My Greatest Opponent Is Me

You’re my harshest critic. There are dreams and lofty goals of which I strive for, but you constantly plant seeds of doubt in my mind.

It’s been a roller coaster since day one. Even though the highs have been many, the lows have been deep. And when I fall into the valley of despair, it’s harder and harder each time to find my way out. I hate the valley; you’re loudest when I’m in it – pestering and whispering regret in my ear. Despite my attempts to ignore you, your whispers persist and seek to destroy any remaining fragment of hope.

So many times you’ve told me to quit. “It’s not worth it,” you say. “Greatness is only for the strong and determined.” You remind me of my past failures, and suggest that history is doomed to repeat itself.

You’re not just a critic, you’re an opponent. When I’m tired, you advise me to rest. When I’m in pain, you encourage me to give in. And when I don’t think I can go any farther, you tell me to stop as you coddle me and disparage my ambitions.

You instill fear in me – fear of failure along with the unbearable weight of disappointment and emotional anguish it holds. As a result, you cause me to be timid rather than courageous; stagnant instead of zealous.

But I want you to know that I’m on to you. From now on, every doubt you deliver will be combated with optimism; every uncertainty replaced with hope. Every failure will be marked with a mental sign which reads “lesson learned”. My failures will no longer define me but will instead serve as mere obstacles in the way of success.

By the way, your version of success leads to emptiness. I’m redefining it. I’m not in this sport for reasons of gaining personal glory or self-worth. I’m in it because I love it. I’m in it because I want to realize my potential. I’m in it because I know that the journey in striving toward wrestling accolades is worth it. It’s worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears. For I know that I am stronger, wiser and more ambitious on account of the dedication and hard work I put in to the pursuit of victory.

When I’m tired, I will ignore your pleas for rest. When I’m in pain, when my body aches and burns and yearns to quit, I will stay the course. And when I don’t think I can go any further, I will dig deep within my soul and push myself even harder. Because the truth is that I would rather fall in the course of giving it my all, than quit and wonder what could have been. I don’t fear failure; I fear a life which never took any worthwhile risks.

I am a wrestler. I am a warrior. The battles on the mat are preparation for the battles I may face in life; and I will be victorious.

You see, my greatest opponent isn’t the competitor standing in front of me; my greatest opponent is…ME.

About Michael Fessler

Michael Fessler is a writer, speaker, and the author of “Faith and Wrestling”, They’re Just Not Interested”, and “The Wrestler”. While he currently resides with his wife and children in Minnesota, Michael grew up in Missouri and was a significant part of the Missouri youth wrestling scene, earning several state and national titles. He went on to compete at Oak Park High School and earned a state title as a freshman. The following year, he moved to Minnesota with his family and completed his high school career wrestling at national powerhouse, Apple Valley, where he earned another state title as a senior. He went on to compete in college at California State University, Bakersfield. However, due to recurrent injuries and a lack of passion, Michael ended his wrestling career after just a year. He moved back to Minnesota where he earned a BA in Biblical and Theological Studies (Bethel University), and then an MA in Communications (Concordia University – Saint Paul).

Michael rekindled his love for the sport of wrestling as a spectator and fan. It is his desire to help current wrestling athletes discover the wonderful unique qualities of the sport early on so that they can approach the sport in a way that makes the most of their time while competing.

The Michael Fessler Blogs

Michael Fessler peers into the life of a wrestler. From the internal struggles of balancing glory and humility, to the mental struggles of confidence and self-defeat, “The Wrestler” brings the reader into the competitive arena. And often times, aspects of this arena are hidden. What occurs in the heat of battle on the mat is only half the story. This book helps current competitors recognize what exactly they’re participating in. It seeks to help them appreciate the unique qualities of the sport, to recognize what they are gaining from it, and to craft a competitive approach that makes the most of their time as a wrestler.