I saw her as people were starting to trickle in. She was on the other side of the gym practicing for the competition that would come within the hour. I was part of the same competition, different division, but I didn't practice. I was too nervous and worried about what others would think. Instead I sat with my friends and watched her as she went through the movements.
Her ear buds were in, and I would have liked to have known what type of music she played, as if it were some talisman to doing the forms well. Her kicks were high and balanced, her stances were low and defined. There was no hurry in her movements. Her punches and strikes were solid. I sat amazed as I watched her practice, and it came to no surprise to me that she won first in her division.
When we cross paths with people like this in whatever we do we have choices to make. My first reaction was one of inspiration. I wanted to do my forms as well as she did hers. Of course, when I got up there for my turn it didn't go so well. I took average scores home, and that made sense to me. I was nervous, scared, hated being in the spotlight, and I can't honestly tell you what I did. After the fact I considered maybe taekwondo simply isn't for me. I will never be like this girl who performed in such an outstanding manner, and I am starting way too old. But now I have fallen back into the middle ground. I may never be like her, but she isn't why I began this journey anyway. I started it because I wanted to do it, but I know I can do it better if I train and put my mind to it.
I've had to come to the same realization with everything I do. There will always be people out there who will be inspirational to me. They do what they do with finesse and talent, after a lot of hard work and practice I'm sure, but it has gone well for them. Simply because I am starting later at something, or not to their level, doesn't mean I should give up and quit, which at times I feel I should do. It's a choice, and a matter of determination and perseverance, and I may never get to where they are, but I will do the best that I can.
Be it taekwondo, writing, motherhood, creativity, running, cooking... whatever. We can't turn everything into a competition with others. There will always be someone bigger, better, and stronger. We can give it all we have and sometimes, when we are honest, we know that's more than we are currently giving. I walked away with two first place trophies from the competition. That's because I was the only person in my division. I can say, however, that I probably deserved one, and should have done better do deserve the other. There's my competition, there's my inspiration.