I am always fascinated by the knowing of things being unknown. Let me give an example.
I distinctly remember sitting in my history class during freshman year at The University of Texas at Austin (the best school…hook ‘em!). I was writing my essay for a final exam, and the preparation for it had required me to read about five books, attend lectures, and be prepared to answer any number of questions that would require me to combine the knowledge I attained from these books and class lectures. It wasn’t easy. But I was prepared.
So there I sat in the tiny seat with the desk attached, and I read the question, opened my blue book, took pen to paper, and got about 10 sentences in when my brain began meandering into the knowing of the unknown. “I wonder how I’ll do on this test,” my inner voice nudged while I kept gliding the pen across the paper and writing sentence after sentence. I still had at least ¾ of that essay to finish; yet all I could think about was what my grade would be when the professor finished reading my words. When the professor finished reading words that I hadn’t even written at the point of my curiosity. It nearly drove me batty, as I feverishly continued writing and wondering, wondering and writing.
I am like this with almost everything in life. I believe it comes from having hyper-self awareness, partially cultivated from a childhood spent as an only child.
This very curiosity drives me when I prepare for a show. It lurks in my mind when I run outside. It pokes at my brain when I practice my posing. It sits in the corner and stares at me while I shower, wash dishes, lift weights, and apply my mascara. And with my background as an only child who has always had a vivid imagination and has never a boring moment even when all alone, I can certainly come up with make-believe stories about the day of a show, complete with emotions involved. But then I have to shake myself back to reality, to present day, to here and now. And I have to squash that desire of wanting to know what I don’t know so that I can go into the unknown being more in the know. I know. That’s a lot to know.
I think this is why I never say how I’m going to do at a show. I honestly don’t know. I don’t want to pretend to know. I don’t want to be pretentious. I don’t want to be rude to other girls who also don’t know how they will do on that same stage with me. I have to work very hard to stay in the present time, to not peer too deeply at the dark shadow and question mark that cover future’s face. Sometimes, if we squint and attempt to change focus in order to see what we definitively cannot, we lose sight of what is actually important and we distort the image of what is to come.
I cannot control the future. I can only control my actions that will lead to my future. It is one of the hardest lessons to learn in the bodybuilding world: letting go of control. Most of us are control freaks, maybe even Type A personalities or dealing with OCD elements. Understanding that there are a million and one other factors at play on show day is necessary to protecting one’s sanity along the way. I know I cannot control who shows up on that stage on that day. I cannot control how they look. I cannot control how judges will view me. I cannot control how judges will view the other physiques. I cannot control what judges desire most out of the competitors they examine. I might not even be able to control the chemical make up of my body and its reactions to things I have changed or left the same in the final days, hours, minutes before a show. But I can control my preparation. I can control my mindset. I can control my presentation. And that’s a lot. A whole lot of control that I have.
I’m okay placing first. I’m okay placing last. I’m okay placing dead middle. I’m okay with all of my placings in my past. I cannot control those anymore, and I think I am finally letting Alaska go. Except to prove to myself that I can look better this year and put that better onto a stage.
The rest is unknown.
Jodi Leigh Miller is a Women's Physique IFBB Pro with experience in all divisions. She is a record-achieving power-lifter, posing specialist, certified trainer, life coach, and author. She holds an English degree from The University of Texas at Austin and is a certified educator. She is an experienced, knowledgeable, multifaceted phenom.