November 1 I found out my CrossFit certificate expired December 1. I decided to sit for the level 3 exam instead of renewing my level 1. I heard it was crazy long, crazy hard, but thankfully it was only moderately expensive. 4 hour test with 160 multiple choice questions including 40 video analysis questions covering program design, screening and assessment, class and athlete management, coaching, and professional performance and responsibilities. No sweat. If I don’t pass my cert expires and I am subsequently out of compliance with my CrossFit affiliate license agreement. And with Paseo closed down I think that would all just be too much to bear. I also had to take the test while on the road. I got off the plane in California and went straight to the testing center. I was so anxious. Like, barely able to eat a quadruple cheeseburger and fries from In-N-Out on the way to the test center anxious. The ramifications of failure started to spiral into deeper and darker spaces. It didn’t help that signing in for the exam involved two forms of ID, my photo being taken, scans of both of my palms, and a pat down. If I had to go to the bathroom they did it all over again. After 40 questions I was pretty sure I was going to fail. 80 questions in I was 70% certain I was going to fail. At 85 questions in I was wondering if I actually knew anything about CrossFit at all. 113 questions I was so tired of answering questions and watching videos of people doing crappy push jerks that I started to contemplate a new career. I mean I could either spend the rest of my life on this never ending test or I could just go clean bathrooms at the Amazon campus since I have only had one job for the past 8 years and apparently I didn’t know anything about it so I was probably not qualified to do anything else. I was also only an hour into the test and 65% done so that must have been a horrible sign. Clearly I didn’t understand what was going on. After watching the video for question 113 for the 7th time I decided to take a break. I got my cavities searched on the way out so I knew I had to savor this break. I took a brief walk outside which didn’t help because there was a movie theater next to the test center which only reminded me that everyone else in the world was having so much more fun than me. I got searched again and got back to work. I had to work hard not to pick up the pace as I got closer to be doing done. I had to work hard to shut the voice inside my head up that kept telling me that this was going terribly wrong. At this point it was 95% certain that I was going to fail. XCF was going to be closed by Christmas and my children would be taken away. I answered the last question and submitted my test. I got searched one more time and then they handed me a sheet of paper. I wanted to throw up and poop at the same time. I flipped it over and read it and didn’t understand a single word. Why did they have to put so many words on the page? Is it necessary to write a whole novel just to tell me that I was an idiot? Why couldn’t they just hand me a colored sheet of paper with a happy face or a sad face on it? Why is this room so hot? How do I tell my folks that I they were right and personal training was a dumb idea? How come my failure letter says congratulations on it? What do you mean I passed? Like passed pass? Like I am not going to have to clean toilets at the gas station? There was so much anxiety built up that even after the first wave of relief washed over me it was followed by additional waves of relief for things I didn’t even realize I was anxious about. I could barely feel excited. I was so convinced I was a pathetic failure that I was having a hard time climbing out of the hole I had crawled into.
Why do we do this? Our value and worth does not come from certifications, performance, or successes. The anxiety does not change anything. The negative self talk does not enhance our chances. The shaming does not improve our options. What does it look like to go into our trials, whatever they are, with the truth that we are loved. That’s it. Just loved. Not loved because. Just loved. This goes for job interviews, Fran, or the GMAT.
When I got back to my folks house neither of my children waited to hug me until they found out how I did. In fact it is a good thing I took a photo of my paper before I got home because when I showed it to Charlie she promptly scribbled all over it and then Sam tore it in half. It’s just a piece of paper. I am still Dad. And I am loved.