I have a theory that in life we take on one of two roles at any given point - that of student or that of teacher. For much of our life from the time we are born we are immersed in the role of learning, of figuring things out, a perpetual student. As we grow and evolve and have children of our own, take on life full steam ahead I think we naturally segue into a more teacher specific role, because hey - been there, done that. I KNOW what I’m doing so please let me grace you with all my knowledge…
Or so I thought.
This past Friday I had the opportunity to take part in a comp at our gym. I, along with several other brave souls, signed on the dotted line, agreed to equal parts of excitement and fear, held ourselves to the accountability factor as we got ready to participate in our gyms first “Rookies and Vets Partner Comp". Given that I have been a lioness in the ring with other lionesses, I was considered a vet. And wouldn’t you know someone actually WANTED to be my partner. Sign me, up! Cue the theme song to Rocky! I was ready to help my rookie, help her navigate the nerves, the ropes and weights and be the teacher.
Boy. Was I wrong.
The Role of Student
As I said before, we spend a great deal of our life being students. Being schooled, prepared, educated on the world and what lies ahead for us. We read books, we get tested on what we know, we have to show and prove in a myriad of ways what we know, how we know it and how what we know can be implemented in life. So much fun. Said me never.
I believe that we should always be learning. Always always always. It is when we lose that love for learning, that drive for education, that need to know more that I think we stop growing as a person. I’m not saying that you need to crack a book and spend hours on hours dissecting the Pythagorean theorem but you need to keep your peepers and your ears wide open to the lessons of life that are happening around you. Because trust me when I tell you - those lessons are happening daily.
The Rookie (aka Student)
I told you this woman, she asked me to be her partner. Asked me. That in and of itself was awesome because - well, it blows to not be picked. Jules chooses me, we make a game plan two weeks out from the comp. She’s young and has young children whereas I am old and my children are older. Jules has a life that is more structured and schedule oriented and centered around a home with small children and a busy career, leaving her small windows of free time to get to the gym and fit in her workouts. She’s got a can-do attitude, an infectious smile and a desire to have a great time and make some memories. That was all.
Or so she thought.
The Role of Teacher
Teachers wear a lot of different hats. From instructors in school to parents that set the bar high to trainers and so many others that spend copious amounts of time showing us, presenting to us, demonstrating the right way to do things. To lift a heavy weight. To fix a car. To care for ourselves and those we love. How to make great tacos and ice down a 12 pack. To live our life to the fullest.
I think it’s those that help to guide us and steer us in the right direction that are so essential in life. Think back - don’t you all have that one teacher, that one person in your younger years that was instrumental in keeping you somewhat on track? That cut you a break when you so desperately needed anyone to believe in you? To teach you the right way? I know I did. (Thank you, Chip Tudor!) Call them life coaches, accountability partners, bosses, parents, choose a hat. But they all teach us lessons that are essential in creating our foundation, establishing our character. A-MAZ-ING!
Veteran Status (Teacher Teacher)
This is a little weird, writing about myself as a teacher so bear with me. I have veteran status simply because I have competed in some other comps and have a fairly good understanding and competency of most of the weightlifting, etc. Old, semi-experienced and a willingness to subject my body to things that most 46 year old women in their right mind would say - hard pass. All of that = the veteran. But like Jules, I had no desire to come and do anything other than have a great time with my partner and make a memory. Help her however I could, be a good teacher.
Boy. Was I wrong.
Rookies and Vets
A little back story about the comp. It was scheduled for a 7:00 pm start time this past Friday night. Now, on a typical 7:00 pm Friday night for moi I am in my mom sweats, settled on the couch with a big fat Titos and soda, watching Wheel of Fortune, counting down the minutes until I drag my tired carcass up to bed. Working out at 7:00 pm has all the appeal of getting a colonoscopy. But I made the commitment and my Rob and my Jax readily agreed to go and support.
Nervous energy was high, events were given and Jules and I began our strategizing. The first event was one where Jules and I were very evenly matched. I won’t bore you with the details but suffice to say you had to pick up something heavy, squat it then throw it over your head. While not letting go of the bar. You had six minutes for both you and your partner to get it done and your score was you and your partner’s individual weight combined.
We stuck with our game plan and hit the numbers we both wanted with two minutes left on the clock. So we went for five pounds more. Jules had a minute left and had to walk away - struggled with that final rep. With 23 seconds left, she grabbed that bar, loaded with 120 pounds - and completed the complex. And it was a beautiful thing. And the best moment of my night.
And you know what she said to me? “I needed this. So bad. I needed this right now for me.” And it hit me. I was not the teacher that night. I was the student. I was the one learning from Jules. Humbled by her grit. In awe of her sheer determination to rip that bar off the floor and do it. That this comp was not about us as veterans sharing our experience with the rookies but rather the rookies teaching the old dogs new tricks. About grace. Perseverance. Heart. Cohesiveness. Teamwork. I left that night with a full heart, knowing without question that what happened on that gym floor that night, that was life changing. For Jules and for myself.
And, as always, there in the background, silent but watching is my Rob. The gym is more my world than his. He goes to work-out and then go home. I go as much for the social aspect of it as the physical reward. But he went. And he watched. And he coached. And he cheered. And he took a back seat and let it be a night about his wife. And, as you can see in the picture, the night served as a lesson, a precious reminder about what it means to love and support your partner. By simply being in the background and letting me have my moment.
Be always learning. Open up your eyes, your ears, your life to the lessons that are surrounding you always. Do not sell your days and nights short and think that you know it all because let me assure you that YOU DO NOT. This one time on the merry go round is made richer and fuller from our experiences and don’t stop growing by being resistant to being the student, the rookie. Learn from this life so that you can live it to the fullest.
And, Jules - thanks for choosing me!