the other side of fear

Transitioning from an athletic career involves facing some difficult questions.

Who am I if I’m not competing?

Will anyone care about me?

What the fuck am I going to do?

Some people have clearer answers than others. For me I’ve found that the first one was easyish to address. When you’re not playing top level sport, it makes sense to maybe put less store in the identity aspects of your profession that it does at the top. If you’re not doing a really good version of your job, then it’s tough to define yourself as that role. You automatically consider yourself not that good.

Will anyone care? In terms of will anyone care that you’ve left the team, or your company, people will care and say nice things. You may deserve them! Then, inevitably, someone else will turn up, sit in your spot and do your job. Everyone will quite quickly get on with things. This is normal.

Those around you will care, a great deal. They will go out of their way to help you out, sometimes in obvious ways, sometimes in ways that you don’t even really notice until a while after. These people are worth hanging on to and paying back in some way.

What am I going to do? I’m still figuring this out. Oddly enough, as rugby was the only thing I ever did, the only thing apart from reading books that I’ve consistently done for years, the answer to this was both elusive and worrying. It carried an odd sense of finality, as if this decision was huge and would be a big commitment.

Quite ridiculous when you’ve just found out first hand that things do end. Things that you’ve loved and pursued, things that gave you friends, memories and experiences can end from one day to the next. To then think that what you do next is of extreme importance is a bit silly. But that’s how I’ve felt about it.

The fear lies in the uncertainty, the sheer range of options and in the possibility of getting it wrong. Of picking the wrong thing. After years of being told when to show up, what to wear, how much weight to pick up or what exactly to do in specific locations of an arbitrary grass area, the sheer weight of decision making, of it being your own choice, feels scary. At least it has done for me.

Things feel like they’re firming up now. Oddly enough, I’ve seen several friends, family members and people close to me question their jobs recently, even quit them. Some of them have turned their back on prestigious professions to pursue something less gold star related in favour of something that will be theirs.

I made this the other day. I think it’s good. I feel like I can do a good job of it. But even if it’s not my forever thing, I’ve learned a lot bringing it to this point.