Dartmouth often advertises the “D-plan,” a schedule that gives students the opportunity to customize their own academic calendars and take off at various points throughout the year in order to pursue other life experiences. Many students have conflicting thoughts about the D-plan because while Dartmouth can feel like home, it can also be difficult to maintain relationships and stability when students are always leaving. Every winter term I take a break from my life as a student and step back into my life as a professional ski racer. While I am incredibly grateful for both of these aspects of my life, I sometimes find it difficult to bridge the gap between what seems to feel like two separate worlds.
Every time I leave school in the fall I have mixed emotions. On one hand I am incredibly excited to walk back into my life as an athlete. I love getting to see all of my teammates, spending all day outside in the beautiful mountains, traveling the world, and challenging myself to be better than I was yesterday. On the other hand, I am always so upset leaving school because it’s terrifying to think that while I’m off chasing my dreams on the snow, my life at school will continue on without me. What kinds of fun things are my friends up to? Will they even remember me when I get home? What little, funny things am I missing in their lives?
At the end of the winter I tend to have similar emotions when I walk away from my life as an athlete and step right back into my role as a student. I miss my teammates, having a single focus of being the best athlete I can be, and being physically exhausted instead of mentally burnt out. Not to mention how terrifying it is knowing that all of my competitors only have one life to juggle. Most of my competitors ski all year around, whereas I can only ski when I am not taking classes. I step back into my role as a student, terrified that in the last four months everything has changed, and somehow I always manage to pick up right where I left off. Everything just fits, like puzzle pieces.
I often joke that I have two completely separate lives and in many aspects that’s true. My friends at Dartmouth won’t ever really understand all the components and people that have molded me into the athlete I am. Similarly, my teammates and coaches will never quite understand the work that goes in to being an Ivy League student. What does make my two lives collide is how they have both shaped my character in such drastic ways. I have learned time and time again to work hard, to challenge myself, to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, and to stay humble. I have had so many people walk into my life who have inspired me to be a better version of myself. Whether that be mentors, coaches, peers, or professors, I am so incredibly lucky to have people in my life who believe in my dreams and goals more than I believe in them myself. My friends want me to succeed and they want to understand the different components of my life which gives me so much respect for them because of how genuine they all are. Even though we don’t always see each other, I am confident that the people who belong in my life are here to stay. So while it can be difficult to have what sometimes feels like two completely separate lives, I take comfort in knowing that each part of my life has shaped me into the person I am now and has set me up to be successful in the future.