As I walk along with renewed vigor, I hear Shihong whisper something.
"What was that?" I ask.
"I said, you'll break down with time," she turns to face me, "No matter how valiant you feel right now, it's going to fade."
I pause. "What else am I supposed to do?"
Shihong shrugs, "I don't know. Try not to set yourself up for heartbreak?" She starts to turn around, but stops to say, "We can't train a broken spirit. Brace yourself for the worse, but don't expect to thrive, you'll be met with a wall."
"How do you know?"
"It's what I've been told throughout my entire career here," she wearily answers.
"Maybe those people who were telling you were just repeating the things that they had been told their entire lives, too. There's no way you could know for sure unless you tested it yourself." I become defensive. Shihong raises her hands in defeat.
"Fine, good luck."
"Thanks." I realize that what she says might be true, but what I said can also be true. It could be possible to have a bright outlook and still thrive, you just need to be strong enough to pick yourself back up every time.
Eventually we come to a fork in the hallway. She leads me down the one closest to the left, but I hear sounds coming from the right. I can hear yelling and the clashing of something, again and again. Shihong has to come back and grab me because I'm frozen.
"What's down there?" I inquire.
"That's where testing takes place. That's the combat takes place."
"Are they fighting with swords or something?"
Shihong laughs, "No! This is no longer the 1300's." She stops to listen for a moment, "They're practicing face to face combat, using bamboo sticks. It's pretty intense. You'll be doing some of that during your testing."
She grabs me and leads me down the hall, where I walk through a door into a huge room filled with tables and the smell of spaghetti sauce.