Saying Goodbye To The Sport That Built Me

Saying Goodbye To The Sport That Built Me

I realize that through all those hardships of being in a competitive sport really formed me into the person I am today...
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We, as humans, have passions. Passions that drive us each and everyday to live our lives to the fullest doing the things we love. Whether that be video games, cars, shopping, or exercise, there is a passion in everyone's life that molds a person into who they are. Although my current passion lies with writing and my love for English literature, that fire I feel now wasn't always a part of my life throughout high school. Instead, I found my drive in dedicating an hour and a half every weekday to the ring, practicing and competing on my high school's track and field team as a discus thrower. As I worked hard each and everyday, not only did I develop my athletic abilities, but also my personal character as I learned important life lessons through the sport.

Throwing has always been a love of mine ever since I was in elementary school. Throughout my childhood, my dad was the assistant track and field throwing coach and would bring me along to practices. I was mesmerized by the discus throwers especially; how they strode into the ring with confidence, the way the spun and glided throughout the ring, and the strength and power they displayed when releasing the discus. It was from that moment on that I was inspired to become like the throwers I had looked up to.

Enter seventh grade, the first year I was able to participate in school sports. After many years of watching, I had finally been able to participate and compete in the sport I had admired. Throughout my first year, I had spent time after practice with my dad, drilling through the basic throws and developing my form in order to further my throw's distance. Improving day after day in practice was my joy. I'd leave practice feeling accomplished and excited for the next track meet because I could show myself, my dad, my other coaches and teammates the result of all my hard work. Eventually all that work would come to pay off from eighth grade through my sophomore year of high school. In the eighth grade, I was the youngest thrower on the high school varsity team, out-throwing many of my teammates at the young age of 13. I was named Rookie of the Year that same year and qualified for state for the next three years. But by far my greatest accomplishment was placing seventh place in the state track meet my sophomore year of high school. At that point I felt on top of the world and the only way to go from there was up.

But my perspective and love for the sport drastically changed after my starting my junior year. Anxiety and self-doubt consumed my mind as I would pressure myself to beat one of my greatest competitors: myself. I often questioned "what if" when it came to the fear on falling backwards and not performing to my own expectations. Will my dad be disappointed in me, thinking that I have wasted all my hard work? Could I have personally done better during practice? All these thoughts festered in my mind, leaving me nervous to each and every competition. It eventually came to the point that throwing wasn't a passion I thoroughly enjoyed. It made me afraid of the possibility of disappointing myself, my coaches, my teammates, everyone.

These thoughts hindered my mindset and affected me in competition. It was a constant cycle of feeling anxious and heavily pressured before a competition to coming out disappointed and upset afterwards, leading me in a downward spiral of continuous shame. Each and every competition was like a section of a roller coaster, I had my ups and my downs but all of them were a wild ride of emotions up until the end of my senior year season.

One question that always was in the back of my mind: "Am I going to continue my throwing while in college?" And for years, the answer was yes. Not only was it something I loved at the time, but if I had gotten good enough, I would be able to impress colleges and be offered scholarships. But in the end, I decided to hang up my throwing shoes and toss in my uniform. I still felt a love for throwing, just the concept of feeling overwhelmed in competition shakes me of any desire to continue on in college.

Looking back after two years of not competing in sports, I realize that through all those hardships of being in a competitive sport really formed me into the person I am today. Throwing taught me to seek out the drive to do my best in every aspect of my life. The world itself is a competition on who can do what the best and most efficiently.

But it also made me find my limits. I am human and I can't do everything all at once and I may not preform my best all the time and that's okay. As long as I gave it my all I should be satisfied no matter the outcome.

Finally, I've learned that hard work always comes with payoff. To be able to do anything well, it takes time and patience. If you truly find yourself determined to work hard for your goals, they will be made into reality some day.

Cover Image Credit: Mary Pilon

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Sorry Not Sorry, My Parents Paid For My Coachella Trip

No haters are going to bring me down.
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With Coachella officially over, lives can go back to normal and we can all relive Beyonce’s performance online for years to come. Or, if you were like me and actually there, you can replay the experience in your mind for the rest of your life, holding dear to the memories of an epic weekend and a cultural experience like no other on the planet.

And I want to be clear about the Beyonce show: it really was that good.

But with any big event beloved by many, there will always be the haters on the other side. The #nochella’s, the haters of all things ‘Chella fashion. And let me just say this, the flower headbands aren’t cultural appropriation, they’re simply items of clothing used to express the stylistic tendency of a fashion-forward event.

Because yes, the music, and sure, the art, but so much of what Coachella is, really, is about the fashion and what you and your friends are wearing. It's supposed to be fun, not political! Anyway, back to the main point of this.

One of the biggest things people love to hate on about Coachella is the fact that many of the attendees have their tickets bought for them by their parents.

Sorry? It’s not my fault that my parents have enough money to buy their daughter and her friends the gift of going to one of the most amazing melting pots of all things weird and beautiful. It’s not my fault about your life, and it’s none of your business about mine.

All my life, I’ve dealt with people commenting on me, mostly liking, but there are always a few that seem upset about the way I live my life.

One time, I was riding my dolphin out in Turks and Cacaos, (“riding” is the act of holding onto their fin as they swim and you sort of glide next to them. It’s a beautiful, transformative experience between human and animal and I really think, when I looked in my dolphin’s eye, that we made a connection that will last forever) and someone I knew threw shade my way for getting to do it.

Don’t make me be the bad guy.

I felt shame for years after my 16th birthday, where my parents got me an Escalade. People at school made fun of me (especially after I drove into a ditch...oops!) and said I didn’t deserve the things I got in life.

I can think of a lot of people who probably don't deserve the things in life that they get, but you don't hear me hating on them (that's why we vote, people). Well, I’m sick of being made to feel guilty about the luxuries I’m given, because they’ve made me who I am, and I love me.

I’m a good person.

I’m not going to let the Coachella haters bring me down anymore. Did my parents buy my ticket and VIP housing? Yes. Am I sorry about that? Absolutely not.

Sorry, not sorry!

Cover Image Credit: Kaycie Allen

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Death Is Inevitable, So Live Every Moment To The Fullest

Just because our mortal lights will be snuffed out doesn't mean we shouldn't light the match.
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I saw the Rutgers production of "Der Mond" recently and I find it's sticking with me. Not particularly because of the production itself (although it was amazing and everyone did a great job) but more so because of it's message; no matter what we do, whether we live a sublime or squalid life, we all die. While obvious, this statement is astoundingly profound. It brings attention to the uncomfortable fact that we are mortals, that our planet will not be here forever. It can turn on that grim mental tape recorder that whispers in your ear, why are you still trying? Nothing matters.

But yet, here we are toiling away at our coursework, at our jobs, building friendships and relationships and networking. For some reason, we still try. It's amazing actually. People could slough off all responsibilities and spend time doing whatever they please because, in the end, everyone dies anyway right? But we don't. Why is that?

I do not claim to be a philosopher or any other title that would give me the jurisdiction to make such conclusions about why we humans continue to strive and try and work and dream. Truthfully, all this feels beyond my ken. But, I can offer is what I've noticed during my 20 years on this planet.

In my opinion, life doesn't matter. Moments do. Those little moments when you make a friend smile or get an A (or a passing grade because let's be real, passing feels good too) on an exam you studied so hard for or you win an athletic event or you play your heart out for a performance or you go to a concert with your friends or you kiss your significant other or you just take a walk and stare at a really beautiful tree. And even seemingly bad things can be moments too. Failing is an opportunity for growth and losing is an opportunity to reevaluate and create a new strategy.

So yes, no matter what we do, we will all die one day. But just because our mortal lights will be snuffed out, should not stop us from lighting the match. Do we refuse to light a Christmas tree (or insert whatever religious/spiritual thing you do) because we eventually have to take it down? No. Each moment is a spark waiting to set us ablaze. We just have to open our eyes and see it and ready our wicks to catch it.

Cover Image Credit: Maya Vadell

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