Martial Arts Meditation Instruction

are you ever too old for test anxiety?

It’s been almost a week since the test and I’m just now writing about it because, well, it was a lot to process.  I had some crazy test anxiety, didn’t sleep well the night before, got woken up super early by the rumbling of snowplows…  I had so much test anxiety I could barely eat, and that was good because…


I threw up through about a half hour into the test.


Talk. About. Embarrassing.  I mean, it wasn’t on the floor of the classroom, thank god, but geez.  Being escorted out to hurl while your teacher listens and escorts you back in?


A lot of the test I don’t remember–it’s a blur of heat (small room with 19 black belts sitting in the front watching, another 20 black and red belts in the test) and sweat and nerves.  We did push-ups of course, and top Ninja had us stop for a lesson about the importance of excellent quality push-ups.  And guess what?

I was asked to do push-ups, alone, with EVERYONE watching. I am not confident in my physical abilities, so I can only imagine the deer in headlights look on my face when top Ninja said “white belt, five push-ups.”  Thank god I didn’t throw up right then and there.  Others would do it alone as well after me, but being the first, I thought maybe he was singling me out? I had no clue at the time what was going on, so in my head, all sorts of thoughts (and negative self-talk) are streaming quickly by (whoa, were mine that pathetic that I’m singled out?)


I’ve written about my push-up “challenge” practice.  Since Thanksgiving, I’ve been working on a program given to me by a black belt, and have been working on it at home. I’d started to feel some pride about that.  At my age, I’m doing my first full push-ups of my life.  Seriously.  On an incline, I’ve doubled the number I can do from 5-6 to 12-14.  And on the floor, I can do 8 push-ups at once, and I’m almost low enough for them to be “full”.  And remember, taekwondo push-ups are on your fists, not palms.  I sat in the test and was told to start practicing at home. You should be practicing these at home.   It was a little disheartening to know that, actually, I had been, but I knew coming into this that I was not a natural athlete.


I did try my hardest.  The part that felt fun in the moment was kicking targets.  The sound of my foot hitting the target is this super-satisfying second of noise and connection. (The targets are made like a big castanet. When you hit it, the two pieces hit each other, making a snappy SMACK sound).  I also love doing Poomsae, because that’s my comfort zone.  After a decade of tai chi and qi gong, a poomsae is at its core the same–a series of martial arts movements woven into a dance, although taekwondo poomsae has some sharper, faster motions.


Despite the embarrassing and nerve-wracking bits, as I get further away from the actual event, the feelings of test anxiety are replaced by some pride and satisfaction of knowing that I did it.  I stuck with it long enough to do a belt test. Not too bad for the nerdy girl who, at various times during elementary, junior high and high school seriously dreaded PE.


Funny enough, just last week I was wondering if I would have “enough” to write about as I continued on this journey.  Surely I would settle in and have fewer “interesting” things happen to me.  Ha!  As the Irish curse goes, may you live in interesting times.

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