It is OK to be scared. I've observed in sports there seems to be the desire to appear stoic and unafraid of the challenges to come. That in doing so one would be tough, respected, and even viewed as courageous.
There are photos of me lying down on the mat, nonchalantly resting and appearing completely relaxed and almost unconcerned with the match that I was about to have. At the time I felt like this was the only way to deal with my stress: to appear unafraid, unworried, and also to perhaps unsettle my opponents whilst also conserving my energy before the fight. But truly, I didn't know how else to deal with all these emotions or even to acknowledge and share that these feelings existed.
The truth was I had trouble sleeping before every tournament. I was so worried about winning, not letting my teammates down, maintaining my status as a high level sparrer that couldn't be beaten. I had attached my sense of self with being the best sparrer and was proud of that identity. But by not allowing myself to show my fear, I had taught myself to push certain emotions away. I had detached. I had ran from my fear because I was scared.
So I get it. I know what it is like to be anxious, worried, scared, and uncertain. To doubt the training, to not be able to let go in spite of all there was out there. The support of my teammates did not matter, it was mostly the result, which was to be determined, and the results whether the end of the world or not (it was not the end of the world) was my biggest priority.
Having been there, on the off chance that my students may one day read this, or another fighter, competitor, or human. Just breath. It isn't the end of the world, you will be fine. Just trust your training, do your best, and try and have some fun. For my students.. You are incredibly brave, to compete even when you are scared. Remember it is not just Tae Kwon Do we are learning, we are learning how to live life bravely. It is OK to be scared. There is no courage without fear. Embrace your strength!
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” - Winston Churchill