To put it simply, I’ve been stuck.
I find myself in a place where it’s hard to breathe, where I feel the weight of expectations heavy on me. It is as if I were at the bottom of a lake in an air bubble, unable to break through to the surface and the glint of sunlight I see so far away.
Let’s start at the beginning: A year ago, I took archery on full speed, practicing five to six days a week, shooting state and national competitions, traveling all over the country to compete. It was awesome — except when it wasn’t.
I had promise. I had potential. But I also had a big problem.
Archery is a sport of repetition: you breathe, pull an arrow from your quiver, nock the arrow on the string, breathe, position your left hand on the riser of the bow, position your three fingers on the string, breathe, tense the string, lift the bow, breathe, take aim as you draw back, breathe, feel your body align, settle the bow, and shoot.
If only it were that easy.
But in between breathing and moving, there are the thoughts that come at me, that drag me down: I’m not good enough, I’ll never be good enough, they’re waiting for me to fail, I know I’m going to fail because I always do, I can’t trust myself, this is panic, it doesn’t matter how hard I try, what does anything matter. The demons in my mind are monsters, fighting over the chance to claim the kill.
I have confronted some in the past months, slaying them, burning them, banishing them to places they’ll never be able to reach me from. But there are so many, and sometimes, especially when I stand there, poised for a shot and someone summons one in, I feel their power for a moment. So I learn to fight in new ways.
There are more battles in my future, more competitions, more moments where I’ll doubt if I can do this.
That is where I found myself last week, in a place where the doubt was thick like smoke around me. So I did the only thing I knew might help me: I wrote a list of all the reasons I am grateful for this struggle.
Because I’m not alone. Because others have reached out to help me. Because I’m learning the importance of a moment. Because this is teaching me what true focus and resolve are. Because greatness isn’t achieved if we give up when we encounter obstacles. Because the only person who can stop me from being successful is myself. Because I am discovering where my true power lies.
I am grateful for these opportunities, because they will make me stronger, make me wiser, make me new.
There is a way out. There is always a way out. And it is mine to create.