Overachiever Psychology: Childhood Trauma, Failure at World Wushu Championships

Episode #1: Quitting martial arts as a teen is what forged the path for the rest of my life; a life I didn’t want, without realizing it. You are always one decision away from a totally different life. I chose a different life to find my way back to martial arts; I chose VICTORY over victimhood.

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Transcript: https://beccathesun.com/category/podcast/
Video Essays: http://bit.ly/beccathesunvideoessay

 

Hey sunshine, you’re listening to my eponymous podcast, Becca the Sun. In my 3 minute teaser for this podcast video series, you saw how my life fell apart last year, and how I found personal victory through a 6 month life transformation.

When everything that kept you together falls apart (like it did for me, last year) you must face who you are and where you come from, no matter how much anger, shame, and pain it carries.

Sometimes your life is falling apart because it’s time to create one for who you truly are.

I’ve had to face myself many times, through the isolation of solo traveling and living in Thailand for 6 months, the loneliness of being single after my first relationship of 8 years ended, and through the fear stepping into the ring to fight my first fight ever in Muay Thai (footage and commentary on my YouTube channel).

This is a show about choosing victory over victimhood.

Happiness is not pleasure, happiness is victory.
– Zig Zigar

If you want to be the hero for yourself, this show is for you. You saving you. You conquering your own demons, even if those around you never faced theirs.

A “hero” isn’t a perfect person who always gets things right. Far from it. A hero is someone who “found or achieved or [did] something beyond the normal range of achievement,” and who “has given his life to something bigger than himself or other than himself.
– Principles, Ray Dalio

This episode is about my childhood and where I’ll begin the show. This is where many of you will relate.

Those of us who are brave enough to face our demons will end generational trauma. Unfortunately, my parents and their generation, without any emotional tools, endured hardships of an extent which I will never face: poverty, violence, cultural revolution, sexism, racism, and abuse.

If you had a childhood in which you had to endure, then your hero’s journey is about finding your way back to what you’ve lost.

My earliest memory is from when I was 4. On a sunny afternoon in a Texas apartment, I saw something no child should have to witness. We never talked about that incident, or the numerous incidents that I witnessed that followed.

At home, I lived in fear of abuse and domestic violence.
At school, I lived in fear of bullying.
Fear.
This was my childhood.
Fear.

How did you first learn how to hide?

Between the hostility of home and school, I learned to internalize. To shrink. To dilute. To dim.

I learned how to hide, because I was not safe in either of these two spaces, except only when I did as I was told. To please. To perform. To win their good graces and praise. Validation was my safety.

I was an outcast who quickly realized I looked different and couldn’t relate to most people. I didn’t see beauty in being a short Chinese girl with dark brown hair and eyes, compared to the beautiful tall girls with blonde hair and blue eyes.

When did you first know your own worth?

When I became a teenager, something happened to me for the very first time. I suddenly became popular. Boys started to like me. For the first time, I felt worthy.

A cognitive switch turned on. I started to see my potential. I was an academic overachiever in high school taking college level courses and extra curriculars every weekday evening. Though I had once seen myself as a powerless child, I was now a teenager, set on being invincible. Undeniable. Unquestionable. And in my naive, broken, and traumatized little girl heart, I sought that emotional invincibility through the only way I knew how: their validation.

The attention from boys and my academic status became a pivotal outlook that dictated my self-image. I thought I could use this new social prestige to outrun my past. I had determined what it was all about; what it all came down to. This is what love and acceptance was about – 2 things only:

  1. My appearance
  2. My achievements

I would oscillate between two halves of myself at home and at school. At home, I was enveloped in my studies and commitments, hiding my image to obey what my parents deemed acceptable for a “good little Chinese Christian girl”. At school, I downplayed the intensity of my focus and intelligence, portraying myself as less polarizing and more relatable.

What were your hopes and dreams?

I was (and always will be) a nerdy Asian girl all to familiar with the pressures of excellence: math, piano, abacus, Mandarin, dance, soccer, and more. But none of them were dreams.

None, except for kungfu. My Dad is a former Chinese kungfu athlete, and someone I consider a world class martial artist.

Realizing (thankfully) that he couldn’t be both a parent and a coach, my Dad enrolled me into wushu, the competitive, performance sport of kungfu, at a training centre. Training was torture. I had asthma. I never felt like I was good enough.

But, I loved it.

The shame and embarrassment I endured as a Chinese immigrant child turned into pride for heritage. I was competing in a sport from an art founded in China, a cultural legacy.

My self-image as disempowered and weak turned into confidence and resilience.

The resentment and rage I silently affixed to my father from what I experienced since my earliest childhood memory was ameliorated by my adoration and idolization of him as a martial artist. It was the only deep connection we shared.

My trajectory outpaced the fellow athletes I trained with. I was a rising star. I quickly became a Canadian national gold medalist. I qualified (by sub) for the National Junior Wushu Team to represent Canada at world’s. Competing showed me my character and my values. This was my heart and soul.

And then I came crashing down. Crippling anxiety. My Dad. Our terrible communication. The fear of both disappointing him and tarnishing his reputation.

My performance at world’s was a shocking disappointment to everyone, including myself.
Generational trauma manifested.
My Dad’s, from being raised and taught martial arts in an environment that normalized abuse.
My Mom’s, from being raised by a father who was misogynistic and a mother who was fat-phobic.

My Dad made his disappointment clear to me by emotionally scarring me. Martial arts was no longer our connection.
My Mom was unsupportive of my competing this whole time and trying to get me to quit by body-shaming my height and the size of my muscles.

So I quit.
There I was – a teenage girl, without her heart and soul. A belief that her self-worth was entirely based on her appearance and achievements, which were now her greatest source of shame.
So I fucking quit.

It was the personal failure I never forgave myself for (until my 20s, through therapy).

When did you lose your way?

Quitting martial arts as a teen is what forged the path for the rest of my life; a life I didn’t want, without realizing it.

You are always one decision away from a totally different life

And this show is how I chose a different life to find my way back to martial arts. I’m here to share the entire journey with you and what it taught me about unhappiness, suffering, and mental illness.

Tell me in the comments:
How did you first learn to hide?
When did you first know your worth?
What were your hopes and dreams?
When did you lose your way?

Over the course of this show, I’m going tell you stories and unpack what I believe to be the 4 reasons why we struggle:

  1. Unrecognized and unprocessed emotional trauma
  2. A loss of childlike self-expression
  3. A confinement to to narratives (Narrative: not filmmaking/marketing/etc speak, rather a hardwired story that we as individual tell ourselves about our past and future)
  4. An obsession with self-improvement

My real life story is a case study of taking responsibility for

  1. Owning up to my mistakes, and embracing my flaws, weaknesses, and darkness.
  2. Realizing where I let my own failure & other people’s negativity destroy my childhood dreams, and find my way back to martial arts.
  3. Breaking out of cultural and religious narratives to define who I want to be as a woman who is confidently single and creatively trailblazing her career.
  4. Recovering from my obsession of self-improvement, to operate and grow through self-acceptance and self-love instead.

I’m currently in Canada to produce this podcast video series and to write my book on binge eating self-recovery for athletes. I’ll be back in Thailand to train and fight in the fall. I’m promising myself to finish these two projects before I go back to Thailand, because if I didn’t, it would be selfish, given the amount of suffering I see in our modern world.

Please support this show by subscribing to my YouTube channel or on Apple Podcasts or Android. Please support a young female creative entrepreneur & martial artist, who is trying to make a difference in our world.

Our world that doesn’t need another champion, tycoon, #1 in fill-in-the-blank, or Forbes’ richest. We need storytellers, healers, artists, journalists, writers; those who seek the truth and tell the truth.

The next episode is going to be about what happened after I quit martial arts, and my struggle with my mental health from that point onwards.

How it all led to a mental breakdown that woke me up and made me realize that the hero had lost her way, and it was time for her to find her way back.