At nearly every grading ceremony I have ever attended there is always one person who is reluctantly promoted. They will usually accept the new belt and get on with it, but secretly they feel undeserving of the promotion. It is a shame because a day of celebration is often missed out on because of this feeling of unworthiness.
While not as extreme as the example above I too have had this feeling of unworthiness and it took me some time to get over it. Here are some of the lessons I learned along the way.
The feeling of unworthiness really comes down to self-esteem and the way that you view yourself. The first thing you need to do is realise that this feeling is quite normal. Even the most confident people will at some stage question their ability and have doubts.
The next thing you need to do is ask yourself why is it that you feel this way. At the end of the day your coach felt that you are ready to move to the next level. Your coach is in a better position to see how much you have improved and belts in Jiu-Jitsu are rarely given away fro free. Many people are their own harshest critic but sometimes we need to show ourselves a little love by stopping to realise just how much we have achieved.
If still feeling unworthy try and think back on the amount of time that you have spent on and off the mats learning and trying to get better every day. When I did this I realised that it added up to 1000’s of hours since I first started. This made me realise how far I had come. So what if I did not win an IBJJF gold that year, I had put in the hours every week and still turned up for training despite being tired after work and having niggling injuries. I thought back to all the winter evenings that I made the effort to get down and the all times I had missed family and work events to make sure that I could train.
A chance to prove yourself
Being promoted to higher belt present you with a new challenge. The challenge is for you to develop your technique and skill so that you feel like you represent the belt you now have. Sometimes a promotion is the thing a BJJ player needs to kick them onto the next level. It is often easy to get stuck at a grade and do the same thing. However, being at a higher grade means that your teammates will look at you differently and are likely to roll harder with you when sparring. This will only improve your skill and help you to focus on improving your game.