It is easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing. Someone at your academy receives a stripe faster than you did. You go to a tournament and your competitor from last year is a completely new rank. It’s easy to put a time period to a rank. However, we can’t compare our journey to someone else’s. Every person who trains has a story. Everyone’s journey is valid, and there is no experience that is “incorrect”.
One of the many things I love about the jiu jitsu journey is that every rank is earned. I forget that sometimes. Regardless of your belt color and how many pieces of tape are wrapped around it, you can look down at your waist and know you earned it. In our minds, it is easy to let someone else’s success diminish our own. Whether you’ve earned one stripe or a black belt, hard work has gone into each accomplishment. It’s something that everyone should be proud of. That’s often easier said than done.
To be honest, some days, I feel like I’ve earned my blue belt. Other days, I feel like I have no clue what’s going on. I wonder why I even have a blue belt in the first place. I’m sure this is common among athletes. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that every rank is earned, and sometimes we have off periods.
Your journey is unique and special. It is unlike anyone else’s, and is a story only you can tell. At the end of the day, we don’t know what work other people are putting in. We have to trust that our instructors are doing their best every day, and are on our side. Your instructor knows YOU. They know YOUR journey. They won’t let you down. We have to remember to trust the process and the plan. It will all come together eventually.
Just keep showing up and putting in the work; you’ll be rewarded in more ways than one. Don’t allow other people’s paths to distract you from your own. Be kind, and remember to support everyone on their unique Jiu-Jitsu journeys. They are all valid, and extremely important.
Michaela Konzem began training taekwondo at the age of 5 with her parents and younger sister. After earning her black belt, she began training Jiu-Jitsu in 2015. She loves competing and practice is her favorite part of the week. At first she was unsure about the sport, and even quit to play volleyball, but after coming to her sister’s tournament she realized she couldn’t bear to sit on the sidelines. She currently trains under Ricardo Cavalcanti BJJ with her dad and sister, and earned her blue belt in September 2019. In her free time she enjoys writing for her blog, brawnandbraids.com to inspire other female grapplers. She began wrestling for her high school’s first girls only team, last year. She also plays club volleyball. To relax she enjoys spending time with friends, playing guitar, and reading. Be sure to check out her blog after reading this article!