I threw my first punch when I was, I believe, four years old. Or five.
There was this kid, our neighbour, who (as according to the first-person narration accounts of my reliable parents) took my little trike from my baby brother. I owned that trike, and I got mad because this kid (who, according to reliable witnesses, was around 1.5-2 times larger than my physical self) made my brother cry.
When you’re four years old, you don’t have a concept of size/volume ratios and human rights. So, I punched this big dude playing with my trike. His name was Harry.
(Harry, if you’re reading this, I’m very sorry for what I did to you. I hope I did not cause you any childhood trauma.)
To this day, I’m very proud of the fact that he was this huge burly kid, and I was a skinny little girl, and I made him cry.
(Again, Harry, so sorry about that.)
And thus ended my first and last physical “fight”. Not so much a fight as it was the wrath of an older sister, but this note is about fighting of a different kind.
There are too many things that I’ve been learning during the last five months, and I’m talking about important “Aha!” moments and not just trivial things like learning how to tie my shoelaces properly or learning how to use the washing machine (though, those were all important contributions to my continuing adulthood education too). More than that, I’m learning how to live, and how to face life with all its myriad facets.
One way that I have learned to look at life is that it is a fight.
Now, I’m not a war freak (at least, I hope not. maybe. just a little?), but I will say that learning to look at life as a fight, with continuous opposing forces and your decisions and actions and destiny on the line, is something that a lot of people miss.
And I’m no expert at this. I’ve been slacking off from this fight for the longest time, around 12 years to be exact. I’ve been beaten down a few times (a lot), but that’s mainly because I didn’t know how to throw my punches. I didn’t feel like throwing punches, because when you’re lying face-down on the floor, listening to the referee slap the ground with every countdown, there’s something about just lying there doing nothing about it that’s so appealing.
The ground feels good to someone who spends more time lying on it, than standing up.
But that was back then. It’s easy to be defeated by thoughts, accusations, things that steal your joy, that take away your hope and that places you in a small corner of the hundred acres that is your birthright.
When I learned how to fight, however… imagine my surprise.
I got up, more and more. I learned to stand up, and to remain standing. I learned, and not just how to throw punches, but to use my feet, my position as an advantage. I saw my mind, emotions, and will as arenas where lions prowl, I identified areas where I was prey. I learned to use weapons, learned the tactics of the enemy that I go against, and I learned. Here are a few things that I have come to know in the fight, especially in the battlefield that is your mind:
- Seize those negative thoughts and question them. — We are mostly beaten down by our own tendency to talk ourselves down. What a terrible human affliction! To rise above this habit, make sure you catch yourself when you’re throwing a mental pity party, and stop yourself! There are more worthwhile endeavours than throwing shade at the one person who’s on your corner: you.
- Cultivate encouragement and positivity in your life and in others. — Be careful of what you say; your words are the seeds of the kind of life you live. Try this: speak only that which is uplifting, encouraging, and positive! Try to stop yourself when you feel like nagging, when you’re irritable, or when you’re gossiping. And then just watch how this one little hack will immediately change your outlook on life.
- Be fully accountable and responsible for your life. — One of the greatest enemies of a strong life is fear. And there’s no greater fear than the fear of the truth; any time you’re afraid to be responsible for something you’ve done or a choice you’ve made, any time you try to hide your shortcomings, you’re deceiving yourself. Don’t let the lie of perfection keep you from embracing your mistakes, your flaws, your incompetencies or your struggles. Face them head on, and establish that you are willing to be fully accountable for everything you do. Don’t try to “fake it”, don’t try to market your way out of the consequences of your choices, don’t try to get away with anything. It’s the only way to live with your integrity intact.
These are some of the ways that I fight my own demons. I’m still learning, actually. But with every new battle, every new lesson, every new victory and even in the temporary defeats, I know that as long as I’m still here, I’m going to get up. And I’m facing these fights swinging.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” — Joshua 1:9