carefully and I do believe him. But that doesn’t stop me deciding that me being promoted is actually unpredictable.
I will say at the outset that it isn’t an entirely rational explanation but here it is.
First, I was not born athletically talented. At my small high school, you were on the team if you could run or jump. I wasn’t very good at either of those; instead, I was short and strong. There weren’t any available teams for people like me unless the tall, willowy, athletic people decided they wanted to join only one of the several teams that wanted them. That left vacancies on the less popular sports that had to be filled by people like me who were just willing to turn up and try. But, even if I was picked for the team, I always knew that if one of those tall, willowy, athletic women wanted my spot, she would get it. The only really predictable thing was that I would be hoofed off the team. So I learned really early that predictable promotions in athletic pursuits apply to those who are predictably good at athletics. They don’t apply to me.
Second, I have not devoted my adult life to physical pursuits. I was the smart girl. I like reading. I learn academic things readily. At work, I sit at a desk most of the time. I live above my eyebrows. The things I am predictably good at are things like passing examinations, and making presentations of academically complicated things, and teaching classes on obscure concepts. I first stepped on the mat of a martial arts gym when I was close to forty with the goal of learning tai-chi for balance and health. As I have said before, I did not know what I was getting myself into. But – the bottom line remains – I am not predictably good at athletic things; therefore predictable promotions in athletic things don’t apply to me.
And finally, I am a not-so-young woman. In fact, by most criteria, I am rather old. I have waved menopause goodbye (I might say, with very few regrets) and my hairdresser and I are in a conspiracy focused on my roots and the color grey. So I’m an outlier newcomer in a sport that largely attracts men younger than forty, most of whom are in fairly good shape before they start. Predictable promotions apply to the predictable jujitsu newcomer. They don’t apply to me.
So, this week, when I got promoted, I cried. At least partly, it was my irrational self crying because she did not expect a promotion and was overwhelmed that she got one. I am pleased, however, on reflection, because that was not the only reason I cried. My rational self actually predicted my promotion; after all, I have been carrying around four nice white stripes on my graying white belt for a few months now.
Jiu Jiu’s Question: What were your reactions when you were promoted? Does your story parallel Flossie’s? Please congratulate Flossie and share your own story! She reads here, and I know she’ll love what you have to say! CONGRATULATIONS, FLOSSIE!!