I typically do not post personal writings. I tend to stick to fact based topics related to Jiujitsu or fitness, but I decided to share this story. I titled it as part one because I feel like there are going to be many different chapters in my journey.
A very long story short, growing up my childhood was rough for lack of a better word. I do not need to go into specifics because it is in the past, but I faced more adversity as a child than the average person. As an adult I can look back and say confidently it has made me an extremely strong person. However, growing up with obstacles and challenges led me to being a fairly rebellious teenager and college student. So it’s an obvious statement when I say, I’m so thankful I found Jiujitsu.
I quickly gained stability back into my life while training. It grounded me mentally, physically, and emotionally. I fell in love with the sport and the lifestyle. I ate better, I stopped partying, and realized I was living such a healthy lifestyle. I started making bonds with people that I knew would last a lifetime. Long story short, I was genuinely happy doing something I loved. It turned my life completely around. I will always be so thankful to my coach and team that brought me where I am today.
Skipping ahead a couple years, last December I took a trip to California. I had never been and wanted to go out and train, and see what it was all about. The past year had been rough, as I went though a terrible breakup, left my job, and was coming up from just a tough point in my life. Easy to say, I fell in love with everything there. The weather was beautiful, the training was great, and the people I met were amazing and had quite the impact on my life. As my trip came to a close, I was actually somewhat sad to leave. When I got back home, I kept telling myself California is where I want to be. Someone that I met and trained with in California had said to me, “If you want to be a world champ then why don’t you move to San Diego?” Another person I had met said to me, “Go home and pack your bags and then just come out in the next two weeks.” These two statements had the most impact on my thought process. At first, don’t these statements sound almost…crazy? Like, what?? Just move to San Diego, by myself, across the country? No way. I can’t do that….or could I?
So, I booked a place for two months…almost like a test period to see if it is really what I wanted. As summer approached quickly, I chickened out. I found myself with a million reasons why I shouldn’t move, even though in my heart it is where I wanted to be. All these excuses, however, were based off of other people’s feelings. I was focusing on how other people would feel if I left, rather than what I actually wanted. Do you ever find yourself doing that? You are more worried about the reactions of other people in your life, rather than just living your life for you. I believe it is human nature. We don’t want to upset or disappoint the people we care about, so sometimes we want to do something, but are too scared.
Anyway, so I did come out in the beginning of summer but just decided to stay for two weeks. I figured another vacation here to train would be fun and better than nothing. I think it was the second or third day into my trip, where I found myself saying I don’t want to go home. I’m just so happy here. So…. I didn’t. I stayed with just a suitcase of my things and my gis. How many of you saw that coming? Probably everyone.
I was able to get a small job, and I joined the gym of my choice and stayed in California. Now as awesome as this is, I do believe people forget that with any life changing, drastic decision, there are a LOT of rough times as well. I think people tend to forget to include the tough parts of any journey, so I will. Moving 3000 miles away from home by myself was terrifying. Missing my friends and my family is so hard everyday, especially because I never actually said an official type of good bye. On one hand, I am glad though because I don’t do goodbyes well, and I know myself enough that I would have chickened out again. Dealing with being homesick is something I never quite had to deal with, and saying it’s hard is an understatement. Getting phone calls and texts everyday from the people you love, telling you how much they miss you always makes you question your decision. Did I do the right thing? Telling my coach back home and my teammates was awful. I felt guilt on my part because I didn’t want them to think I just abandoned them. I will always be so thankful for them, and I am beyond grateful that my coach said I am welcome back when I do come home. Sometimes you just need to do things for your own happiness, and I hope everyone understands that to some degree. Jiujitsu is my passion, and with any passion, it involves sacrifice. By no means, was this an easy decision.
Finding a place to live, getting a job, making it all work…it is SO hard. Things don’t always go your way, and I realized that quickly. I had someone con me on a decent amount of money right off the bat when I tried renting a room, and the day before I was supposed to move in she raised the price 2000 dollars. Luckily, I got my money back and had one of my very close friends let me stay with him until I was able to find a different place. Emotions are a roller coaster. I don’t know if it would be any easier if I was a guy, but as a young female it’s tough. I think it is important to stay focused on your goal though. Always remember why you made the decision you did and be ready to accept that there will be hardships along the way.
I have had many different reactions on what I did. Some people say I’m crazy, other people say it is inspirational and motivating, some people are annoyed with me, but ultimately it is my life. Many people don’t understand. Everyone my age is getting engaged, married, working a corporate career and I couldn’t be any further from all of that, but you know what? I am happy, and I’m not sure everyone doing all of those things can say the same. If you really look around, you’ll see people are merely existing but not truly living. Our world is so focused on money and materialistic things, when really people should focus on enriching their lives with experiences and friendships that matter.
I am sure I will go back home at some point. Home will always be home, and it’s true when they say home is where the heart is. For right now though, I am happy here even with the ups and downs. I am forever grateful Jiujitsu has become my life and has made me who I am today. I am also thankful for everyone here welcoming me with open arms. You’re all amazing and I’m so happy I have the opportunity to train with you. I never thought I would be on a journey as incredible as this one. I’m grateful for absolutely everyone I have met along the way, and I do hope everyone back home knows how much I do love and miss them. I am especially thankful to my parents for raising me to be as strong as I am and for believing I can do this. Everyone has different goals and dreams, but I think the most important lesson is to follow your heart and your happiness because no one else is going to do it for you. I am very excited to see where this all takes me and I am solely focused on Nogi Worlds right now. Thank you to everyone for listening to just the beginning of my story and I will be sharing more in the future.