“Thank God for the highs. Thank God for the lows. Thank God for the almost.” - Thomas Rhett, “Almost”
Here’s some food for thought for your Wednesday :)
I think the “almost” is something that is often resented by athletes, and people in general. Every injury, elimination from a tournament, or misstep that costs the team the win, has a reason. It’s important to recognize that reason, even though in the moment we tend to feel sorry for ourselves and place blame elsewhere. My dad always told me that champions have short term memory, they don’t carry the negatives with them. After going through my own experiences, filled with what feels like too many of these “almost” moments, I can say I agree with that statement, but not to its full extent. Yes, it’s good to not feel the sadness and pain that comes with loss of any kind because it can hold you back from finding greatness, but on the other hand, that “almost”, happened for a reason. Remembering it over and over allows us to really absorb what happened and analyze how it happened, how it affected us, and what we can learn from it. Without being able to remember that pain, I think there’s a lack of motivation or sense of urgency to right your wrongs, or achieve something that you never thought you could.
Similarly, when analyzing these “almost” moments, we can take a wrong turn and make them into reasons for self doubt. As an athlete, that’s your worst enemy. It’s tough because with physical limitations, you can typically find a way whether it’s through rehab, conditioning, or adjusting the way you fuel your body. With self doubt though, that’s a mental thing that only you have the power to overcome. It took me a while to realize this when trying to get over my own challenges and struggles, especially with the gymnast mindset ingrained in me. Being taught to show no emotion, no pain, and no fear was something that really hindered me from handling any negatives thrown my way. I never dealt with what I was feeling or any lingering pain I had, until I got to Michigan and had access to our sport psych team. It was the first time someone had explained to me the connection between the mental and physical aspect of sports, especially when you’re holding something in on the mental side. I had started my collegiate career as someone who had fully believed in everything happening for a reason, but along the way, that belief started to diminish. After talking to the mental health team here though, I began to find myself again and truly deal with things that were holding me back. I still struggle with these thoughts and feelings but that’s why I’ve turned to things outside the gym, like going for walks or even just writing my thoughts down. I learned that the “almosts” that I felt were holding me back, because I was tucking them away into a little box in my brain, were simply a part of my story that I should’ve been using as a stepping stone to where I wanted to go.
After figuring that out for myself, I began looking for other ways to release and think through my struggles, pains, or failures. When I feel self doubt creeping in now, I turn to those that build me up, in addition to the hobbies I already mentioned. My mom, my dad, my close friends, are all people who see me for me, and not just my sport. They see the whole me, and help bring the whole me out again, rather than letting an injured, sometimes both physically and mentally, version of myself prevail. Find your people and keep them close, even if they’re geographically far away. You never know when you’ll find yourself at another “almost” moment, and need them to build you back up so you can try again. After all, it’s about the journey, not the destination, so embrace the “almost” and allow it to enhance your life, even if it takes a bit to finally see the benefits.