Written by: Amateur Muay Thai Fighter-Jillian Bosserdet
Quickening heart rate.
WHAT AM I DOING?
I need some water.
WHY AM I DOING THIS?
I should turn around.
And I opened the door.
Yup, that was me describing me opening a door, a very specific door, but none the less, a door.
Seems a bit silly, but in that moment, you would’ve thought I was stepping in the ring for my first fight (that’s a different head case of a story for a different time.)
That was just me opening the door to my first time training at Tampa Muay Thai.
I had never heard of Muay Thai until I saw an advertisement on a bus bench. I had never dreamed of actually going to the gym when I saw said advertisement. It was like one of those things you say,
“yeah, that’d be awesome to try out,”
but in reality … you never actually go.
And I probably wouldn’t have gone, if it were not for manners and Halloween.
Dressed as a little red caboose, I walked my little cardboard boxed self down the street in search of my friends in other trained themed cardboard boxes. I shared my walk with a stranger who was on the opposite side of the street walking parallel to me flipping out on the phone about how awesome his fighters did tonight.
Color me curious (and also, polite.)
He ended his call and there we were walking in silence in the same direction at the same time.
I piped up and said “Happy Halloween!” He returned the sentiment and proceeded to wish me a great night. I said something like, “sounds like you’re already having one, blahblah, tell me more about this fighting thing you were, basically, yelling about.”
That’s all it took for Jalal Khatib, owner of Tampa Muay Thai, to dive into telling me all about the gym and the fight team and training and Muay Thai.
And I mean WOW was he passionate, excited, and completely in love
with everything Muay Thai and Tampa Muay Thai was.
I started believing I loved it too and I didn’t even really know what it was!
He told me they offered free intros and, as a college student, free sounded pretty good to me.
The bus bench advertisement had already tickled my curiosity and now this guy had me believing I was already a member of the gym…
SO, I told a complete stranger to YES sign me up,
I’ll be there. (Liquid courage may have played a part in this automatic commitment.)
We parted ways. I bet he thought he’d never see me again as he went carried on with celebrating the Tampa Muay Thai Fight Team.
You all out there don’t know me and even now, I’m a completely different person than I was then.
That entire scenario was completely and utterly out of character for myself.
(Cough, cough. Liquid courage. Cough, cough.)
Shy and self-conscious, really doesn’t cover who I was.
What made me yell out to a person I didn’t know “Happy Halloween!” I am really unsure. I always try be polite, but I really could’ve let that human go on living his life happily celebrating without the gesture. But I said it and here we are, 11 fights later.
Boy, did I NEVER think I was going to get in a ring.
(Scroll up, if you forgot how nervous I was just about going INTO THE GYM.)
I had a bad case of stage freight that really seeped into my everyday life –
any stage, big stage, small stage, no stage.. were people looking at me?
Consider me terrified.
So what was I doing going all by myself into a place where I knew no one and nothing?
Jumping off a cliff.
You have to feel your heart beat out of your chest,
the sweat trickle down your back,
the (I’m going to get a little whimsical here…) the winds of change in your face…
you have to jump.
You have to go for it. Sounds absolutely cliché and motivational speechy right?
Well, clichés are clichés for a reason and motivational speeches work (people are paid big $$$ to make them and we all listen and feel all tingly inside because even for just one moment you believe in yourself and the $$$ to hear someone really tell you what you already know was completely worth it.)
Sometimes, you have to look at what you’re afraid of square in the face and do it anyway.
You may very well be 100% still afraid and you may not shake that feeling for a few days, or months,
but sometimes it’s what scares us that will bring us the most joy or create new doors of opportunity.
Who’s to say what will happen when you jump?
You already know what will happen if you don’t.
I can say with complete certainty that jumping right off that cliff of mine into Muay Thai was the best decision I have ever made.
Alright – I digress.
Sweaty palms (Hi, that’s me) over here opens the door.
Shins crack against leather bags hanging from steel.
Elbows cut through the air landing hard on pads held inches from someone’s face.
Tribal – like noises escape mouths attached to exhausted looking faces.
This looks intense. Maybe I should just –
“Hi! Are you here for an intro?”
Well, it looks like I’m staying.
My palms got sweatier.
My hands got shakier.
My legs got weaker.
My heart raced faster.
I really don’t think I mutter an audible sentence the entire hour.
But something hooked me.
I was fascinated and excited and scared all at once.
I think I went to class every day that month and then gradually started staying two classes and then three. Most of the time, I still didn’t talk to anyone other than what was needed to train.
I still felt butterflies every time I went into the gym.
I still felt nervous that people were looking at me.
But my desire to learn and train outweighed the butterflies.
Slowly… I mean snail slow… sloth slow, I started to feel at home in the gym.
Familiar faces, who had always greeted me, started to become friends as I found a new confidence in myself that I had never known was there. I even noticed that outside of training I was pushing myself to more outside my comfort zone.
The more I learned the more I felt comfortable in my own skin,
the more I found myself becoming happy with the person I was.
Moral of this little story:
Jump off the cliff.
Being introverted, shy, or a naturally nervous human being doesn’t need mean you don’t deserve to enjoy the hell out of training. It just might be a little harder for you in the beginning, but hey,
that’ll also make you a little tougher.
5 years & 11 fights later, I still get butterflies… now a days they wake up when I’m heading into the ring. Whether I’m fighting internationally where no one knows my name or at home in Florida in front of all my family and friends, they’re still there fluttering about reminding me to enjoy every moment of this irreplaceable ride. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. They’re a reminder of where I’ve been, who I was, and how far I’ve come. The ups, the downs, the pain, the joy – all of it is embodied in those little guys. They breathe life into my fight, give me the strength I need to perform my best. Muay Thai is really a beautiful thing; my butterflies help me find grace in the fight, humility in confidence, and a sense of comfort in the ring.