I never worked harder towards something than in that devastating summer.
When I was younger, around six years old, I used to practice karate and I wanted to become a black belt to prove I was capable of being strong and defending myself, and over the next five years, I would climb the ranks of the belts and go through trials, tricks and tribulations to get better and stronger. I would spar with others and tested myself in hand-to-hand combat and with weapons like the Bo, nunchakus, Kama, and a katana. I took this practice and made it my goals that eventually I would get that belt, no matter how long it took.
Over time, I worked towards the title of black belt in my classes and practices of the art. I continued onward through any roadblock, so I would be prepared to take on any challenges. It urged me, it tempted me, and it wanted me to reach that final line that showed I had completed the painful trek. All the build-up and torturous, work-until-you-pass-out sessions would be worth it in the end.
The memory that is most keen in my mind was very first training session in preparation for receiving the black belt. It was one of the main times over those years that I thought, “Is this worth it?” It was an overwhelmingly hot day, like we were all sitting in a pot of boiling water. We went through countless endurance and cardio warm-ups, multiple techniques performed against a dummy or a trainer, and, worst of all, a lot of running. In that heat, the conditions were torturous; nevertheless, we all continued onward through the class. The constant running was starting to take its toll in the desert, all the students either felt sick and stopped or worked through the pain.
I worked up until my body’s limit, but then my stomach caught up with me and I went home early due after a long time in the bathroom. Those days over that summer were terrible, and every day I had to go to the class, I did not even feel like going. I persisted and continued onward, focusing on that final destination, saying to myself, “If I don’t make it, fine, but at least I can say I went down trying,” and with that, I had made it through the trials.
On that final day for which I would be granted the prestigious off-black piece of fabric, I felt a sense of accomplishment that after all this time I finally made it to the finish line. I created this challenge for myself and I had accomplished it.
After a few years, I had stopped my practices after gaining the belt; however, I still look back on that experience to this day. Those years enabled me to make choices on what to set my sights on and develop my abilities in. All those times I was tested brought out the skill in me and allowed me to become a stronger, confident person.
Even after all this time, I still see that one goal, persistence will lead to success after many attempts and errors in the goals you create for yourself. A lot of goals that one has today are short-term since it seems easier and gives immediate pleasure, but we all need long-term goals. Those never-ending, hard-to-reach goals are what make a life exciting, and when I finish one of them I feel a sense of pride and achievement, and that achievement, for me, is that slightly off-black, worn-out-to-the-point-of-no-repair belt that I still have to this day, as well as all the others I have earned along the way.