Do you know what (1) superstar athletes who can’t retire, and (2) a couch potato who can’t get moving, have in common?
Neither of them has a good enough reason to stop doing what they’re doing.
Before we do anything, we usually need to come up with a good reason, or motivation, for doing it.
This article is about the difficulties I have had transitioning from athleticism and competing to the life off the mat.
When I turned 6 I start wrestling because I needed an outlet to release the frustration of living with a mother who was emotional unavailable. At that time I didn’t know that. I was pushed by my instincts and driven by the subconscious. Since I couldn’t physically or emotionally get back to my mother, I start hurting my opponents. The more I trained, the more I could “hurt” others by wining my matches, and the happier I became.
I wasn’t a bully and a jerk, I just needed a relief.
There was so much pain to be released. Therefore, I trained, and I competed. I went through so much training that ultimately I won a world championship title. You can only imagine the level of my discomfort. At that time I had a good reason for what I was doing.
Regardless of my athletic accomplishments, I always needed an outlet for the drive and emotions generated by a dysfunctional childhood. However, my body wasn’t getting any younger, and I slowly start feeling the consequences of the sport, and my age.
I was 23 years old and have not reached the pinnacle of my wrestling career, but I became aware and somehow realistic of my chances of reaching the level I’ve dreamed of.
There was a question I start flirting with, and that was, how long am I going to compete for?
And, what am I going to do after I’m done with my athletic career?
While the drive and desire to prove myself, to my parents and everyone else was still there, my body was aging and time was slowly slipping away. Sooner or later I needed to make a decision regarding my future and myself.
I had a good reason to live up to that point.
I lived to “make weight” and eat a good dinner. I lived to train, compete and win medals. I lived to hang out with my teammates and experience life on the fast track. I had a good reason to practice the sport of wrestling and attend competitions. There was a conscious reason, the medals, the fame and the career, and a subconscious one, to be validated, accepted and loved. While I partially accomplished, or better said, fulfilled the first reason, there was still a lot of work to be done in achieving the second, that is, finding validation, acceptance and love.
One thing was becoming more and more clear. My days as an athlete were getting shorter and shorter and the nights of facing my demons felt like they were getting longer. I needed another challenge at least as big as the one I had lived with most of my life.
The opportunity to leave my hometown and country, Romania, and to feed the drive and chase another dream finally arrived. Without even knowing it, I was about to find another reason to live.
Since validation, acceptance and most importantly love never came to me while growing up (or at least they were never emotionally or verbally expressed), the drive to hear, feel and achieve these things was still intense at the age of 23.I quit the national wrestling team, bought a plane ticket, and moved to a country where I knew hardly anyone. I didn’t speak the language, and I didn’t have any specific plan.
One thing I knew thought. I was scared and exited at the same time. I now had another reason to live, and thrive.
In the same way that a sedentary person doesn’t have a reason to get back in shape, professional athletes, especially accomplished ones, also have a hard time quitting their competing careers, because they just haven’t found an outlet for their constant drive.
It might be love you are looking for, or validation and acceptance. However, it doesn’t matter how many medals and titles you’ll win, or how much money you make, the pain will never go away if you’re not aware and able to fulfill the real pursuit. The more success and the bigger the drive you have, the more help you’ll need during and after your athletic career, to figure out what you want to do next.
Breathing, Growing, Aging and Dying, are among very few things we are experiencing without a reason. We may think there’s a good reason for why growing is happening, however, breathing, growing, aging and dying can also happen without any reason.
There’s a reason for everything else you do.
Among many other things, another thing you need to have a good reason is, Living.
Even if you don’t know why you are alive, or what you want to do and it takes you 50 years to realize that, finding out the answer to that question is still a good reason to live.
You have a reason for laughing, even that may not be a good one according to the ones who don’t laugh. There might not always be a good reason for crying, or eating desert for example, but we do it anyways.
Before we do anything, we always come up with a good reason, even in the last minute, for doing it. The same way goes with living.
Often, we need to have a reason to stop something, and even a bigger reason to start something else.
The more successful you are at doing something really well, or doing nothing at all, the harder it will be to put an end to it. You need a next big thing, or just a really good reason to start living, or living again.
I found mine. Do you need help to find yours?