MOVING BEYOND THE GAME: MY TRANSITION FROM ATHLETE TO ASSOCIATE
Wednesday, Mar. 25, 2020
It has been about a year now since the end of my DI career. I’ve known that I wanted to write this post for a while. but I have been putting it off because I didn’t quite know how I wanted to say it. I still don’t really know, but here I am writing it anyway.
While I was an athlete, there was a decent amount of talk about not equating your value as a person with your athletic performance, and I understood that. Of course it’s much healthier for athletes mental health while they’re in the game, but it also helps you move on after.
I understood that, I did, but I was also not the type of person who’s whole identity was rooted in my sport. I was ready to be done with diving. It was the end of the road for me, and I was prepared for it.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the compete 180 lifestyle change. A lot more of my life was effected after diving was over than I thought would be. To be honest, there were times during the transition that I was completely miserable.
Guilt. Restlessness. A terrible fall from grace. All the things I wasn’t expecting to feel.
It wasn’t just the fact that I wasn’t an athlete anymore that turned my life on its head, it was everything connected it.
I started to feel extreme guilt because I wasn’t working out like I used to.
I had committed myself to a full time job, running a blog, coaching 2 high school teams, writing for a magazine, teaching CCD, plus ambitions travel plans and a long term relationship on top of it. I still felt lazy and useless because I just couldn’t get out of bed in the morning before work to bring myself to the gym.
I lost all my strength, and my body changed. I felt too skinny and too bony and not at all like the strong, powerful woman I used to be.
I hadn’t just lost that feeling physically either. In college I was serving on the NCAA D1 Student Athlete Committee, and I was the President of the Big East Student Athlete Committee. My undergraduate research was chosen to be part of an Ivy League research symposium, and would later be published by Vanderbilt. I felt like my voice mattered. My opinions mattered. I was unstoppable.
At my first full time job, I was the bottom of the barrel. Even when I thought I had good ideas, they were almost never considered deeply. Everything I wrote or designed was redone, and any mistakes I made stayed in the back of my mind for weeks. On top of that, the transition to sitting in an office all day long made me feel even lazier.
The real icing on the cake was my social life. With all my commitments I didn’t have time for friends, but I also threw myself into all these things to distract myself from the fact that I felt like I didn’t have any friends.
I had given up on trying to fit in and be included with some of my old college friends and teammates (for my own sanity—which is another story) my boyfriend lived 500 miles away, and after I moved back home, the place where I felt like I should have the most roots, I came back to a town where my two best friends no longer lived.
I felt like I had gone from wonder-woman to a squashed bug.
It was really hard for me to take a step back, and recognize the things I logically knew about the situation. Still:
As much as it may have felt like it, I was not lazy, my energy was just spent differently. But, running yourself into the ground is not good for anyone.
At my first job out of college I definitely deserve to be at the bottom, and my college experience was the culmination of around 20 years of experience. I did want to put in the work again to get where I want to be.
My friends that are far away are still my friends, and moving to a new place is an excellent opportunity to make some new ones.
Although I knew these things, it took a lot of reminders from my momma and Nick to help me remember them.
Another thing that really helped me was speaking up at work. If you’re someone like me who has a “don’t worry I got this” mentality, and wants to be able to just grind through everything, than you may also know how hard it can be to admit struggle. I didn’t want to seem like I couldn’t handle my job when the problem was really that I was growing terribly bored at work.
Talking though some of the struggles I was feeling at work and voicing my concern made me feel so much better than I expected it to. It felt like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders, and it helped things get better.
Yes, I still feel all these things sometimes. And yes, I was pretty miserable for a little, but I’ve made it through.
The transition from elite athlete to “normal” 23 year old was much much harder than I anticipated it to be. But, it pushed me to go out and find new places to put down roots. My blog has helped me so much in that regard. It has been the reason I’ve gone to meet-ups with some awesome like-minded girls in Boston (shout out to BLB). Its helped me meet some amazing, talented, creative people like Sophia Lehmann, my fav photographer-friend. Most of all, it has given me a place to share my experiences— cathartic for me and hopefully something that helps someone else feel like they’re not in this alone.
Sometimes we all need a reminder that our current situation never equates to our self worth. Not an athletic performance, or our bodies, or something at work.
While I might need reminders sometimes, I am the strong, confident, positive woman that I was when I was an athlete, and I will be in whatever the future brings. Big life changes don’t change that.
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