Being an athlete defined me. I ran track from the age of 8 to 22. The first question when I saw old friends was often centered around track. Until this day, people still greet me as the “track star”. You could imagine that when I decided to hang up my spikes, not pursue a professional track career, and do something different with my life, that I felt lost. I was filled with regret because I hadn’t accomplished the one goal I had set out to, to run 54 seconds in the 400 meter run. Not accomplishing my goal tore me to peices because I had told myself from day 1 of my collegiate career that my track career would be worthless if I didn’t run 54 seconds. There were constant reminders from my teammates and coaches and the idea of running 54 seconds completely consumed my life.
My dreams were crushed when I never reached that goal and I was even more crushed when I realized that I was the one to blame for holding myself back from reaching my goal. I left school feeling heavy hearted, I left school hating myself for not reaching my goal, I left school feeling worthless, I left school feeling like I didn’t know who I was and I had no idea how I was going to live without track in my life.
Whenever I think about my track career, I get emotional. I still miss running track every single day, I miss the thrill of competing, the countless experiences and the joy of running a good race and seeing coach smiling at the finish line. I am who I am today because I was an athlete, because I was an athlete who didn’t reach my goals. But I am thankful every day for track and what it taught me. I am even more thankful for the missed opportunities, and the 54 seconds I never ran, because those experiences encouraged me to do better in other areas of my life, they encouraged me to no longer live a life in regret, to find what makes me happy, to find what gives me meaning and purpose. I am so thankful that my track experiences and my dealings with anxiety, emotionally abusive relationships and suicidal thoughts brought me to where I am today: having a platform to share my story with all of you. I never thought I would find something else that set my soul on fire the same way track did, but I am fortunate enough to have been brought to this new and fulfilling journey. I needed something to make me feel like my life had purpose and that I was doing something good, something bigger than myself. I remember telling my therapist early on in our sessions that I felt incomplete and that I was on the search to find what in my life would give me purpose.
How beautiful is it that my regretful experiences that came from track, a sport that had previously given my life meaning, is also now giving my life meaning, in just a different way? My biggest takeaway from this is that in every dark scenario, there is light, there is always light. There is always good in the bad that propels you to a better future.
Writing my blogs, speaking at high schools and colleges and managing my social media platforms on top of my full time job is a lot like track for me. I was used to putting my best effort forward to thrive under high pressure and high stress situations, and not only do I have the skill to manage multiple priorities from being a student-athlete, I now have the tools, people and light in my life to ensure my I can manage my anxiety and lead a fulfilling life.
I realized on this journey that I’ve had the same dream all along to do something meaningful for me, something meaningful for others, something that brings me and others joy, something that keeps me moving forward and keeps me motivated for my future. All along I wanted these things for me, and once track was over I thought I would never have another experience that brought me joy. But I was so very wrong, my dreams are still very much in reach, I just had to find a new approach to accomplish them.
Is there a major change happening in your life? Do you feel like you are unsure of what you will do without something or someone you have lived with for so long? Have your dreams changed and you have decided to change your career path? Know that dreams change, situations change, and that is completely okay. And if you need to take a new path to accomplish a dream you have always had even if that dream has altered a bit, that’s okay too. Whatever dream is stirring within you right now, remember that it is okay to change paths and try a new avenue to reach your goals and turn your dream into a reality. Finding a new approach to an old dream can be frightening, but that new approach may be the answer you have been searching for to unlock the code to your dreams. There is no one way street to success. There is no guidebook with step by step directions on how to accomplish your dreams. Sometimes we have to turn left even when we wanted to turn right. And sometimes turning left may be the most beautiful decision we have ever made because we will go down a path full of so many new opportunities that bring us the joy we have been looking for.
Be Beautifully Simply You