While I was born in Austin, in the Republic of Texas, part of my childhood was spent in Phoenix, Arizona. I was sick a lot as a kid and almost died from pneumonia twice before I was five years old during my time there. At some point in my life before anything left as a memory in my concussion altered brain remembers, I asked my parents about the name of the city we lived in and what exactly a Phoenix was.
The Phoenix is a creature from Greek mythology. Most commonly understood to be a bird that dies in fire, but rises from its own ashes. In some stories, it simply dies and is reborn from its own decomposing remains. In any case, from an early age, I identified with and drew great strength from this idea.
As I grew older, I continued to draw strength from the Phoenix myth. When I was bullied, I knew I would come out stronger, and I did. When people told me I would never become a pro wrestler, I proved them wrong, after several failed attempts. Failure was a setback, not an end. After achieving instructor rank in one martial art (Hung Gar), I tied on a white belt in another style (Taekwondo) and started a new journey. I was a blue belt in TKD, very close to my test for red belt, when I dislocated my knee. I pressed ahead as soon as the leg would bear weight and tested for red belt with my knee held together with only elastic bandage and hope.
I passed the test.
Time and time again I have faced challenges that would cause some people to quit, and I don’t back down. Why would you ever be afraid to crash and burn when you are going to rise from your own ashes?
This is a lesson sorely needed today. So many people are paralyzed by the fear of failure. This is what holds them back. Success is just on the other side of failure. Every pass that you make at it, every attempt that misses, every setback is simply honing you. Making you sharper, or tougher, or that much more prepared to be what you need to be. You are going to get hit, and it is going to hurt. Take it, and get back into the fight. hit back as hard or harder than you get hit and progress will come.
When your childhood road was leveled and paved for you, setbacks can seem like the end of the world. They aren’t. Setbacks are just setbacks. You can get where you want to be if you ignore those who say you can’t. There is an entire culture right now filled to the brim with people who only exist to tear other people down.
Give it your best shot. If you fall, get back up as fast as you can. This applies to the microcosm of self-defense, but also to the macrocosm of life. Don’t be afraid, ever.