Saturday, March 24, 2018

Olympic-Sized Disappointments

Photo by Liam Simpson

I don't know about you, but I had high hopes for the Olympics this year.  The 2016 Olympics, with Michael Phelps, the Final Five, and Usain Bolt, however, was a hard act to follow.  Considering all of the recent national and world events, I was ready to be uplifted by Olympians reaching for their dreams.  (See my post at the start of the games last month: ) 

We did get to witness our share of awesome Olympic moments-Chloe Kim, Michaela Shiffron, the U.S. Curling Team (Who'd have thought!), and my favorite of the year, Shaun White.  I have enjoyed watching athletes like Shaun over the years as they rose to victory, fell to defeat, and rose again to an even sweeter victory.  I love that.  The victories that come from valleys are the best ones to watch, because it is in the struggle that greatness is birthed.

The Olympics this year were also a bit disappointing.  As a U.S. Figure Skating enthusiast, I can attest to this.  As I mentioned in my earlier post, I watched the entire Grand Prix series and the U.S. championships in preparation for the Olympics.  I was so ready for Nathan Chen to take home the gold.  His first two skates were so sad to watch, as he fell so many times.  I was yelling "NOOO!!!" at the TV, so sad and disappointed for him.  He is such a good skater, and had the potential for so much more.

These disappointments, though on a grander scale, represent those in our everyday lives.  We work so hard for our dreams.   Some spend years in school or training.  Others put in years on the job, hoping for advancement.  For others, it is years put into a relationship.  Many of these aspirations lead to huge disappointments and pain.  Career and personal goals are shattered as people let us down and jobs don't live up to what they promised to be.  Even hobbies can let us down as we no longer have time for them amidst the daily grind.

Everyone faces disappointment in their lives. Maybe we didn't fall on a quad jump, but something happened to us that made us question our dreams.  We all face disappointment, but the question is, what will we do with it?  Will we let our disappointments hold us back in fear from dreaming new dreams?

One thing I've learned from watching the Olympics is that much of it is a mental game.  Many times you can tell if a skater will skate a bad program just by looking at their face beforehand.

Olympians live life on a grand scale.  Every waking moment is put into training for their sport and then it all comes down to those seconds or minutes that really count.  Olympians face great disappointment.  It's what they do with it that matters most.

After two imperfect performances, Nathan Chen picked himself up, dusted himself off, and gave a record-breaking performance in the free skate.  He performed 6 quad jumps--more than any man in the world has ever attempted.  I found myself screaming at the TV again, only this time it was "YES! YES!  YES!"  It was awesome.

The world waited to see if he could pull himself up from 16th place to medal contention.  He came close, but in the end, he ended up in 5th.  As we learn from Nathan, there will always be those "What if?" moments in life.  "What if I hadn't fallen, would I have taken home the gold?"  Life has a funny way of reminding us that we can't go back.  What we can do is take those disappointments, put them behind us, and move forward.  We begin again on the first day of practice, with four years on the clock.  We start a new job, begin a new relationship, start a new hobby.  We determine our next dream and go for it with all we've got, not letting fear hold us back.