Everyone deserves a solid punch to the face. I’m going to tell you how I got mine and why it was exactly what I needed to grow as a person. It was, in essence, my rite of passage.
I was the definition of a spoiled child. My parents cared and provided for me. I could do no wrong. I had my bullies, but I never fought them, and no one ever got physical with me. I felt safe, but afraid, and keenly aware of how weak I was. After a while of living as a sensitive, thoughtful boy, I resigned myself to believe that’s just how things would always be. I could rely on my good looks and social skills.
Part of me always knew that none of this was sustainable. My beauty would fade, and I couldn’t charm everyone. Some humans are simply insane and won’t have any compunction about harming me. Thus, I took an interest in martial arts. I trained, and learned lots of moves, but never really applied them. Sparring scared me; I wimped out. I stopped martial arts after a while, deciding I knew enough. I got chubby and ever weaker. My ego grew along with my body mass.
Pride prompted me to get back in shape. This was presently accompanied by an urge to resume martial arts training, and so I learned boxing. It was amazing exercise and exhilarating to learn. I was feeling good until sparring came up again. Then I was in a pit of terror. I fought through it and got in the ring.
My first opponent was as scared as me, so we went easy on each other. My second opponent was fitter, faster, and a much heavier hitter. He trounced me good, but my pride told me to stand my ground and keep trying to fight. Seeing I was weak, he hooked me in the temple and I went down. It took me two minutes to rise, and I had never felt so ashamed, ineffective, agonized, or humiliated in my life. I was angry and embarrassed to the point of tears, which I held back with all my remaining willpower.
The man who defeated me was kind enough, and I could even see that he felt a little bad about how things went. I was in a haze, but I gave him a fistbump and a nod; I was not angry with him. I was livid at myself for being the way I was. My coach said not to be embarrassed and to take this as a lesson to keep up my guard. I was in no state for conversation, but I understood. When I left, I went to my car and wept for about ten minutes. The despair was potent, but even then, I knew there was no turning back. I needed to prove myself wrong about how weak I was.
When I came back to sparring, I fought a taller opponent who worked in a prison. I was still afraid, but less so. I learned that I could dodge and outmaneuver bigger people, and I was using that to my advantage. He got in a few jabs to my head, and I kept thinking “I don’t want to hurt another human being! This is wrong!” but then, at the fourth jab, I snapped and charged in. By the time the fight ended, he a bloody lip and nose. I felt terrible about hurting him but also accomplished in knowing that I was capable of doing harm if necessary. I became just a little stronger that day.
My rite of passage was being laid out by a mighty blow to the head. I was broken and shattered. I was emotionally deconstructed by the experience. It was because of this violence that I could begin building a better me. I realized that my pride needed to be ruined in order for me to grow. My pride means nothing if I don’t possess the qualities that I imagine for myself. That all takes work, facing abject fears, and being humbled. I believe it’s the only way to truly achieve greatness.