Moving on from Student Athlete Status: The Art of Becoming Ordinary
I’m sure it’s no surprise when I tell you that most of us don’t achieve our childhood dreams of becoming a D1 athletic superstar. But I have to give a shout-out to ALL current and former student-athletes out there. If you are currently a collegiate athlete, I applaud you! And for those of you that are former athletes (like me), I applaud you too!
Everyone knows that all athletic careers come to an end, but for some reason ending your own athletic career can still come as a surprise. For many of us it happens sometime at the end of our high school years. I’m sure it sounds familiar. It’s the end of the academic year, and your final athletic competitive season. EVER.
There are many stories out there about moving on from sports as a college athlete. But the transition from high school athlete to ordinary college student is hard too!
For me, the most uncomfortable moment of this transitional period was explaining that I no longer planned to continue my gymnastics career in college. I started gymnastics when I was three years old. By second grade, I was on a competitive team. And I was competing in Junior Olympic competitions until I graduated high school. Not only had I created an expectation for myself to compete in college, but everyone else expected this of me too. How could I tell friends and family that this was no longer the path I was taking? What do you mean you are no longer a gymnast? Was I letting everyone down?
Talk about an identity crisis. The sport that challenged me, shaped me, and defined me was no longer a part of my identity. Every athlete has to face the question when they’re done: “Who am I?”
Tackling all sorts of emotions: I faced sadness, for no longer competing in the sport I loved, guilt-for letting everyone down, anger-for letting myself down, and loneliness-for no longer being a part of a team. Letting go of the sport I loved was not an easy thing to do. How could I transition into the ordinary?
Once an athlete always and athlete.
Although I was no longer a student athlete, I knew I could reinvent myself in a similar fashion. They say, “Everything that made you a success at your sport is what will make you a success in any endeavor if you call on it.” And fortunately for us former athletes, we are more equipped to handle life’s challenges than we may think.
Think about it… we have all of the skills to conquer the real world: time-management, effective communication, work ethic, teamwork… And while these skills may no longer lead to great athletic success, they will undoubtedly empower wherever your future may take you.
Even though your days of competing are over, be confident. Finding a new path seems disorienting, but it is important that you find a passion other than a sport. For some, the answer won’t come easy and that is okay! Just don’t be afraid to explore. Lastly, trust yourself. The same skills that empowered your success as an athlete will also empower your success in the real world!
Thanks for reading!