Sometimes it takes punching yourself in the face to realize how daft you have been. I speak from experience.

It all started whilst facing the speed bag, aka the piñata of boxing.  After years of practice, I had finally become comfortable turning my fists over on a 1-2-3, 1-2-3 rhythm. Earlier this week, Coach Ave came over and told me to change the beat to 1-1, 1-1, or in layman’s terms, convert a waltz into techno.  

“Yeah right,” I muttered, keeping to my Strauss.  Who did I think I was? A real boxer?! The only boxing I have ever watched was a recent scene in Billions and I have no desire to actually hit anyone.  

“You Can,” he and his fresh kicks sharply retorted.

To my shock, I could, and I did, soon after finding myself bouncing and bopping away as if I were at a Berlin rave. Before long, we moved over to attack the heavy bags, the euphoria of my newfound capacity reverberating as I attempted to channel Tyson.  Coach Ave and his sparkly ginger passed by between an uppercut shuffle combo and reiterated, “You Can.”

“You Can,” two monosyllabic words with one heavy blow.

Throughout the many transitions I have faced in recent years, some rounds initiated voluntarily, others engendered by family or society, I have witnessed myself fumble in “I cannot” more times than I would like to admit.  Meanwhile, I have been encouraging my own loved ones with “You Can,” and they in turn have been shouting “You Can! You Did! You Will!,” to me, no matter our opponents.  Even my grandmother managed to whisper, “Tu Puedes,” to me while she gently stroked my hand with her thumb as I exasperatedly sat by her side, holding back tears of frustration, grief, anger, and exhaustion, just weeks before she passed away. If she thought I could fight through, why didn’t I?

Whether in relation to one’s health, career, family, or society, transitions are a breeding ground for doubt. They throw you into the ring with the deepest facets of your soul, facing you off in a match with who you think you are, who you have been, and who you want to be, physically, emotionally, and intellectually. They befuddle past triumphs and obfuscate future accomplishments, continually punching you below the belt of true possibility.  Transitions have the capacity to turn you into life’s piñata, one body shot at a time.

While being honest about what you can and cannot do is invaluable, assuming you actually know what you can and cannot do is a punch in the face. Which is exactly what I did to myself when the power of You Can finally hit me; I literally, and quite accidentally, punched myself in the schnoz.

You Can.

We all need a champion, someone in our corner to help us get to the knockout. Sometimes, though, we need to be our own Ali.  We need to give ourselves a mental shoe-shine in order to be able see the past objectively, the future optimistically, the present as plain reality.  Yes, we may get banged up in the process, but that is alright. We fight on.

As Coach Ave reminded me, life is a series of bobs and weaves, and even if you feel like you are on the ropes, You Can. And You Will.

I, on the other hand, am going to ice my swollen nose and get ready for life’s next match. Or maybe just a techno party with the piñata.