My sophomore year in college, I signed up for a kickboxing class. I wasn't certain of what I wanted exactly; I just knew that I was looking for something to happen inside of me. Perhaps I thought it would make me feel more put-together and self-assured and maybe I would feel more like a rockstar and less like the perpetual underdog. I even purchased boxing gloves. If that wasn't kickass, then I didn't know what was.
I approached the first day thinking we were going to immediately jump into roundhouses and uppercuts. We spent most of that first class learning warm-up techniques, one of which forced us all to gallop around the large room in a circle. “Gallop to the left!” “Okay, now switch ladies! To the right. The right!”
Other warm-ups included leaping about and shaking our hips to Britney Spears and Jay-Z. This was meant to get us loose and limber, I suppose. The only thing I felt however was stupid. Ridiculous. Idiotic. Most of all, awkward. Why did I feel so silly? Like an impostor? A failure? Everyone else was doing exactly the same things that I was. Somehow, I didn't feel that I belonged there, even among the galloping and shaking.
It wasn't until years later, long after I retired my kickboxing gloves, that I finally understood that these feelings were quintessential to my general behavior and outlook back then. It wasn't simply the class that I felt like I didn't belong in and wasn't good enough for, It was my entire life.
Everything I did back then was tinged with the belief that I wasn't really supposed to be there. That at any moment, someone would walk in and tell me that I was nothing more than a phony and would I kindly leave. My great job, my salary, my home purchase at 19, putting myself through college, even expanding my horizons and trying new things like kickboxing. None of these successes belonged to me, because I didn't deserve them. I was a nobody who came from nothing and was always told that I would never amount to anything. This kind of upbringing didn't exactly foster confidence in my abilities.
As I grow older, I grow wiser and sturdier in my beliefs. I grow more self-assured. I have children of my own now and when I think of the girl I used to be, I always feel a little sad. It took some soul-searching but I finally realized that I am deserving of praise. I am good enough to continuously take things to the next level in my life. My successes are mine alone and they don't have to stack up to the next person. I am strong enough to stand on my own two feet. Most of all, I do belong. I am an integral piece to the puzzle that is this life and it makes no difference whether I'm galloping around a room or throwing punches like a rockstar, I matter as much as anyone else.