I believe in self determination and that you can do anything you put your mind to. One of the most valuable lessons my 13 years of gymnastics has taught me is that to do anything, you must believe in yourself before starting on your goal. This lesson did not come easy for me, but I value it even more because of what I had to accomplish to end up at this realization. I started gymnastics at the age of 4 years old, and from the beginning I was taught to flip and twist like the famous Olympians I’d watched on TV. I loved being in the gym, but as I got to spend more time there, the difficulty of my skills increased. This as well as being older made me realize that I could be injured doing these acrobatic stunts. For the first time I developed irrational fears about the sport of gymnastics.
One obstacle that I will always remember, I faced around the age of 12. I had just moved up to a new level, and was very motivated to make it the best one yet. What I hadn’t anticipated was the fear of a challenging new skill on the balance beam called a back handspring. This skill consisted of flipping backwards and landing on my hands and from there to my feet. This task was to be accomplished on a 4” beam that was raised 4 feet off of the ground. All I could think about was how crazy I was to even try this, and all the ways I could injure myself. So needless to say it was in my mind that this was not going to happen. Unfortunately this was a requirement of my level and had to be in my routine. I struggled for months to get over this fear, moving forwards and backwards in my progress, to the utter frustration of my coaches and parents.
When I had thought I would be concurred by fear, I remembered what my mother always told me in situations similar to this. She would say, “The brain is a very powerful thing, and if you can convince your mind that it can happen, it can.” I never really understood why my mother was so avid in her belief in this philosophy, until I actually thought about it. According to my mother I wouldn’t be able do this skill until I thought it was possible. So at practice I decided to be proactive and change the way I approached not only the back handspring but gymnastics in general. I wouldn’t allow negative thoughts into my head, and if they slipped in, as soon as I was aware of them I would kick them out.
Eventually I conquered my fear and learned that I could be my own worst enemy but I can also be my greatest ally. Every obstacle that I’ve come across has not passed with ease, but if I believe it I can achieve it.
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