Canceled. Canceled. Postponed indefinitely. I feel like that’s all we are hearing now, and although I understand why and I agree with the measures being taken, I also feel and share the immense pain and sense of loss that so many others are feeling.
Coronavirus has canceled all of my speaking gigs and legitimately put my career on hold. It is an incredibly tough time for me, financially and emotionally.
But aside from my experiences as a speaker, I think about my experiences as an athlete. I think about outdoor track season during my senior year in college and having one more season to try and reach my goals. A short season, but still plenty of time to prove to myself what I was capable of. You never really think about how those opportunities will be taken from you so rapidly. My heart breaks for all of those athletes, whether it was their senior year or not, who had so much to gain, and had it all taken away from them in the same moment. The athletes who were about to toe the line to run their races, or play in a championship game and were told in the same breath that they needed to go home. The pain is unfathomable for me.
To all of my fellow athletes or to anyone feeling some type of loss right now, I hope you know right now in this moment that how you feel is more than okay. It is okay to feel sad, angry, confused, hopeless or full of fear at this point. The thing about not having control over a situation is that, as humans, we naturally get upset. So with that, you are not alone. My wish is that you all take a moment to take a step away and reflect. Use your teammates, friends, and family to lean on. Express the frustration that you have. But remember that this is completely out of your control.
I think about my mom’s cancer, which was and still is completely out of my control. I think about how much that ruined me this year, but also made me stronger than I knew I could be. I can look back in years to come and say, “wow, I got through that”. Just like I got through injuries that held me back, lost championships and athletic goals I never reached, all situations that I never thought I would recover from, but I did. I think sometimes these scenarios, as crappy as they are, give us room to grow and to reflect, something we may not have been able to do otherwise.
We always say that tomorrow is never promised, but the next meet, the next game, the next speaking gig, the next class, none of that is guaranteed either. My coach used to say, “Run every meet like it’s your last.” To me, this is a lesson to live more in the moment. It has allowed me to once again reframe my mindset and to see that the cancellations in my life may have been a blessing. I have been challenged to find the good in a bad situation.
Times like these, it’s more important than ever to practice self-care. So yell, scream, cry, do what you need to. You deserve to feel the feelings you are having. But then take a moment to reflect. Try and find the good. Be able to take a moment to journal, go for a walk in nature, run, cry to a friend, breathe, embrace this opportunity to identify yourself as more than an athlete. Reflect on your accomplishments thus far. And even if you didn’t quite meet the goals you had for yourself, remind yourself that you did all that you could with the time that you had. And that’s really all you can control.
Moments like these build resiliency. And resiliency builds and molds your life into exactly what you dreamed, and likely even more. One day you’ll look back and say, “Wow, I got through that”, and you will have a resiliency that propels you into the future, stronger and more prepared than ever for future unfortunate events. You will cherish the memories of what was, and maybe you will always long for what may have been, but you will have gotten through it. Until that realization comes, it’s okay to be angry. It’s more than okay to seek help and seek out a shoulder to lean on during this painful time. I suggest that you do, because you are not alone. And if you feel alone, I can’t imagine your sense of loss, but I am experiencing my own. Reach out to me. We are in this together.
This too shall pass. I promise you, I promise you, I promise you.
Keep fighting, my beautiful warriors.