I wasn’t the best gymnast. I have this incredible fear of jumping and not catching myself. When I was a gymnast I was terrified of the beam, the bars, and the vault, but I loved the floor. I wanted to flip and fly around the gym just like all the other girls, but the truth is I was scared shitless.
I am legally blind. A quick activity I used to show my friends if they wanted to understand how I saw was to close your left eye about 75% and then cross your eyes and jump for the monkey bars. None of them would ever do it – some would get as far as trying to manipulate their eyes to see that way, but they’d stand below the bars confused as to how they were going to reach them. That’s too hard, was a common response. But that was my reality. As a gymnast I loved the floor because it was always below me.
For so many years I held myself back because I couldn’t see exactly where I was going – blindly jumping for things, not knowing if I would catch myself. Some days I look back and wonder how I had the courage to jump for the high bar, others Im tough on myself for not pushing through and doing better. But it’s all a matter of perspective – because if I think back, the reality was I was just scared I wouldn’t catch myself if I fell.
Success looks different for everyone
At the time, I was being brave. An outsider looking in might think I am just a girl trying to be a competitive gymnast and not doing so hot. There were plenty of girls much younger than me who were a lot better, and I would be hard on myself because of that. But we’ve all got a different starting point. For me, the biggest challenge was one that no other gymnast I knew had to face, and that was being partially blind.
We all have our own starting point. We are not all created equal – physically, mentally, emotionally. That is what makes us unique. But we are all equally capable of achieving great things, I strongly believe in that.
We are all on our own journey
After my first year of competitive gymnastics I quit. Since then, I found power tumbling (another form of gymnastics involving just the floor) and fell in love with that. I’ve found yoga, and bodybuilding, and acrobatics. I found an absolute passion for health and fitness through my short lived competitive gymnastics career that I wouldn’t have found any other way.
Do not let fear of being different stand in your way. Do not let your starting point dictate your journey. Do not compare your path to others. Stop letting fear win, it’s only holding you back. If you’re always focusing on falling, you’re never going to take the leap.
The small things you take for granted are someone else’s big achievements. I still won’t jump for the pull-up bar at the gym, but I don’t let that stop me from doing pull-ups. I’m scared to jump for the bar – even if I know it’s half a foot above me. But the crazy part? Every time I do jump for the bar, I never miss it, I feel this AMAZING sense of accomplishment, like I won the Olympics or something.
You may think nothing of it, yet it is a major milestone in someone else’s life. Everything you experience daily – walking into your home, getting into your car, going to your job, getting paid, wearing nice clothes, feeling confident in your skin – all these things are seemingly out of reach for some people. It’s your daily life, but it’s a life goal for someone else.
This isn’t to make you feel guilty for having – you should be empowered for where you are. But recognize that though the journey may be daunting, you are already so far.
We are all different
We get down and scared and lose hope or focus because of fear. Fear drives everything. But let fear be fuel while you drive for a while. Stop watching what others have and what they are doing. It’s inspirational, sure, but they’ve got a different life than you. You’re on your own path, you’ve had your own obstacles, your own victories, individual goals and dreams. Nobody else is like you. And though you may be on the inside looking out – someone else is on the outside looking in, and is so proud and inspired by your journey.