This picture represents just how crazy life can be and how you can never really plan the direction it will take. 10 years ago, I never imagined that I would be the co-owner of Cutting Edge Fencing in North Richland Hills, Texas with my husband David. I was single, 40 pounds overweight, working long hours in a stressful job, and letting circumstances dictate who I was. Then I discovered fencing…
Fencing is a sport, yes. An exciting, tradition-based, dynamic, fast-paced sport. But for those of us involved in it, it is so much more.
For me, fencing represented an opportunity to discover who I really was and who I really wanted to be. I didn’t like what I found at first: a diehard perfectionist who hated to lose. There were some pretty ugly moments during my first couple of years of classes; plenty of moments I’m not proud of. Tournaments where I would storm off in anger after a defeat. Lessons that ended in tears (although, admittedly, this continues to happen). Repeated failure (as I defined it) after crushing failure.
And then one day, it started to get better. I started feeling more confident about my body and my abilities. I was getting into better shape. I started winning bouts at tournaments. That felt good. Really, really good. I wanted more. So I trained more. And learned more. Talked more to other fencers about how to do better. Watched YouTube videos. And competed every chance I could, gaining more and more confidence along the way.
So much confidence, in fact, that I just couldn’t do that old life anymore. I wasn’t the same person anymore and didn’t want to continue in those shoes. David and I decided to take a risk. I quit the security of a full-time teaching position for the risk of two part-time teaching jobs so that I could devote more time and, more importantly, more energy to growing our fencing club. This is our third year in that journey. And it’s starting to work. OMG. It’s working.
Sometimes when practice is going on, I just stop for a moment and marvel at what I see. Because I don’t just see kids and adults learning about this sport I love. I see a myriad of opportunities to help other people better themselves. Ways to help them discover who they really are and, if they don’t like what they see in that mirror (like I didn’t 10 years ago), to help them find the strength and confidence to bring about change in their own life.
Now when I look in the mirror, I see confidence and determination. Fencing helped me learn how to overcome adversity, how to think quickly, and how to set goals and reach them. It’s even given me the confidence to believe that I can, one day, fence on the world team and represent the United States in international competition. Right now, I want to build up our fencing family and to help our members develop the skills they need to achieve what they want to accomplish in life.
I’ve told you what fencing has done for me personally. Please add in the comments what it has done for you. I’d love to hear your story.