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These Moments Don't Define Us, They Create Us

It’s taken me a while to sit down and process my emotions after my last competition. Long story short, I didn’t perform as well as I thought I would, or as well as I knew I was capable of. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that success and accomplishment are so much more than the numbers lifted on any given day. In the moment, I felt as though I had failed; but there is so much more that I am able to take away from the experience, and that I hope to be able to share with all of you. As I reflect on my experience, I am reminded that there is no such thing as failure; as long as you are willing to see it as an opportunity to learn and grow from. Every situation can be used to fuel your fire, as long as you humble yourself enough to accept that failure is not final, and it is certainly not fatal.

As tough as it was to walk off that platform feeling defeated, sad, and disappointed, I am so incredibly proud of my brave and humble heart for being able to continue fighting; even when my head was telling me it wasn’t worth it. Although things didn’t pull together for me that day out on the platform, I was able to maintain my composure and focus on working hard to post a total. While the numbers may not reflect it, this meet certainly made me a stronger, humbler, more resilient person and athlete.

I had worked so hard to prepare for this meet; I stuck to my training plan, my nutrition was dialed in, and mentally, I couldn’t have been in a better space. As I took my attempts, I grew increasingly frustrated as I continued to see red lights after each hard-fought lift. To have put in the work and time over the last couple months leading up to Vegas, and then to only get credited for two lifts sucked. It hurt, I was embarrassed, and I was crushed. I knew that these were all routine attempts that should have been easily made. I wasn’t nervous at all, so I couldn’t even blame my poor performance on nerves. I just couldn’t seem to put it all together that day.

I walked off the platform, took a deep breath, and headed to the restroom where I could be alone. I gave myself a minute to feel the disappointment, frustration, and sting, and then got myself together enough to walk back out and gather my belongings. I sat down to check my phone, and I had received a sequence of texts from a friend; “I’m super proud of you and what you did. It’s a big deal. These moments don’t define you. They create the new you.”

In that moment, I couldn’t give myself any credit for what I had just accomplished. I mean, hell, I had spent a year away from any competition—let alone NATIONAL LEVEL competition. I had spent 14 months away from moments, situations, and experiences like these. I posted a total, I never gave up, and I fought my heart out until the end—even when nothing seemed to be going right. I got to participate in the largest weightlifting competition in history, alongside thousands of other athletes, including Olympians, American Record holders, and World Team members.

I was so devastated by my performance, I was unable to see that there is no such thing as a failure if you can take something valuable away from the situation and experience. You simply cannot fail unless you choose to not learn from your circumstance. I couldn’t see that the setbacks that day were nothing but the building blocks to put me in a stronger, better position next time around. As much as I kept telling myself, “You can only get better from here, this is not the end, this is just the beginning…,” it was so hard to see how or why this could be a fundamental step in my comeback. All I knew was that it had to get better, and all I could do was accept the circumstance, move on, and grow from it.

As little fun as it was to only have made two out of my six attempts, I came out a better version of myself. If there’s one thing I can share from my experience, it’s that these are the moments that have to happen to you; good days will never mean as much without the bad ones, and it’s never a bad day if you can find one single piece of positivity in it. It’s in these tough moments, when we get to decide how we’re going to react to our situation. We don’t necessarily get to choose the things that do or don’t happen to us; we only get to choose how we respond, and how we can make sure that we come out better for it in the end. While it can be difficult to respond positively in a challenging situation, you have to be able to hold on to that glimpse of hope or positivity—in any form you can find it. The most encouraging prospect when facing adversity is that these moments don’t define us, they create us; and we each have the power to use these moments to create better, stronger versions of ourselves.

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I could have written this exact thing about Vegas. I have one point to argue with you on, however: there are no “routine attempts!” Keep fighting, Sister, I’m there with ya! (About twenty kilos back, but with you! Lol)

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