Sometimes You Have To Grow Into Your New Belt… And That’s Okay.
We recently received this question from one of our readers:
“After being a white belt for so long is it normal to kind of almost resentful having the blue belt because of the responsibility it seems to entail… I am a new blue belt now, and super excited to have it but at the same time I kind of hate it because that means I’m supposed to know what I’m doing but I still feel like I don’t… so I guess the question is, now that I’m a new blue belt how should I feel about it, should I resent it because “no more white belt mistakes”? Or should I be more embracing of it and what it comes with? I don’t know how to feel seeing as I don’t feel I was really ready for it after I was given it.”
Sometimes you have to grow into your new belt.
For starters, let’s dispel the myth of responsibility. The only responsibility you have is to do your best. I’m an above average purple belt competitor, and to this day I still get tapped out by lesser practitioners in training, I’m PROUD of it. I’m PROUD to make white belt mistakes in training, because the more times I make those mistakes in training, the less I’ll make them in competition.
You don’t get to decide when you’re ready for a belt for a reason. Your instructor watches your progress and decides when they want to wrap that next belt around your waist or that next stripe around your belt. Don’t worry about the validity or lack thereof of your rank. There are days that I run through upper belts and then get absolutely demolished by lower belts. The belt doesn’t have any relevance in this context.
Resenting rank is actually normal. What’s the difference between a new blue belt and a long-time white belt? The color of their belt. Their skills are just about the same; the belt doesn’t bestow any magical powers. If you take a black belt and have them wear a white belt they still have the “black belt skills.”
I’m writing a lot of words here to give you some options of how to think about your situation, which is a situation that I think most people experience when they get promoted to their next rank unless they were vastly under-ranked before. The most important takeaway is that as long as you’re doing your best, you’re doing enough. If you mess up and get tapped on some white belt stuff it doesn’t matter. If you have a bad day on the mat, it doesn’t matter. Just train.
The biggest concern is that you’ll decide to quit over these feelings. Don’t. Talk to your instructor and other more experienced practitioners in the training room, and tell them about how you’re feeling. Chances are they’ve felt the same way at some point or another. For me, the realization that everyone on the mat is human and fallible, that no one expects perfection from me or anyone else, has made the journey way easier.