I know you want me to stronger. To be louder and better and all of those things. But no matter how hard I try I just can't. I know you've always said to never say, "I can't," but I . . . I can't. I try and I cry but it just amounts to nothing.
I remember in sixth grade, being a red belt was so far away. But three years went by faster than I thought. When the time finally came, I guess I didn't work hard enough though I wanted it so bad. I would come home sore and tired and not have time for anything but dinner, shower, and sleep. Sometimes not even all of that.
I worked so hard. And I blew the pre-test. Only three of my group passed, three out of eight. I went home and cried myself to sleep. Because the thing was, I worked my guts out on that pre-test. I put all my effort into it. It was my all, my best. And it wasn't good enough. Not even close.
And then I found out that two other of my friends passed the test because the judges had said hold, contradictory to what they wrote on their papers. And me? I was still a hold. Still a hold. And the last bit of hope I had of them maybe taking pity on me or retallying the votes, was crushed. I felt as if my heart was just ripped from my chest. This was half of my life for three, almost four whole years. And I still wasn't good enough.
But you told even the people who failed the pre-test, to still train with the people who are going to take the test this Saturday. And we still were and are working our butts off even though the next pre-test we can take is six months away.
And I probably won't even be ready for that. Next month, when the belt ceremony takes place, I won't be getting a new belt like the others will if they pass their test (which I know they will). I'll be on the sidelines. Because . . . I don't want to perform at something that I don't need to be in. I'm a disgrace. And as for my student of the year belt, I'm hanging it up, and switching to my regular one. I don't deserve it. Besides . . . the year's almost over.
Today, while we were training, I felt the worst pressure in my life, though I wasn't one that was going to be testing this Saturday. I wanted to cry. You wanted me to do my forms over and over and over again, to be louder. It was embarrassing. Everyone was watching and I barely kept my tears from brimming over my eyelids. You want me to stop being shy. But I can't. I'm disappointing you, I know, and I try to fix it and be loud, but it just doesn't come out loud. I'm sorry. I try to be better but, even though I try, I can't.
And then you said to me, at the end of class, "How did you let Ashley get better than you?"
"What do you mean?"
"You used to be better than her. And you come more."
And I just smiled nervously like I always do and say, "I don't . . . know?"
Was I really better than her? And if I was, then what happened? I feel like a loser. A failure. And I'm going to feel that way even more when I see my friends walking around with that red belt with a black stripe and I just have plain red for six more months (maybe more if I can't even pass the next pre-test). But then they'll get their black belts first. I was supposed to be one of the very first people that you trained at this school to become a black belt. And I've done nothing but disappoint.
But most of all, the worst "I can't" is that I can't do or say these things in reality. Because I'm Small Fry, the bubbly, cheerful, happy one. I can't break character and show my team what I really feel. I can't cry. I can't show weakness. I can't . . . I just can't. That's all one big "I can't." All bottled up inside me. I can't let it out in front of Danny or Ashley or you.
I'm still bubbly and cheerful and all of those things but . . . just not right now. I act like it but deep down, I'm the girl who's been crying herself to sleep, bashing and beating herself up over this. Wanting to be better and improve and impress.
I'm going to try. I've already started to. But sometimes, I just feel like I can't.