When I first started this blog I asked myself how personal I was willing to be, and what kind of things I wanted to write about. I knew I wanted it to reflect my genuine feelings. But there is a fine line to walk between being honest and respecting your own privacy. With all the social media that we deal with, it is really hard to show negative emotions without sounding whiny or annoying. But I think that facebook and blogs can be really misleading because people only show the awesomest and coolest parts of their lives without ever reflecting that most people feel lonely, sad, frustrated, and worried at times. And most people grow and learn the most about themselves when they go through the hardest periods in their lives.
That being said, I struggled to write this summer and fall because I went through some major changes and they were too personal to write about. This was the first real challenge in my life. I have been blessed with a privileged life, a positive outlook, a cheerful disposition, and a lot of joy; it was shocking in many ways to feel so low. It just didn’t feel genuine to concoct enthusiastic blogs about how great training was and all the fun I was having because everything was really shadowed by my own sadness. Everything in my world as an athlete and a person was affected by this tumultuous change and I didn’t feel like I could move on and write honestly without acknowledging that.
There is this ideal that athletes are always super focused and that we live a life aimed only at reaching our competitive goals. I think this is true in some ways and there are those who can put their heads down and live in a cave for their sport. However, this has never been my style. I have come to terms with this I know when it is time for me to say no and make the right choices for training and when it is time for me to say “@$%#^” it and do something that is the right thing for my head. This was especially important for me this summer. I burned the candle at both ends for weeks at a time trying to be professional in training, while running around frantically to fill the void inside of me and ease the pain I was feeling.
Our job is our lifestyle; even though we all try to separate our professional and personal lives, it’s not totally possible. There is so much crossover that whatever happens in your personal life has an affect on your athletic career. And conversely, our athletic life is so consuming that we spend most of our free time with our teammates and coaches, especially during the winter competition season. The repercussions of my personal life certainly invaded my training atmosphere and though I did my best to be happy, many times I was absent and lost in my own thoughts. I felt like I couldn’t relate to my teammates and I was more edgy and easier to upset. Luckily, everyone was patient and caring. My coaches were also incredibly supportive and understanding and helped me navigate my personal life and training.
The stress I experienced also manifested in a huge surge of adrenaline. I was totally exhausted, yet I couldn’t sleep at night or take naps despite being tired from training. I desperately didn’t want the upheaval in my life to ruin everything that I had worked so hard for and the good opportunities that I was finally able to take advantage of. Yet oftentimes I couldn’t do more than one workout in a day, when we usually train twice. Such strong emotions made me feel very tired. After I finally recovered a bit, I found that I started to feel really good. The pain from intensity workouts paled in comparison to the pain in my heart and training was a place of simplicity and focus. That was a pretty cool feeling.
For the first time in my life I feel old, and I realize it sounds silly to say that. I’m only 28 but I get worried about what I am going to do when I am done with biathlon and how I am going to make it work. We don’t save money doing this sport in the U.S., we usually make just enough to keep going. I absolutely love training and racing, but it can be difficult to make the time you are waiting to race meaningful. I tend to be a busy person when I am home, and on the road it is a very different life. Traveling all over and becoming friends with people from different countries is such an amazing experience but it too comes with it’s own challenges. At times I yearn to have my own home and feel settled somewhere.
However, I feel like I am slowly becoming myself again. I am fortunate to live such a privileged life because I am able to pursue my dreams and it isn’t a struggle to simply make it. I never worry about if I am going to have enough food or if things go badly for me, that I won’t have a safe place to be. I live in a beautiful place and am surrounded by loving people. I have superheroes for parents. Even with the challenges that this summer brought, it was still filled with such fun adventures and people to share them with. My sister and I often joke about how we have “first world problems”. However, they still felt very real to me and I know that without them I wouldn’t have learned so much about myself.
Now I am back on the racing circuit and I am really excited to race in my first World Cup on Thursday! I haven’t had the chance to compete here in Ostresund, Sweden and I think it is going to be hard but good! It’s been pretty warm here, but the snow is falling, it looks Christmasy outside, and it is cozy inside. The food here has been great, although the other night we were served a hotdog the size of my shin. That is very large. I even took a picture of it. I hope that I will be able to recount more of my training and racing adventures now that I have written about my summer a bit and gotten the elephant off my back.