From the moment I arrived outside Dodds Hall on July 28, I was instantly hit with the unfamiliar from all angles. The first floor of the dorm was packed with potential members of the Miami Varsity Synchronized Skating Team. But none of us were official members yet. That's what this week would determine.
The first thing I remember thinking is how uncomfortably out of place I felt. A feeling I had never truly experienced in my life. Out of place in the humid Oxford air, in the hallway filled with girls I had never met who all seemed to know each other, and most of all, out of place trying to understand this new form of a sport I once thought I knew everything about.
I had grown up my whole life as a competitive figure skater. It was the one thing I always knew, the one thing that essentially made me, me. I was extremely successful for the majority of my teen years and continued to excel in the sport at a more rapid pace than anyone expected. But toward the end, a series of severe injuries came between me and my dreams. It eventually became physically impossible for me to continue skating at the level I was at. After a lot of consideration, I decided I couldn't bear quitting skating altogether. I had to find another way.
That was how I ended up here, at Miami University, trying out for the best synchronized skating team in the country. The only issue was that I had never tried synchronized skating in my life.
I thought to myself, how different could it be?
The answer is: very.
From the first day I stepped on the ice for tryouts, I was being peered at by judgmental eyes who could tell I had no clue what I was doing. I had never felt so foreign in a place where I was supposed to feel so comfortable. Skating was the one thing I could always rely on. The one thing I always knew I could do as well as anyone else. But suddenly, that truth disappeared into thin air.
I felt as though I was invading these girls' territory. They had grown up around synchronized skating their whole lives and had dreamt of being on this team since they were kids, and there I was, throwing myself blind into these tryouts on a complete whim. I couldn't blame them for being skeptical.
Needless to say, that week was easily the most humbling week of my life. I had to suck in all my pride and courage and admit to myself that I didn't know what I was doing. I had to form a new level of respect for this parallel form of skating that I had once deemed as "easy" and realize it is more challenging than I could have ever thought. I had to ask people for help, something that was never my strong suit. But hardest of all, I had to basically start from scratch with a sport I had just spent 18 years mastering. Humbling myself in such a way is one of the greatest lessons I've ever had to learn, and I now know that I was always meant to show up outside of Dodds 116 that day, scared and unsure and alone. I was always meant to take a deep wavering breath and step directly into the unknown. I am better because of it. And I know that I always will be.
I am thankful for that difficult, terrifying, emotional, and lonely week, one of the hardest I've ever endured in my life. And I'm even more thankful that I've found a new dream, a new passion to chase after with everything I've got. I could have never guessed I'd end up here. But I suppose our greatest adventures always are the ones we never expect.