The clock is no longer “running out” for me as an athlete because I somehow decided it wasn’t.
REGULAR GYM KID
As a child, I was an average-aged competitive gymnast.
My abilities fell decently in line within the usual track for getting a college scholarship, which was my ultimate goal from the ages of 6 to 13.
(As I type that sentence ^ it sounds kinda crazy pants but I promise you debating dream universities as a 6th grader is not uncommon in the gymnastics world.)
In short, I was a high-level gymnast, but so was everyone else I competed against.
So in sum: average and happy until I quit.
In my early teens, I thoroughly enjoyed being one of the youngest skilled athletes.
Like when the high school track coach would come talk to my mom after I would win races at middle school track meets.
Or when I was the only 9th grade tumbler on my senior all-star cheerleading squad.
I was super proud of stuff like that. Entitled about it even. *eye roll*
HOLY SHIT I BETTER HURRY MY ATHLETE CLOCK IS TICKING SO HARD
Then somewhere in my early twenties it all flipped.
I figured I was at the prime age for a lot of sports and I couldn’t boast about being young anymore.
Only placements and accolades mattered to me. This is when I became obsessed with lifting and my physique.
Looking back, there were a solid 10 years where I was just pushing to be the best bodybuilder, powerlifter, or functional fitness athlete I could possibly be as quickly as possible.
Every time I shifted sports (always due to burnout or injury), I felt like a huge failure because I didn’t become good enough to be one of the elites before closing that chapter.
The constant narrative in the back of my head was: “If I’m not gonna be good enough to be one of the best at this, then I need to get the fuck out and try something else because I’m going to pass my prime”.
Emotionally, it was pretty dark times.
Being in a such a hurry to get to the top “before I get too old” took a lot of joy out of my training.
It led to a ton of overuse injuries, lots of sleepless nights, and loads of anxiety.
It was a really bleak time. *sad emoji*
I SEE THE LIGHT AND I AIN’T IN NO HURRY
Now at the ripe age of 34, I thoroughly enjoy being one of the oldest skilled athletes for my sport.
I just looked up one day (the day I started writing this, obvs) and the script had delightfully flipped 🙂
The new narrative is: “Hot damn I can’t believe I’m in my mid thirties and still get to compete in gymnastics! I am so thankful for the opportunity to move and improve and work hard!”
While I always objectively knew it, it’s honestly taken me this long to actually feel like I’ve got all the time in the world to continue enjoying my athletic journey.
It’s not scary to spend a year or two (or five!) dedicated to gymnastics and then maybe go back to weightlifting if I wanted to.
I’ve proved to myself that things come back.
Skills come back, strength comes back, enthusiasm comes back.
And this time around, I have the time and money to train smarter, rest better, and enjoy more freedom than ever before.
After you’ve seen yourself through a few personal sporting eras, you notice that when they are over, your life isn’t over.
You can change your mind and come back later if it’s a good fit.
I mean of course some things don’t last forever.
But some do! And often better than they were before.
Ahh I’m just so damn grateful for my body and what it can do these days.