When I was a little girl, I dreamed of becoming an Olympic athlete. I would practice receiving my gold medal on an imaginary podium and imagine what it would feel like to achieve something so great. I spent hours watching televised sports and following the progress and performances of my favourite athletes. I cried when they cried, smiled when they did and longed to be just like them.
As I grew older, my dream began to fade. I didn’t participate in any sports and I grew self-conscious and scared to try new things, too worried about how I would look to others. I consciously narrowed my vision, believed that I would never be able to achieve anything athletic and gave up my dream. Of course, I will never know whether I could have achieved anything in sports. Maybe I would, maybe I wouldn’t. The point is that I gave up without even trying. I disregarded something that was important to me because I was too self-conscious and too afraid and I am determined not to do that again.
I think on some level I will always dream of that special golden moment on top of a podium. When I look back though, the athletes that most inspired me were actually the ones who faced adversity and overcame it, rather than those who were victorious and won the medals. The athlete who fell, got up and hobbled over the line in eighth place and the gymnast who damaged her knee and then did the final vault for her team anyway. Those who showed strength in adversity and resilience told the more powerful stories: overcome hurdles, get up when you are beaten down, carry on when every bodily cell is screaming QUIT. That is how real winning is done and I have learned that it is how a meaningful life is done too.
There are good days and bad days. Just yesterday I lay on the floor in my living room and had to fight with every fibre of my being to stay out of my box and remain in a positive mindset. The dark thoughts pop in when you least expect them and just like a marathon runner at the end of the race or the boxer wearily entering another round in the ring, strength is needed to push on towards the goal. Sometimes it feels as though progress is too slow, but it doesn’t matter how long it takes. When the goal is happiness, contentment and joy it will be worth the wait and more precious than gold.