The Fear

There’s something I have noticed about myself since I’ve come through my teenage years and left my gymnast days behind. I am now nearing my mid-twenties and have begun to realise that a part of me is missing. It’s not that I feel less of a person but there is something I really miss about myself.


 

As a gymnast I was a hard worker, stubborn and fearless but now I am just a hard worker and stubborn. I no longer have the firey fearless persona that the other gymnasts admired in me and that my coaches loved about me. I can confidently coach others to perform upside down moves on the beam or giants on bars and tell them to just “go for it” but when it comes to it now,  I can’t just “go for it”, I am terrified to perform a back flip on the beam or a twisting fly away dismount on bars, not only in gymnastics but also in life.


 

 

As a young girl, I would do anything, never embarrassed. I would do a full routine with my bum hanging out of my leotard – I once insisted on finishing my bar routine in training even though my leggings had split right down the middle from jumping into a straddle upstart, leaving the older girls in tears laughing at me! I wanted to try my hardest to get the technique of a move right as quickly as I could so that I could perform it without support from my coach, to feel that I had really achieved something. I was cheeky, a show off and some might say over confident.


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I have been trying to discover when things changed. I was forced to retire at 17 and began to train casually as an adult from 19. The devastation of having to retire made it difficult to begin training again casually, mainly because of the physical pain but also the emotional pain. Eventually things got better as I understood technique and biomechanics more and I was able to achieve moves easily, even if it was on a casual basis, I knew ways to avoid hurting myself or putting too much stress on my recovering injury. Throughout these years, I went through the emotions and situations that any normal person does, heartache, depression, defeat and loss of a family member. I think each of these experiences maybe took a little part of me with them, they took my fire.


 

 

Apparently as a baby, I was firey and active, my parents have recalled many a time that I would crawl out of my cot as a baby whereas my brother acted like the normal baby and just slept! I think that gymnastics kept my fire burning and developed it into something special. I will always believe that gymnastics contributed largely to the person I am today.   When I go out and will be around people I want to look immaculate, I want to appear confident, a similar feeling that I would get when stepping out into the middle of the floor to perform a routine, maybe I see people as an audience. When I am going somewhere special or to something important, I like to take my time and get my head in focus. In an argument with someone close to me I am stubborn, I know what feels right and want to do it my way.  When I feel I have done something right or made the correct decision and someone tells me I have not or that I have failed at the task, I am gutted, I don’t take corrections too well. When I work, I have to have things organised, clear in front of me and tend to do things exactly to the book, I want it perfect and will try hard until I get the perfect result for a deadline.


 

 

I remember being 16 and on holidays. A facility on the island was offering bungee jumps, I was convinced that I was going to do it, in the end we didn’t have time (although maybe my parents told me that so that I wouldn’t give grey hairs early!). Now, I will not even go on the same rollercoaster that I would have gone on several times in a day every year! Ask me to get up on the beam to do a flip or to do a flyaway on bars and I’ll have to think it over several times.

 

 

 

The knock backs in life have certainly extinguished some of that fire that gymnastics nurtured, developed and matured in me. I miss that confident “get up and go” attitude about myself – since retiring it has slowly but steadily begun to diminish.  As a gymnast I would never question myself, consider what others would think of me or think the consequences and “what ifs”  through thoroughly. Maybe it’s my age, I’m getting older,  I’ve seen the world and read the news. I’m getting to the harder part of life and maybe it is that I don’t want to take risks as much, if any. I am still me but I would very much like this part of me to return, I’m not sure if I feel complete without it.

 

8 Comments

  1. Brian says:

    Hi ,
    I think this post struck a bit of a chord with me when I read it earlier today. As a more sedate kid who has taken up sports (primarily running, Marathon on Monday eek!), I can’t relate directly to you, but I feel the sentiment is he same not matter how one is raised. I have found similar happenings in various areas of life, relationships (emotional baggage from previous relationships – maybe that’s just me!) and work (people get bored 3-4 years post-college to go travelling). The key, then, is to find out how to keep yourself fresh and make things interesting. I don’t think we can ever have that fearlessness that we had as kids, we naturally become more mature, but we also gain other skills which should bring us just as much joy.

    I hope this makes some sense – and keep up the good work 🙂

    Brian

  2. Admin says:

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks a million for your comment, it’s always lovely to hear back from readers and to know that you are enjoying the blog! I think you’re right, we can’t be as fearless as we were as kids, it’s a pity because I really miss it! I’m glad that you understand where I am coming from. Best of luck in the marathon on Monday, hope the weather keeps up!

  3. fargo says:

    Just read it and loved this post! It definitely hit a chord with me as well. While I retired due to injury, I am still frustrated with the fact that today I can’t just up and get going with something physically (unfortunately the injury is one that I will carry with me for the rest of my life) The other thing that struck me though was what you mentioned about having fear about the skills you used to do. I kid you not, I remember getting up on a FIG beam not a month after finishing training and thinking to myself, “What, were you crazy?” I was petrified and could no longer believe the stuff I did up there, let alone even imagine doing it once again. Strange considering how much it still longed to be training.

  4. Admin says:

    Thank you so much for your comment. It’s comforting to hear that someone else has felt similar emotions. I would give anything to be training at the standard (or higher!) I was or to attempt everything and anything like I used to! I hope that you’re in as much comfort as you can be with that injury, I know it’s tough 🙂

  5. Ivy says:

    I certainly can relate. I’m now in my forties and back in the gym coaching and training (well, working out really). I’ve got some of my skills back, but certainly not my mojo. I can stand on the beam, do a full turn with hesitation, even a handstand, but I’m terrified to do a cartwheel. I’m tumbling on the tumble trak, but forget about doing it on the floor and I’m petrified of twisting. I can’t even do a squat-on on the bars for fear of what – falling onto a mat? Perhaps it’s something that happens when we get older – maybe we get some sense of sanity! I long for those days when I would just try it because it might be fun. I think it would also be easier if my whole body didn’t hurt so much after being in the gym. Still, I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

  6. Tim says:

    You express yourself very well. I went from not trying things when in my teens to going all out (racing cars & motorcycles, etc) in my 30’s. Now I’ve settled closer to where I started. When I look back, I wish someone would’ve urged me to “go for it” when I was younger.

    Now that I’ve had 3 serious injuries playing volleyball, common sense is telling me to stop playing but I just can’t. It’s one of those growing old things I guess.

    I try to encourage the girls I coach in the way I wish someone would’ve pushed me.

  7. Admin says:

    Thanks for reading and commenting Tim 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I definitely agree with you – I coach in a way that I wish I was coached.

  8. Admin says:

    Oh coaching is great for working out! All that lifting kids and equipment! 🙂 I definitely think it’s a sense of sanity, pity the second guessing leaves us doing things we really should just go ahead and try! I long for those days too but now it’s a case of “what will happen if?” etc. You’re right, I wouldn’t give it up for the world either 🙂 I love hearing about other people being so passionate about gym!

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