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.