For those of you who are reading this and don’t know me, I’m a graduate in Sports and Exercise Science in the University of Limerick and I work as a strength coach in ACLAÍ.
Firstly, I’ll start off by letting you in on my training history. By the age of 7 I had done various sports such as swimming, Irish dancing, ballet, soccer (on the road with the lads). At the age of seven I started Taekwondo in which after 13 years of training and dedication, I attained a second degree black belt and represented Ireland at numerous international competitions and more importantly learned how to train consistently and discipline myself both physically and mentally. By the age of 20, I knew that Taekwondo wasn’t for me anymore so I started boxing. Straight away I fell in love with the emphasis on high intensity exercise, the mindset of a fighter and the notion of being strong enough and tactical enough to fend for myself. I kept training away in Boxing at University and in a local club in the North side of Cork City. I just knew I wanted to get better and be the best. A few months later, I did a course in Olympic Weightlifting which spurred on my pre-existing interest in weight training. I’m not going to lie, the idea of being a 53kg girl and stronger than most of the surrounding boys made me feel powerful.
From the age of 20-23, I trained and competed in both Boxing and Olympic Weightlifting with an emphasis on my boxing training. I knew that boxing was my true passion, I’d walk around work throwing out punches unknown to myself but Olympic Weightlifting seemed more appealing for my social appearance. A lot of people commented on my lifts which I posted on facebook and I’m not going to lie I liked the attention but this was no reason for me to give up boxing. In my last year of college, I tried a few boxing classes in College but it didn’t feel the same. I had also gotten a few comments from other people around the gym saying that I should stick at the Weightlifting and that it was “more cool”, why I listened to this is above me to this day. My true passion was and is with boxing. When I train in boxing, I just totally zone out of everything else in my life and want to become the best possible fighter there is. I knew this but still I let people’s opinions and ideas sculpt my decisions. So I gave up boxing and focused on Olympic Weightlifting. It was weird everything started to fall apart when I gave up boxing, I wasn’t happy. I was trying to be someone else to get a few likes on facebook. Even though I am very close to getting international standard and representing Ireland in weightlifting, it’s just not enough for me, I don’t love weightlifting the way I do boxing.
With the splurge of people living their lives on social media, it is easy to see why people begin to care so much about what others think of them but I have had enough and I won’t let it make decisions for me again. Now, I am hoping to get straight back into boxing and give a good whack at it. As some people might say “Shak is back”. I will definitely keep lifting to prevent injury and keep all my strength gains. But for now, I’m going to hang up my chalk and put on my gloves.
What I did to counteract this
(1)Make a conscious decision to stop caring what other people think.
Now and only now, do I try to make a conscious effort to ignore people’s opinions of me. Why should I care what others think of me or what they think would better suit me? I know what I want and I know what makes me happy so now I’m going to carry on and live my own life and not worry about what people think of me.
(2) Follow your heart not what’s cool or what gets you the most likes on facebook.
Not wanting to sound like too much of a cliché but for anyone that has ever felt a passion for something, you know the feeling, you can’t get enough of it and it’s all you think about. Then grab hold of that feeling and go with it. Stay with what you’re passionate about and if you’re not doing something you’re passionate about get up and do something about it. Surround yourself by good people and get mentors that will guide you in the right direction. My mistake was enjoying the compliments about my new bum that I grew from weightlifting and the likes I would get from a heavy squat video. Yes, I am human and I enjoy attention but I wish I blocked out all the social media and others telling me that I should do Olympic Weightlifting instead of training in boxing
(3) Don’t be a sheep
Just because your friends do a sport or it’s good to do to advance in your career doesn’t mean it’s a good enough reason to do it.
(4) This applies to all parts of life
If you’re not happy with your job, your training, your lifestyle, don’t ignore your instinct. Get up and do something about it. Make some goals and go get what you want. Nobody ever got anything by waiting for it to miraculously appear.
To conclude a quote from the very wise Ms. Maya Angelou which summarizes how I feel "Whatever you want to do, if you want to be great at it, you have to love it and be able to make sacrifices for it."
This article was written by Shakira Coonghe BSc.