The other day Hudson took a pretty nasty fall and banged his head pretty hard. Between the cries, he muffles “I got back up, that means I am a champion.” I didn’t hear him quite clearly and I honestly didn’t expect something of that stature to come out of his little mouth. He said again, in a happier, more excited tone… “I got back up mom, that means I am a champion!” I literally almost cried. My four-year-old son taught me a greater lesson that day then I could ever teach myself.
Typically, I am someone who is pretty self-critical. Lately, my mindset has been this crappy spiral of negativity, stress, and hopelessness. I have tons of confidence in myself, but I tend to think of myself as lazy. I don’t do enough, I don’t accomplish enough, I don’t make enough money, therefore I am not successful. But when I heard Hudson mutter that he was a champion just for getting back up, it made me emotional.
I thought back to the time when I was pregnant, severely depressed, recovering from an abusive relationship and the death of my son’s biological father. Just like Hudson, I was down. I felt like I was kicked to the floor and I wasn’t ever going to get up, but I did.
I didn’t realize it then, but I just recently realized it once Hudson taught me, that I am a champion! I got back up, I went back to school, earned my #1 position back on my tennis team. Although, times did get tough again. A year later I tore my ACL and once again I felt like I was kicked to the floor. I could either redshirt and go back for another season after 12 months of extensive and painful rehab, or I could stop now and save myself a lot of time as well as physical and mental pain.
There were teammates of mine who asked me if I wanted to go back because if it were up to them, they would just be done now. Here’s the thing, that is just not me. I don’t quit. You know why? Because there have been many times in my life where I have had to deal with a lot harder things, and quitting now would be a complete disservice to myself. Getting through depression, loss of a loved one, abuse, and pregnancy taught me that I am capable of getting through anything.
So, ten months later I was back on the tennis court playing #1 again. In my mind, not only was I going to come back from tearing my ACL, but I was going to EARN my #1 spot back. I rehabbed six days a week for 2.5 hours at a time. I challenged myself. When I was finally cleared by my doctor to start running, I would push myself to the point where I was practically falling off the treadmill. Sweat would be falling off my face so fast that I could hardly see out of my eyes because they were stinging so bad.
When I was finally able to get back on the tennis court, I practiced the full three hours with my team, but I would also ask my coach if I could do an extra hour before practice because I was determined to be my best. In our team workouts, I always wanted to be the first to finish a sprint or squat the most weight despite the limitations with my knee. I didn’t do it for the need of self-gratification, I did it to show myself what I was capable of. That despite my bad knee and time off the sport, that I was just as able as anyone else.
My senior season ended up being pretty good, I set high expectations for myself even though I had basically taken a year off of tennis. Setting low expectations would have set me up for failure because I would be ok with average results. When I lost, I was very hard on myself and when I won, I didn’t celebrate because I expected myself to win every time I stepped on the court.
When my tennis season finished, I never felt proud of myself for accomplishing everything I did despite my setbacks. Now that I am looking back, I am completely proud of myself. Every singles match I ever played at BYU was at the #1 singles position, which is very difficult. I beat many ranked players and made it to the final rounds of most of the pre-season tournaments I competed in. The majority of the doubles matches I played in were at the #1 position as well, and I ended up being ranked #38 in the nation my final year. I am not telling you all of this stuff to toot my own horn, instead, I am telling you this because I know that if I can do it, then you can do it too!
Most of our limitations exist in our minds. If you don’t think you can do it, then, well, you can’t. It is as simple as that. When you really focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t do then you will find yourself achieving a lot more. The times when you’re nervous, anxious, or scared, you need to take a deep breath, close your eyes and tell yourself that you can do it because you can!
Many times in life we fall down, we get banged up, broken and hurt. We can choose to stay down, feel sorry for ourselves and cry… or we can get back up. We tend to be very hard on ourselves and overly critical. Even when we do get back up we don’t even see that getting up in itself is an accomplishment of its own. Start being proud of yourself for the little things like getting back up, and you will start to see that you have a lot more love for yourself than you originally thought you did.
I fell down, I got back up, so I am a champion… and you are too.
Here are some books that have helped me gain a positive/ champion mindset: