By Katherine Wright

Freshman year of high school, representatives from the U.S. Army visited our gym class. We had to complete a series of elaborate, highly-scrutinized exercises that ranged from push-ups to running back and forth across the gym floor. Military-grade demands echoed through the room. 

They smelled weakness and immediately found the kid who didn’t go down far enough during the push-up portion, or the one who trailed behind during the sprints. Doing my best to blend in with the crowd, I avoided eye contact and tried my best to look like I knew how to do a burpee. 

A few years later, I went to a self defense class. This instructor was a similar level of intense, listing off his karate and krav maga training and recounting captivating tales of absurd strength that I once believed only existed in movies. He told us he has never started a fight himself, but also has never lost one. I don’t doubt it. 

Again, I try to disguise myself in the crowd, hoping he won’t call on me to practice the newly-learned throat-jab technique in front of the class. Sensing our apprehension, this man who never loses a fight invented a new activity. Rather than pretending to practice on our partners, the instructor decided we would each perform the self defense throat-jab maneuver on him and then he would do it once to us. He had to endure it about twenty times, while we only experienced it once, so it was fair, I guess. And I’ll certainly never forget how to do that move. 

I was thinking about those occasions during a workout class I went to the other day. Everyone around you is always so intense and talented and clearly knows what they’re doing. As a newcomer, you have no other option than to pretend to know what you’re doing. Fake it until you make it, try not to fall and do your best not to stand out. It’s a daunting, yet rewarding journey, because one day you’ll be able to tirelessly sprint back and forth across a high school gym, never lose a fight, and easily endure twenty jabs to the throat. 

That’s what I’ve been told, at least.