I Might Be Good

An odd thing has been happening recently, and I’m not sure what to do about it. People have been coming up to me and commenting on how much they admire my fighting skill, both in heavy fighting and fencing. In fact, one of my friends even said he was surprised that neither my belt nor my scarf were white.*

I haven’t been sure what to do about this. In fact, it’s even taken me several weeks to work up the courage to even write about this.

It’s hard for me to take a compliment at the best of times. To be honest, it makes me uncomfortable. I can’t do much more than stand there and stammer out a “thank you” that starts to sound ridiculous to my ears after a few repetitions. Whether I’m uncomfortable because I don’t like being the center of attention or because my internal view of myself is slightly biased, I don’t know.

Okay, that’s a lie. I do know: I tend to be much harder on myself than anyone else would dare to be. As such, it’s hard for me to objectively value my own accomplishments, as I always see things I could have done just a bit better, or taken just slightly more time to complete. I also tend to dislike my work once I complete it, especially in creative endeavors. I can’t stand to re-read my own writing, and almost all of my design projects in grad school ended with me being disgusted by them, but with due dates looming that required me to present something.

I also think of myself as quite humble, maybe to a fault. I’ve said before that I’m too nice for my own good. I also think that the things I do are not really anything that special. If I help someone, it’s because it was the decent thing to do. I don’t set out to accomplish things for the recognition; I do them because they need to get done. Apparently that’s a noteworthy trait. Who knew?

So I guess I’m not exactly the most unbiased critic when it comes to my skills. As such, I’m trying (hard) to accept the fact that my friends might know what they’re talking about. I’ve been fighting for about 10 years, fencing for a little less, and one couldn’t help but develop some level of skill in that time. I also have a black belt in Taekwondo. I’m not exactly a slouch. But it’s hard for me to see that. A part of me will always be the shy, nerdy kid.

That’s not to say I’m the best fighter out there. I’m not. I’m just trying to come to grips with the fact that I might be a good one.

So if you’ve given me a compliment lately, I say again: thank you. I’m trying hard to see what you see in me. If nothing else, I’ll try to take it on faith until I can.

* In the SCA, white belts signify knighthood, which is more or less equivalent to a black belt in eastern martial arts. A white scarf is the equivalent on the fencing field

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