Well, I did it.
I got on stage after 2 years off and by all accounts it was a success. I won the masters category and the open category – by default since I was the only one in the category. I looked fantastic, my conditioning was perfect, we got our timings right and pumped up in time – helped by the smooth running of the show and being told when to get ready, I got through my routine relatively unscathed and after conquering some seriously jelly legs in the first category (I could barely stand in my relaxed pose), I managed to relax and start to enjoy it. There was an awkward moment in one posedown where I managed to smack the competitor either side of me in the face when I went for a big front double bicep pose – but everyone took it in good grace and laughed about it – at the next posedown I played up to it and made sure I gave myself plenty of room.
And now I want to cry.
Why? I don’t know, is it just post competition comedown? Is it just sheer relief that its over and done with? Every moment has been dissected and discussed, what worked, what didn’t work, what could be done better. Could I have posed better? Why did I do a small competition to start with – was it worth it? So many people have written congratulating me, for which I thank you all, so why is it that right at this moment I feel hollow, empty, emotionally drained. I want to see the photos, yet I’m dreading it as well.
I have been writing about this moment for 2 years, and although on the surface I’ve been projecting calm rationality throughout the whole process, inside I haven’t felt the confidence and belief that I’ve wanted, needed to feel. I stand on my heels in front of the mirrors at the gym and I’m uncertain and hesitant, thinking through each pose, critical of every perceived flaw.
Where has my confidence and self belief gone? Why am I not feeling inside what I’m showing on the outside? Why can’t I just snap into my poses? Why do I go to pieces as soon as someone watches me – it happened again this morning, Aiden walked into the studio where I was practicing and I instantly got the shakes. Have I made this into something it’s not? Why have I been so driven to do this and why did I get such bad stage fright?
Am I crippling myself under the weight of my own expectation? What are my expectations? Do I really want to do this or is it just the process that I enjoy?
What am I trying to prove and to whom?
It doesn’t help that the feedback I’ve got so far has been very conflicting – on one hand my legs were ‘too soft’ (!!!) yet they were clearly the best on stage. I could barely stand upright in my first category, yet I ‘posed like a pro’ and even came across as arrogant and over confident in the overall! the other girl looked like she wanted it more…no way, I was intent on nailing it by the end. I looked better earlier on in the day…yet I had the best pump at the end, even my tan apparently got paler throughout the day…really? By the end I had at least 3 coats of dream tan on top of the base of 5 coats of contest colour!
As I always do when I’m experiencing internal conflict and doubt, I question myself to see if I can find an answer or solution that allows me to find solid ground from which I can move forward.
Why did I do a small show first?
Because I’ve been writing about and telling myself it’s what I want to do for 2 years – I needed to see if it really was. I needed to get back on stage and see how I went. I needed to see if it really was something that I enjoyed. I needed to know if my physique really was as good as people have been telling me it is, by physically standing next to another competitor.
In short, because it terrified me and I needed to rid myself of this crippling self doubt.
Did I achieve all of that, I think I did. And the fact that the head of the federation made a point of coming up to me after the show to compliment me on my physique (especially my butt – last year I was the ‘surfboard butt’ model at a fitness seminar on inactive glutes), and ask if I was going to the Nationals, spoke volumes.
Was it worth it?
Yes. This show wasn’t about trophies or titles. It was about getting the monkey off my back and I did that. Sure I was a bag of nerves and looked like a total novice to start with – you could see my legs shaking from the back of the auditorium, but I somehow held it together and got through it. The second category was better, still a little shaky on my feet, but I was smoother in my transitions, I understood the order of the poses better (its different from every other federation) and hit my poses better. By the end I had relaxed into it and was beginning to get some confidence happening. Game head was on, I knew I looked the best I had all day and I was intent on posing everyone off stage.
Somehow I’ve got to turn that intent from the appearance of over confidence to the appearance of ‘wanting it’. Ok that gives me something to work with.
This show was also about testing our process, finding out what worked to get my condition just right on the day.
We nailed that.
So now I’ve got 12 days to regroup, refocus, find my feet and make sure my legs really are as rock solid on stage as they actually look.