I was working my other job recently and a regular customer said I looked tired and beat up and nodded to the scuff on my face. I had competed in Virginia and headed back to NC to work my job downtown logging 7 hours of driving reffing/competing then about to work from 10-4am.
He asked why.
I don't even recall what I told him, but suffice to say, whatever I did say doesn't even begin to cover the motivation(s) I have to compete.
Competition provides a sense of purpose in my life. Competing gives me something to which I can look forward. It gives me the little bit of extra push when I'm rolling or when I think "that's enough" that induces me to stay on the mat.
It forces me to go to open mats at other gyms and seek out new looks and unfamiliar rolling partners in the hopes of that little bit of extra preparation I may need.
I'm not a medal chaser in the sense that winning gives me some overwhelming sense of validation.
I don't even really like winning as much as I hate losing. The rush of winning, hedonia, in its exhilaration, lasts so briefly it's not sustainable in the sense of being what keeps me coming back. The greater sense of purpose and meaning I feel as I look back over the sacrifices I've made in terms of free time, rest, the time spent driving out of town, driving back, the nights resting in my car after waking up, driving 3 hours, competing and refereeing then driving hours back to NC to then work at my other job....the rest I get after a weekend like that is hard to describe. It's the rest of having done everything you could and having been as productive with your time as possible.
I firmly believe if you want what others have, do what others do.
If you want something more or different (not necessarily better) than what everyone else has...be willing to do what others are not willing to do. Purple belt has been a long, intense, frustrating grind coming up on a year and 4 months. Whatever training I did at white and blue abjectly pales in comparison to the work I've put in at purple.
I see the gap already distinctly widening at purple belt between the recreational level Jiu-Jitsu practitioners and the competitive or even professional level enthusiasts.
Right around the time you've been riding to Chicago for 10 plus hours you wonder why you signed up for this.
Right around the time you drove to another state and didn't win a single match you wonder why you signed up for this.
Right around the time you skip the 20th friend's birthday dinner, or the sleeping in and waking up late on Saturday morning with your girlfriend, or the Thanksgiving dinner or the whatever-the-*&^%-it-is you wonder why you signed up for this.
I don't always win but I always learn.
When I do win, I know it was paid in full by giving up other things. It's not talent. It's not luck. It's not "my day."
It was paid for in advance.