Mindset. That's the tough part.
It isn't the actual workouts, or meal prepping, or any of the physical acts that make competing "hard." It's the mindset. The self-talk.
I walked in to the gym at 5am today, a reel of motivating, positive self talk spinning through my head. What immediately followed, however, wasn't so encouraging. I started judging myself for mentally talking myself up so freely. The reel that began to play instead was an imaginary list of what I thought most people would want say to me if they could hear my excitement and optimism. It went something like this:
Be realistic. There's no way you're the best, so why are you even expecting to have a good experience? Other people surely have been training longer than you. Your excitement is stupid and naive.
Now, let me clarify that I don't actually believe that negative self-talk. But that's exactly why it struck me so deeply- I don't believe it, yet it continues to pop up.
Its as if in an attempt to protect ourselves, we subconsciously want someone to tell us we aren't capable of accomplishing our goal, because even in misery, sameness can feel more comfortable than exploring new territory. Dedicating yourself to a new goal means that you inevitably must let go of some old self-identifying ideas that conflict with said new goal. That all points to change. And change can be scary.
If you tell yourself every day that you are trying to do something you think is impossible, chances are you will make sure it remains impossible. There is something to be said for the idea that we "don't attract what we want, we attract what we think."
In short, if you've entertained the idea of accomplishing something that gives you excitement and purpose, but keep waiting for a sign that you're good enough, you're never going to feel like you're good enough. Get out of your own way, be aware of your self-talk, and don't limit yourself to being "realistic"- that is, after all, just a code word for mediocrity.
-The Wonder Vegan