Proper Timing

Heartbreak is typically the term used for the ending of a long term relationship. Emotional trauma, wine emojis, Ben and Jerry’s. Reminiscing on the great times and all of the amazing things that relationship gave to you. Having moments of doubt, sometimes severe. Wondering if things could have gone differently. Needing your friends and family for support, and sometimes guidance, and sometimes just validation that everything is turning out exactly how it should.

A few weeks ago, I ended my nine year relationship with diving. There were tears, and long conversations, and two bottles of wine vanished from my apartment in one weekend, but it was a peaceful decision. It was the right decision, at the right time, for the right reasons. Like several months ago, when I expressed no need to justify my continued training, I don’t feel any strong urge to justify retirement besides stating that it was time. It was/is a decision I feel good about it. I gained everything I was going to gain from this sport, and even if I didn’t accomplish every goal I set out for myself I ended up growing in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Every perceived failure turned into a greater life lesson than achievement ever could- something that only hindsight shows. Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly proud of my accomplishments. I recognize the impact not only being a Division One athlete can have, and being a Big Ten athlete is something I will always take pride in.

Sport has shaped me in to the person I am today. Sport has influenced every major life decision I have ever made, and shaped the character I have become. Few experiences in my life will impact me the same way diving has- from the personal and professional relationships gained, the physical and emotional strength, and the limits we pushed along the way.

On a lighter note- retirement is awesome. It is not what I expected it to be- I expected to feel a little more lost and a lot more confused, but I suppose that just credits that it was time to move on. I still work out nearly every day, promising to lift with my training partner until the US Olympic Team Trials while starting to RUN.

I am slow, and I have next to nothing for an endurance base, but we all start somewhere and this is my start line with no finish line in sight. I have been told multiple times as a diver to not run for longer than ten seconds at a time, as to not take anything away from my fast twitch muscles fibers. I have trained with girls who ran anyways as a way to keep their weight down (I may have been one of them some days, but never bought in to that mentality much). I have exercised induced asthma and last time I ran a 10km I cried. It’s exciting to be a beginner, and I’m looking forward to the process of improving over time.

In a sense, this post is a cliched nod to “when one door closes another door opens”, but I don’t like to think about it like that. This post is a lot less “crying over a break-up” and more “celebrating over a promotion”. I am excited, I am happy, and I am perfectly okay with the process that has led me to this point.

 

 

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Impostor Syndrome

Technically, Impostor Syndrome can be defined as: “a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist even in face of information that indicates that the opposite is true. It is experienced internally as chronic self-doubt, and feelings of intellectual fraudulence.” (According to Google).

When I first started to consider graduate school late last summer, self-doubt and feelings of “intellectual fraudulence” didn’t even begin to cover it. What right did I have to pursue graduate school? While I genuinely enjoyed many of my classes, I was not a straight A student. I can hardly spell without spell check. I would rather spend 5 hours on a paper for a B+ than 10 hours on a paper for an A. After getting over my initial fears and actually telling people I was going to apply to grad school, I did a truly incredible job of convincing myself that I wasn’t going to get in. That admissions committees across the country would be able to read through the lines of my carefully crafted personal statement and slightly above average transcripts, and send back massive LOL’s.

Somehow, in this universe, that didn’t happen. I’ve actually gotten more acceptances from schools than rejections, and just returned from my first admitted students weekend. If you feel like truly exploring the depths of your Impostor Syndrome, visit a campus of a grad school you are interested in. 

impostor-graph

Battling feelings of fraud is tricky. On one hand you feel as though you are going to get found out at any moment, that you will get pulled aside and told “I’m so sorry, we made a mistake, you should potentially look at other options”, and on the other hand, you want to bust down doors and throw your qualifications in the air like confetti. It turns into proving your worth to yourself, and not just anonymous admissions committees. They have deemed you qualified enough, and yet you still seek that validation.

After two days of back-to-back funding interviews, article discussions, campus tours, and plenty of opportunities to interact with current students and other candidates, it was time to face the facts. I did belong there. I absolutely deserved to be admitted to the program, just like every other individual in the room. I was able to hold my own in mock class discussions, and I feel confident about my interviews. At no point during the weekend did I feel left behind in an intellectual sense, and felt a few of my final graduate-level fears melt away.

It’s a funny thing when Impostor Syndrome fades. It’s not like you all of a sudden feel amazing about yourself, but it’s a quiet voice in your head that whispers: “speak up- your opinion is valid”.

I’m sure this won’t be my last interaction with Impostor Syndrome, with plenty of interviews and campus visits to go, but it’s a score for my confidence levels that I won this round. I do want this, and that’s okay. I want to be a graduate student, and am qualified to do so. I am not “less than” anyone else in the room. Feeling confident or having a sense of belonging doesn’t make me an egotistical maniac, but it does make me brave. Recognizing feelings of inadequacy doesn’t make me failure, it makes me a human who feels authentic nerves. And acknowledging that this is something I really want doesn’t make me cocky or fearless, if anything it does the opposite, but it does make me believe in my qualifications just that much more.

Post-Grad Living

 

While mad cleaning the apartment tonight (thanks to a 5pm cup of coffee and destroying the kitchen in an attempt to make chili), I found an old journal from my sophomore and junior years of college.I’ve kept some form of a journal since I was ten, and while I haven’t written much since Vietnam I always enjoy going back and reading through my old thoughts and emotional roller coasters. That’s the thing with writing a journal (that’s different than writing on a public platform)- you only really write about the highs and the lows. There is no in between. I spent a good 45 minutes tonight reading through the moments that, at the time, were the world’s biggest heartbreak or the best I’ve ever felt.

It’s funny how you think nothing changes day in and day out, but when I look back at four years ago I’m shocked by some of the things that passed through my mind and onto paper. “Nothing was ever accomplished through negative self talk” I wrote in March of 2012 (I probably definitely didn’t come up with that). I felt like every missed dive was a failure, and the only way to succeed was to repeatedly run into the same brick wall over and over.

Despite reading some things that made me feel sorry for what I let myself believe, I was able to read the transformation. I was able to read through learning all of those “big girl” dives, every motivating thing my coach told me when I couldn’t see the positives. It’s been an incredibly reminder, and somehow exactly what I needed to see. This weekend, I’m competing exhibition at a college meet. And I’m SO nervous. Like more competition anxiety than I’ve had in years. I’m not even sure of what I am afraid of, but reading through how I got through it before has been a lifesaver.

I have been diving since I was 15 years old, and I have fallen in and out of love with this sport before. There have been countless moments over the past several years that, at the time, I’m convinced would be the definition of me. Results that, in my mind, outlined a career, determined my worth, and dictated how I felt about the sport. I must be one of the only people in history to come ninth on EVERY single event at the Big Ten Championships. They took 22 people to the 2012 Olympic Team Trials when I came 23rd at Nationals. And yeah, I broke my foot 10 days before my final Big Tens, when I was in the best diving shape of my life. I have missed more dives than I care to admit, and yet I choose to keep diving after college when most people take the opportunity to pursue new endeavors. But I am stubborn, and I am not done. I may not have had a “real” competition since January, but doesn’t mean I am out. When I missed Trials in 2012, I committed with my coach to train for the 2016 Trials. I have no illusions of cracking the top eight divers nationally, as I’m just trying stay healthy and improve, not make another 5 years of corrections in a few months. It’s about finishing what I started.

It’s hard to train after college- I feel old. I get sore more often, random pain in my shoulders and wrists that weren’t there when I was 19. While I still train with the team, I don’t compete alongside them (this exhibition event an exception). I’m focused on my job, grad school applications, and paying bills on time. Diving is not my whole world anymore, and that took some adjustments. I trained twice a day for seven years of my life, and now I only train in the afternoons. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough, which turned into me thinking I was delusional for wanting to keep training. I didn’t feel like I was enough, like I wasn’t “good enough” to keep training, that I didn’t have the “right”. I didn’t feel any sense of urgency, any passion. Things took a turn when I acknowledged that I was in a horrible place, and I started talking about it. Instead of taking a leadership role as a college senior, I turned to the college team to remind me what I loved about the sport. I turned to my best friends and told them of my perceived inadequacies. I turned to my coach and said “I don’t know what I’m doing”, and like he has always done, he brought me back to life. I turned to what I have done in the past, and looked for what I always loved about this sport.

In February of 2013, before my junior year Big Tens, I wrote “No matter what happens over the next week, you’ll be fine. You will still love this sport and this sport will love you back”.

Today, nearly three years later, I am giving myself a gentle reminder. I do not need to be nailing every single dive to love this sport. I do not need to be the “best” or “peaked” to love this sport. There is no score or quantifiable measure of success that gives me the “right” to keep training as a post-grad. I don’t need to justify training once a day, or make up excuses. I don’t have to score a personal best every time to recognize that I am still living the dream. I have acquired more joy from being a Hawkeye then I ever did being the “best” on a given day. I can’t think of a single dual meet that I remember my rank or score, but I remember tearing up my senior year thinking about how much I would miss it. I remember the opportunities I’ve had through this sport, and the friends I’ve made from other teams. I remember cheering till I gave myself a headache. I remember crying when we all took our last dives as collegiate athletes. That’s what falling in love with this sport again means to me. It’s time to remind myself that flipping through the air is a blast, that even on days I don’t love my body I’m thankful it does the ridiculous things I ask it to, and that the relationships formed on the pool deck will last a life time.

This fall, I forgot what it felt like to love the daily grind. And with six months left in a nine year career, I don’t intend to lose my favorite part of being an athlete. There is no requirement for being “good enough” to train as a post grad. I am enough. I do enough. And even if giving it my all is less than why it’s been in years past, does not make this year any less successful than previous years. I have absolutely nothing to prove to anyone else. This year isn’t about making a final, or learning new tricks, but about persevering towards a goal a made years ago. The only one I owe this year is myself. Seems appropriate that it’s during the holiday season I find myself seeking joy without justification.

Whoops Hi Hello

When I wrote about how much I was loving life on August 27th, that was never meant to be a type of “Bye see ya never” post. NOT writing for two months was unintentional, and though I often sat down to write I never really knew what I wanted to say. Currently I’m drinking the world’s best cup of coffee, slept in till 10am (which is a rarity), and am procrastinating between either a lifting workout or a $5 Hot Pilates class. Procrastination is always the best motivation.

I do miss writing- and I want to bring that back in to my life. I DON’T miss being a “blogger”: the whole grow-your-following and bubbly-positivity-all-the-time started to bother the crap out me, and blogs I used to love don’t feel authentic to me anymore. It’s so easy to fall in the trap of page views and free crap and blah blah blah but that’s never what I wanted two years ago when I started to write, I just wanted to write about training and college athletics and food and traveling.

Turns out the key to anything in life is to start before you are ready. So here I am, writing again, because it’s good for me and it makes me happy and I genuinely enjoy practice my writing skills even though I can’t spell worth a damn. I don’t know what I will be writing about every time I plan on sitting down with my laptop, but I really don’t need to know right away. I just need to start.

I’ll post a recap of the last few months here in the next week or so, as I sloooowly get back in the swing of (writing) things! It’s nice to be back. My coffee mug is now empty and I’m feeling the squat rack over the yoga studio today, so I’m off to enjoy the rest of the weekend! Happy Saturday and Happy NOVEMBER everyone. My bad for being MIA.

Turns Out

As it turns out, “being more” is awesome. Loving your job is awesome. Loving your part time job is awesome too, and loving your hobby is, you guessed it, awesome.

I promised at the end of my “Be More” rant that I was on a mission- but I didn’t declare what, or how. As it turns out, that mission was the pursuit of enjoyment and I didn’t even know it yet. Turns out, life is better when you love your job. Or jobs, plural, if you’re like me and never say no. I’ve been at my new position now for just over two three weeks and I am OBSESSED with the work I’m doing. I love everything about it. Sundays used to make me practically physically ill with the thought of five days till the weekend again, and now I genuinely love every day of the week.

Turns out not everything I do has to be wrapped into this identity of self promotion and constant professional development. Part of the reason I don’t blog as much anymore is because I don’t have a “theme”, a “niche”, or a “target audience”. You know who my target audience is? Anyone who feels like reading my random ass ramblings on the internet (hiiiiii parents and friends who I know read this even know we never talk about it). Turns out when you love your job, your hobby (ie, the blog), doesn’t have to be avenue of self-improvement, but an avenue of self expression. Not everything has to be geared towards getting better or getting ahead. 

My last several posts have revolved around this idea that I feel the need to do everything and to do everything to the absolutely best of my abilities, and while I pride myself on my ability to adapt and embrace new challenges I am learning that I do NOT need to excel at everything I leap in to. I absolutely love my job, and I love my sport and my team and the training that comes along with it. I love my part-time job, and am enjoying it more than I thought I would to be totally honest (coaching high school). Just saying- I have no desire to be a professional health blogger. Just because I am trying to be the best athlete I can be does not mean I am trying to ONLY be an athlete. Turns out, I love being a young professional. And as terrifying as it is, I love being a new graduate. The world is uncertain and the possibilities are endless and the path is 100% entirely ours to create.

Let’s Be Real

Let’s discuss some facts here:

  • I’ve gotten REALLY good at meal prepping. Like, it only took a month and it’s second nature now to pack all my meals ahead of time. While I’ve learned that I get sick of things if I eat them for a week straight, I’ve figured out a good cook-three-times-a-week system
  • I just celebrated a birthday! I was fortunate enough spend my birthday road tripping, experiencing a city I’ve never been to (Woooooo St. Louis) and getting to see TRAIN with Matt Nathanson and The Fray in concert!
  • The blog has gotten boring

The blog has gotten boring because I feel like I’ve hit a rut- not with writing or anything in itself but just a general RUT. Warning, rant ahead.

Exactly a year ago I was leaving to spend a month in Vietnam, teaching English and coaching soccer, without knowing a single other person there. I felt like a made a difference, even though I didn’t see how at the beginning, and I learned a ridiculous amount about myself and the world. After that I had my final year of college and college eligibility to look forward to- all the highs and lows and every glorious moment in between.

Currently, my life is working full time and working part time and working events on and off. While I comprehend how much I am learning in a professional capacity, and how fortunate I am to have an internship (and a job immediately following) right after graduation, I’m not feeling that spark of excitement and nerves. I’m feeling a mild buzz of excitement that accompanies wanting to do a great job and learn and excel- but am I really pushing my boundaries? Am I in a role that requires the characteristics I utilized in Vietnam, like thinking on my feet or simply adapting to my surroundings?

I find myself coming home from the office, day after day, and spending hours researching graduate programs, or international volunteer opportunities, or various certifications. I’m in all-in kind of person, and I’m struggling with finding “hobbies”. I don’t know how to “dabble” in things at all. If I run 3 miles one day I imagine training for a marathon. I’ve already made a spreadsheet comparing various Master degree programs, and yet another spreadsheet for international opportunities. I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing unless I’m doing it 110%.

So I come home and I write about what I packed for lunch that day because I am too indecisive to write about anything else. Before all my spare time (outside of training and class) was dedicated towards job hunting and preparing for camp. Check and check. Instead of feeling relaxed that there’s less on my plate I’m finding myself scrambling, looking for ways to better myself or create something tangible. I get so frustrated that I don’t come home at night and am super productive but I don’t even know what I would be doing with my productivity. Side note: I complain to my boyfriend that my morning workouts aren’t as long as I want them to and that I wish I was writing more and cooking more in the evenings and he responses by asking me why I feel like I have to be productive from 5:30am-10pm?

Constantly I find myself going over the possibilities: I could train for a marathon which would be a real challenge because I suck at running. I could apply to graduate school if I ever decided on what school is a good fit (I’m pretty set on what program is for me at least) (and figured out how to pay for it). I could book a flight to somewhere half way around the world just to feel like I’m nervous about something again. Nervous about a performance or an outcome that I have 100% control over, like how prepared I am for a competition or how adaptable I can be in a new role.

To quote my own speech to the Athletic Department last February, “I’ve learned that I can do hard things. That I can do seemingly crazy things…Leap, and the net will appear. Just jump and you can figure it out on the way down.”

“I am saying yes, to every opportunity, and trusting that I will be okay”

I am an “all-in” kind of person, but what happens when I want to do everything? When I find myself standing on the edge of whatever opportunity I choose to pursue, and I simply can’t decide what to do because I want to do all. I WANT to say yes to every opportunity- sign up for races and write a book and start a business.

I think what I’m trying to say is that I’m bored, and I don’t want to “try” things. I want to find a thing, and throw myself into it. I want a goal, or an end point, and I want to struggle and complain and find a way to get there because as it turns out that’s what I love. Working 40 hours a work in an office and 20 hours a week retail has taught me that I thrive on the idea that success is entirely based on my preparation. I need a moment, or an event, where all the work can be displayed. Where all the work is apparent and the success of that venture is a direct result of your hustle and your commitment to the goal.

My entire life I have been in school or training for a competition or applying to jobs. I’m not feeling nervous about anything upcoming, and that is perhaps the most unsettling and unfamiliar feeling I could imagine.

Dreams QuoteEnd rant.