A couple of years after college I remember having a conversation with another UTC Moc (yes, that was our mascot) if athletes have a harder time transitioning into the real world and why. Basically, as an athlete you’re physically and mentally wired to never accept status quo. You can always train more, be better, work harder. More times than not, it pays off. But there is no, ‘ok… this will do, my free throw percentage is fine at 70%.’
But in the real world, being a perfectionist and having this sports mentality creates personal confusion and conflict occasionally. There are a lots of reality slaps in the face after being a serious competitor. You’re not guaranteed anything for your hard work, so really it may not pay off. Believing that you can always do better creates issues in relationships or simply finding one. You expect a lot out of those you surround yourself with as well, and sometimes people aren’t up for the challenge of maintaining your expectations. And sometimes the desire to make every new experience better than the last, falls flat and disappoints. Someone who doesn’t have the same thought process or background may not experience or even think about any of these things.
Traveling runs parallel for me, but I didn’t realize it until now. I want to go and see and do as much as physically possible. Again, I’m wired that way. Pushing physical boundaries and telling myself “you can sleep when you’re dead”, and doing back to back trips when I should take a break and rest and recover. I want every new place and experience to be amazing and keep expectations really high… because I (typically) picked this place to see, and I planned the trip, people are relying on me, and it should be the best it can be (It’s a different ballgame if I trusted someone else enough to plan the trip). But the point is, travel has taken the place of basketball in the category of things I am passionate about, and I am now focused on making the most out of myself as a traveler.
To be honest, I’ve been looking back on my trip to Croatia feeling underwhelmed. But really, it was beautiful and everything anyone could have hoped for. I just expected and did too much. I guess I wanted yacht parties, meeting lots of travelers, historical moments of awe, and a new discovery in Montenegro. What I got was quality time with 3 girlfriends, amazing boat days in the Adriatic sea, beautiful views, and lots of swimming & hiking. THAT’S ENOUGH FOR AN AMAZING TRIP.
….if you hadn’t just gone to Greece, had a few days between that & going to Cuba, before having 3 days off and leaving for Croatia with plans of going to Poland directly after, then on to Hawaii. I slept in my own bed 12 nights in a stretch of 80 days. Because I have the ability to travel the world… and believe that I should take advantage of that opportunity and see and do as much as I can. It’s exhausting, and pushing too hard.
Moral of the story here, if you’re like me and struggle with 1. Expecting too much out of yourself and others 2. Trying to do too much or 3. Simply working too much, this is your reminder to slow down and take it all in along the way. Personally, I am slowing down for a couple of months (also bc I have to work my butt off now) and enjoying being home and Dallas, the city I actually live in.
I will never truly change my ways, and I wouldn’t want to. The lessons I learned through sports and being on a team are invaluable and I’m proud of the woman I am at 31 years old. It’s simply important to recognize what you’re doing to yourself and others and be able to take a step back and appreciate the little things, orrrr just slow down :).
In terms of Croatia…
-We stayed in an airbnb built into a fortress!
-I was able to shoot the shit with a French senator who previously taught international economics at Harvard and his wife, on a sailboat, drinking rosé!
-I spent a large amount of time drinking prosecco and playing cards with my friends!
-We did 2 different boat days island hopping in beautiful blue water.
-We climbed amazing medieval fortresses!
-We met a restaurant owner who took us to a ‘locals beach’ in Dubrovnik.
-I had the best grilled octopus meal, ever.
– I learned my limit for ‘too long away from home’.
So while I’m sure my competitor mentality will live on until the end of my days, I will try and tweak it ever so slightly and remember to slow down and take in the experiences rather than finding any little disappointments when MY expectations aren’t met. After all, that’s another sports lesson… when you realize you’re doing something wrong, fix it, and do better.
I know it’s not just a collegiate athlete mentality to be competitive or a perfectionist, that’s simply the world I know and biggest contributing factor in shaping who I am. Does anyone else struggle with this or find any truth in relating being an athlete with these post-sports issues??? How about others who just consider themselves perfectionists or go to hard and do too much? Do you believe we are just wired this way at this point?