Home > Brazilian jiu jitsu, Challenges, Judo, Life, School > Learning to Love the Things You Hate

Learning to Love the Things You Hate

I think it’s important to force ourselves to do things we don’t want to do.  I don’t mean the little annoying stuff like, “I’m tired and I don’t want to go to the super market after work”, but things that seem maybe a little too hard or a little too scary. If you don’t force yourself to try, I don’t think you can really move forward in life. For me, these are the sort of endeavors that might make me feel nervous/insecure/incompetent and therefore frustrated and angry.

I started thinking about this last night at judo practice (I’m promise this post is not exclusively about judo for my non-judo buddies).  As I watched one of my clubmates work on his uchi mata, all I could think was, “I hate uchi mata.” And I really do hate uchi mata. I hate getting thrown with it. My dad says osoto gari is the worst throw  take a fall for because of the slam factor, but I disagree. Maybe it’s because I’m short and the people that practice uchi mata at my club are much taller than I am, so having someone’s leg jammed between mine as I get flipped through the air is extremely unpleasant. I also hate trying to execute uchi mata. I can’t get the momentum right, my balance sucks, I don’t know really understand the mechanics to finish the throw, etc., etc., etc.  In essence, I hate uchi mata because it’s hard for me. I made a vow the last time one of my instructors reviewed the technique that I was going to learn to love uchi mata. Or at least not hate it.

I have similar feelings towards ground work in judo (the pinning, choking, arm lock stuff). While I’m passable with standing techniques, my mat work sucks. So naturally, I hate mat work. I developed a huge inferiority complex because my clubmates are really good at mat work and a lot of them cross train for Brazilian jiu jitsu. So I started taking BJJ classes, too. I am undoubtedly a remedial student. You practically have to move my hands and legs for me in order for me to understand the techniques. BJJ is like a giant, ever-evolving puzzle to solve. To get the pieces to fit right, you’re constantly switching your position based on your opponent’s reaction. It’s a lot of thinking, which eventually should turn to instinct. I have no useful thoughts when it comes to BJJ, so  good instincts are a long way off for me.  Thankfully, my instructors are mega patient so after many slow repetitions, I sometimes get an idea of what’s going on. I don’t love BJJ yet, but I think we’re at least getting to be friendly acquaintances.

I don’t just force myself to tackle the difficult/unappealing in my judo life. Since I was in my late teens, I’ve been making concerted efforts to try things that require some extra thought, effort, and commitment. It’s either been through exchange programs, collectives, community projects, or just moving really far away from home just to see if I can make it.

When I made the decision to go to grad school for social work, I realized there was something I needed to force myself to do. See, I want to work primarily with women. Women tend to have kids. It made sense that I should get some experience working with kids. But I’m  not really nuts about kids. I like them on a kid to kid basis, but overall, I was never one of those girls who was dying to babysit or be a camp counselor.  I think part of it is that I often don’t know how to communicate with children in a natural way so I avoid interacting with them. But in terms of my professional growth, I really don’t want limit myself. So fearfully and reluctantly, I applied for an Americorps term of service working for an educational afterschool program for low-income kids in North Philly.

Working with those kids was extremely tough for me. Of course, despite requesting to work with any age group EXCEPT middle school, I was a co-leader for a middle school group. I am not physically different enough from a middle schooler to posses a natural presence of authority. Plus, preteens are basically driven by hormones and insecurity, and when you combine that with extremely difficult, unstable home lives, you end up with some pretty hard personalities. A lot of the kids were really smart, really sweet interesting people, but depending on what was going on at home, they could turn into little dragons at the drop of a hat. My co-leader and I had to break up physical fights, which I never pictured myself doing.  I still don’t think I clicked very well with the middle school kids, but I did learn that I work really well with kids younger kids, around age nine and under. Whenever I assisted with one of the younger groups, I had a blast. It’s a pretty big ego boost to have a bunch of little kids running up to you going, “Miss Lori! Miss Lori! Miss Lori!” and wanting you to play with them or give them a hug. It was pretty awesome.

My field placement for school next year is with a transitional, long-term housing program for young homeless mothers and their children. While I will be working primarily with the mothers, I will also be assisting with some of the kids’ programming. Had I not pushed myself to do that Americorps term of service, I probably would be terrified to start my field placement next year. Who knows? I might have even turned it down and asked the school to place me somewhere else. Instead, despite the inevitable challenges that come with social work, I’m really excited for next year.

  1. May 27, 2011 at 09:47

    Good for you, and in an effort to support you in your quest I am going to allow you to watch my baby girl….to help you gain experience. No need to thank me, I am sure watching her will be reward in itself!

  2. May 27, 2011 at 22:02

    Eric, I always appreciate how helpful you are. You’re one in a million, buddy! 😉

  3. May 31, 2011 at 23:32

    It’s natural for some people to want to take the easy route, but folks like us, LL…we like to swim upstream! I’m still where I am in the organization that I work with because I am being challenged to walk the walk that matches my talk, and it’s hard! And I want to quit! And I KNOW there are other organizations that would fill my heart, but are just easier…in the suburbs. In a different neighborhood. With different adults. But, like you, I’m a fighter. So, here we are! Maybe I should start doing judo? Anyway, thank you for filling me up today and reminding me why I should get through tomorrow!!

  4. June 1, 2011 at 00:17

    Brandi, if I haven’t told you already, please know that you are in my file of “Women I Want to Be Like When I Grow Up”. Seriously. I remember the training you and Lava ran during my AmeriCorps orientation. I was feeling pretty iffy about the whole day, but when you started talking, I was just like, “Wow. That is who I want to work with.” Your passion and dedication is instant and infectious. And don’t you forget it.

    PS: You should definitely start judo. There are not nearly enough women practicing!

  1. June 8, 2011 at 20:58

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