For a week, I couldn’t sleep. Trying to fall asleep was a challenge: I was partly convinced I need to use the time to visualize the upcoming event I was attending, trying to see myself succeeding, but instead falling into a strange meditative state that wasn’t quite sleep. When sleep finally came, it was broken. I woke one night panicked that I had heard something. It wasn’t just one worst case scenario that mind was stuck on — it was all of them.
Then Friday came. On my drive from New Jersey to Pennsylvania, I could feel that uneasiness at the pit of my stomach start.
I was shooting in one of the biggest archery tournaments around, and it was my first time on the line at a competition since last January.
By most people’s measures, this would have been a bad idea. You don’t go into a competition so green, with hardly any regular weekly practice. But I was going to spend time with friends more than anything else.
There are many reasons I shoot: To discover who I am. To learn what I am capable of. To dig deeper into my psychology. To meet new people. To be with friends. To challenge myself. To flirt. To learn how to be in a moment deeply and fully.
Two weeks prior to the competition I had shot a 501 in a practice round. If I could shoot that on the line, I could have potentially been towards the top.
Instead, the exact opposite happened: I bombed.
It was the worst case scenario: 5 missed shots, problems with my form, and a terrible score. All of the target panic I thought I had worked through came flooding back. I literally had the worst day of shooting I could imagine.
And yet, it was exactly what I needed.
Sometimes, you have to live your worst fears to get over them, to realize you can survive them.
Once I realized I had pretty much hit bottom, all the pressure I had been putting on myself eased. I was able to make some really good shots. I wasn’t obsessed with scoring anymore; I was just shooting for myself and trying to execute beautiful shots. Even then, I could still feel a bit of the panic, but it began to die.
What I valued even more was that I could find myself in a terrible situation and not allow emotions to overtake me. I didn’t break. In fact, I had fun. I laughed with friends and encouraged others. I kept smiling. There was a resilience that I had never seen in myself before.
Maybe my score was a losing one, maybe I was even in last place, but it was a different type of win — one that I needed more than a high score.
And maybe that means that in the bigger picture of all that’s happening in the world right now, this reality may not be one we want but rather one we need to break through finally.