Funny how little things can throw us into deep reflection.
On Friday, I failed a lift. I'm not sure what happened; it was a weight I know I can lift. It felt like the bar caught on something, like the weird bends of this badly designed rack at this discount gym. Whatever the reason, I got stuck on my squat, right in the pocket (the very bottom of the squat). It sent me on my ass in front of everyone. Because of course it happened the one day I decide to go to the gym in the middle of the afternoon rather than at 10PM as is my habit. So I get knocked on my ass with a bar full of weights on top of me, and I'm forced to let it roll off my back and onto the safeties.
What did I do next?
I got mad, stripped half the weight and power cleaned the bar back onto the rack. I put all the weight back on and I finished my fucking set.
That reaction made me realize something. I'm not afraid to fail anymore. Better than that, I'm not afraid to fail where people can see me. Whereas a year ago I would have felt mortified (and probably ended the workout right there) now I just felt angry. Angry at myself for failing. But I didn't just stay in that anger; I used it to go ahead and finish my set. The anger drained out as soon as I finished. Really I was angry because I knew I could finish this set. That lack of fear, which somehow I've just now noticed, has been so necessary this past year. It's what's allowed me to step into a wrestling ring in front of a crowd with just a few hours' noice. It's allowed me to fully throw myself into a character on camera.
I was asked (or probably volunteered the advice, knowing me) how you can fully get into a character without feeling embarassed. I think it was a wrestler who'd asked me. We were fewer at this practice, and rather than run the ropes or work on some chain wrestling, we ended up talking about character development and doing promos (the wrestling equivalent of acting). One of the points we'd touched on was how to let your character inform the way you act in the wring and the way you wrestle. Specifically, we were applying it to whipping your opponent into a corner. We talked about how a wrestler with a "psycho" gimmick would do it: big eyes, weird sounds and a choice comment about the way your opponent smells. In contrast, a character like mine would slowly walk to the corner, displaying himself all the while, and very casually toss an opponent into the corner, overly confident in his own strength. Taking the opportunity to show off my acting knowledge (gleaned from hours of studying...YouTube videos), I described the difference between classical and method acting, as I understood them. I think I remember giving a strong disclaimer on my thorough lack of expertise, and how heavily biased I was towards method acting (lacking enough skill for anything else). That's when the question came. "How do you become your character without just feeling embarassed?" I don't think my answer was particularly well received by the asker. "You just need to do it. There's no secret. You keep doing it until it becomes second nature." I think they weren't very satisfied with the answer. I don't know if they were expecting a specific secret or technique, but looking back now I should have realized how much I grew in this specific area. I used to be extremely self-conscious about being on camera, especially when I had to portray a character. I knew my every move would be scrutinized and criticized. That's not conducive to a great performance. But after a year of trying shit and failing repeatedly and very publicly, I didn't have that fear anymore. It's only helped.
Losing that fear is what's given me the balls to document my process, all aspects of it, and to share thoughts I'd otherwise keep on notebooks stashed in closets. It's crazy to think all this introspection came from one failed squat.
The best part?
I almost skipped that workout.