On the wall in my dining room I've got my P4 certificate in a picture frame. In the corners are my patches for P1, 2 and 3. When I pass P5 the 4th patch will join the others and when I get G1 I'll start a new frame next to the existing one.
Until tonight however, I had all four patches in that frame. I never wore my patches, they went straight into that frame, like captured butterflies, forever preserved in their glory and for me to gaze proudly at over breakfast coffee and cereal before I headed out to work.
I told myself this was due to not wanting to spend time every 6 months sewing the patch on and that for me it was enough to have passed and I didn't feel the need to advertise my grade.
Truth was a little different.
To me those patches were rare, much sought after and had been achieved through nerves, training, more nerves and the milling that is an actual grading. I had to do P4 twice due to a conditional pass in the March 2014 test (I had passed with 73% but like a prospect in a biker gang, I couldn't get the "top rocker" until I'd gone that extra mile, in this case doing stick defences again, back at my own club).
The patches were like exhibits in a private museum. Something so precious that I was afraid that I'd lose them forever if I didn't treat them with reverence and respect. I didn't put them on my Krav pants because to me they were to be worshipped. Delicate things that I was so very lucky to have. On some level I think I was afraid to lose them and feared that this exchange might happen in training one night.
"Excuse me, your patch says you're P4. Can you just show me forward to backward roll please?"
The higher I rose through the Practitioner ranks, the more I felt like I had to "be" something more than I was comfortable being. I had fought so hard to get those patches that I kept them behind glass on a wall in my house, so I knew where they were and could rest assured that they were safe.
Yesterday I bought some iron on velcro strips and tonight I ironed them on both the P4 patch and both pairs of training trousers. Tomorrow I will train with the patch on my leg for the first time.
Sometimes it's harder to feel comfortable to have achieved something, than it is to actually achieve it.