The ongoing joke I have with myself is that I must be subconsciously picking hobbies that will make me unattractive to only the most intrepid.
First it was shooting guns. Now, it’s boxing.
I was a marathoner for a little while, but the time, energy and costs wore me down after a bit.
So during life transition 2013, I decided to give myself the gift of boxing classes.
I’ve always been a passive boxing fan, rooting for Manny Pacquiao, before him, Mike Tyson (his love for pigeons and all) and before him, the greatest of all time, Muhammad Ali.
The only thing that gives me pause is getting hit in the face. Or knocked down. Or both.
I’ve got enough natural body padding (ahem) that I hope my ribs aren’t vulnerable to any mild sparring. But first things first. I’ve only had five classes. I was thinking about this Brene Brown book, and a great Theodore Roosevelt quote that opens the book:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
I’m in the arena. All the time. So are you.
She says later in the book that she doesn’t take feedback/criticism from anyone who isn’t in the proverbial arena, fighting. LOVE.
And that message for me came right on time. I think it’s applicable for most messages we get from popular culture about single women, except that I don’t take advice about dating from other single people. Because they’re in the same boat, uh, arena as me, and if they had answers, they’d have made more progress, right?
What’s more important is that I don’t take feedback/criticism from people who aren’t striving to be better and aren’t interested in my efforts to make myself better because it highlights their insecurities. All of my closest, dearest friends are women in the arena in one way or another, and I’m grateful to count some men in that category as well.
- You might get beat up while you learn: I have accepted that I have limited hand-eye coordination and that I’m probably going to harm myself while I learn. I’m always sore. I like it because it means that I’m trying, stretching, doing something different, using different muscles. This is what dating and flirting is like when you’re single. Every time you put yourself out there and the date is a bust or all he wants to do is text or he’s just not that into you or you’re just not into him, it’s like getting smacked on the shoulder when you’re slapboxing, figuring out how to block yourself from stupid. There’s also the emotional workout. I said to my instructor that I wasn’t that coordinated and she paused. After I threw a few punches she said, “You’re coordinated, you just think too much.” Sounds like my love life!
- It looks easier and more like fun on television: It’s hard not to consider TV the devil, which is easy for me to say because I only have a couple of must-watch shows these days so that I can actually get some writing and reading in. But while I’m considering getting back into courting/dating/whatever it’s called these days, I know that those great dates that include flowers and nice, non-awkward outings really only happen on old TV shows that aren’t even on-air anymore (looking at you Sex and The City and Living Single). So it is with boxing. That fancy footwork looks easy until you try to do it. Same with the jab, cross, hook. It’s all fun and games until you try to wrap your hands and end up looking like a cat raided a bolt of yarn in a frenzy.
- It’s great practice for learning how to fight for yourself in the rest of your life: I really hope I don’t have to ever punch someone in the face to defend myself, but it’s nice to know how. I’d like it if I didn’t spend the rest of my days relying on non-human sentient beings for companionship, but I can’t call it.
- No one is born knowing how and you can’t teach yourself: Single is nice, but it doesn’t come with instructions in a world where most people anticipate that you’ll be part of a pair. So, it takes practice learning to be one in a world of twos. The same is true with boxing. You can guess and glean some things on YouTube, but you never really know how to do it right without guidance.
- It makes you think about your fitness (physically/spiritually): It’s been long enough since my last relationship that I have a very clear idea of what my weaknesses are and what my strengths are when it comes to love and dating. The same way I know that I prefer writing in the morning and working out in the evening to the reverse, so I love that most of the boxing classes I’ve been taking aren’t at o’dark thirty.
- The whole world is an arena: Not just a stage. But every day and every moment is the arena, and you get to choose how you step into it. You get a whole different kind of confidence when you own yourself and your life and everything in it. Self-possession is a beautiful thing. I can feel the confidence making my spine straighter when I walk. I don’t have the same slump, not even when I’m sitting down, because of the stress I let out when I’m hitting the bag and the slow strength that comes with working really hard.