From Student-Athlete to N.A.R.P.: How to Adapt
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From Student-Athlete to N.A.R.P.: How to Adapt

The final article of the series has arrived. If this transition has been a struggle for you, read on to learn how to adapt to the change.

From Student-Athlete to N.A.R.P.: How to Adapt
Laneisha Jeans

Once you've done something for so long, it becomes a routine. However, once you abruptly interrupt your routine, you can become shell-shocked. This is not uncommon.

After I stopped playing, it was like I didn't know who I was anymore. I had no idea what to do with my free time, and most times, I wasn't even motivated to do anything. For a while, rather than confronting the issue and being honest with myself, I wallowed in my sorrows and let the depression consume me. I know that post-retirement depression in student-athletes is a very common issue, and I want to help.

The journey of self-discovery since my retirement was long and tedious, but I am here to offer 7 useful tips to assist you. These are tips I wish someone would've told me when I was going through it all, and I know they will bring you one step closer to success if you follow them.

1. Acceptance & Forgiveness.

One thing I found I had the most trouble with was accepting the decision I made, and forgiving myself for it. So many times I felt guilty because I chose to stop playing. I felt like I let my parents down. I felt like I disappointed every coach and every recruiter who ever helped me get to where I was. I felt like I let my little sister down, and most importantly, myself. So many questions ran through my mind daily that made me second guess myself. I needed reassurance that I made the right decision. I had to remember that I made this decision for my own happiness and mental health. No matter the situation, your mental health needs to be considered a top priority. You need to accept it for what it is, and stand up for it. You did what was best for you, and although you can't see it clearly yet, things will begin to look up sooner than you think.

2. SELF-CARE, ladies and gents.

It may sound stupid because it's one of the most trending things on the internet now. You see it in the form of doing face masks or taking long baths with bath bombs. It may be corny, but it's definitely helpful. Don't be afraid to take time for yourself. Sometimes it's okay to isolate yourself if you need to recharge. Do things that make you feel good internally and focus on what makes you happy. Self-affirmation is key. Hype yourself up sometimes!

3. Write in a journal if you can.

Journaling is a great way to get your emotions out there, but not really out there. Maybe you're like me and don't like expressing your feelings to any and everyone. Putting them in a journal is an efficient way to release your stressors, as well as a way to see your progression. It's nice to be able to look back at what you wrote once before, even the hard parts, so you can look at how much you've grown. Write when you feel good, or write when you feel bad. The point is, just get your thoughts out there.

4. Don't let social media consume you.

As most athletes, your social media timelines are probably oozing with posts from other athletes you know. During this time of recovery it took a while before I was really comfortable watching basketball again. I didn't want to make myself feel bad about my decision and I felt I truly needed a break from it. Social media can be toxic if you let it, and if you need to take a break to refrain from filling negative thoughts in your head, don't be afraid to do so. Move your attention from your phone to the real world. Meet new people and make new connections. I took a break from Instagram for a few months and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. It was actually refreshing and felt good to focus on my reality, rather than my social networks.

5. Discover new forms of self-expression.

If your sport was your emotional outlet, it can feel difficult to find something new that interests you, or is an emotional release. Don't be afraid to try new things, maybe you'll find that there are other creative layers within yourself. Find new activities that make you happy. Even do a little research, you never know what you'll find.

6. Put yourself out there.

Sports can be magnets for new friends and colleagues. When you're no longer playing, you may find it difficult to meet new people or get involved. Don't let fear stop you from putting yourself out there and exploring. Talk to your classmates, find out what they're into. Who knows, maybe you guys will be the best of friends, or maybe they'll introduce you to someone you mesh with better. Take advantage of all opportunities, even if they seem unusual for you. The best way to successfully navigate through this self-discovery is to dive in head first. You wont know unless you try. Get around people who make you happy, and hold on to the good moments, as well as your progress.


I am a firm believer in trusting your gut. If you don't know what else to do, lock down and listen to yourself. Only you know what you truly want. At the end of the day, when you're trusting yourself and your decisions, you can look back on your past with no regrets because that is what you wanted at the time. Do what you feel is right, and don't let anyone allow you to doubt yourself.

The whole purpose behind these tips is to allow healing athletes to build themselves back up. It's never easy when something you did everyday is no longer what drives your daily schedule anymore. You get so comfortable doing something that you think you can't function without it. Like I've said before, your sport did not define you. Plenty of us are still in the ripe years of our twenties, and if you think you're the same person throughout your whole lifetime, this journey will reveal the truth to you shortly. Life is about growing and evolving. The best advice I can give is to accept the changes, step into your cocoon, and watch the newly transformed butterfly thrive.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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