Gymnastics was my thing. I believed that it would carry me through my high school life and into my college life. It was my everything. I devoted my whole life into this sport only to see it crashing down on me. That’s how I felt when I decided to quit the sport. What do I do now? Is everything that I worked for gone? What should I do? I felt utterly lost after quitting this sport. I could no longer follow the path that I originally planned for myself. I watched everything that I worked for crumble. My friends gone. My goal gone. My lifestyle gone. Everything I’ve known to be gone. I was in a dark spot in the summer of 2020.
This was only the beginning of the worse. After I quit the sport, I felt a scary sense of both peace and anxiety. Peace that I no longer had to bear any more injuries and peace that I was no longer in the toxic environment at my gym. But at the same time, I felt impending doom. How am I going to get into college? Am I normal now? My coach always made it seem like being “normal” was something disgraceful. I felt like I was now average and sometimes below average. When I entered the school system, I noticed all the talented people around me and all their achievements. Since I was new to the school, there was no way for me to automatically fit in. For example, I couldn’t be a club president since I just joined, and I didn’t know how any of the clubs worked. People around me were winning competitions in these clubs while I had nothing going for me in the extracurricular department. I was use to always being known as the “over-achiever” and now I was an “underachiever.” Nothing in my life was normal and I fell deeper into despair.
I understood that my decision to ultimately quit gymnastics had consequences, but I never imagined it would affect me this much. By this time, my junior year was starting. This meant preparing for college and testing. I was unaware of how any of that stuff worked. I’ve never studied for the SAT or the ACT nor have I ever taken any AP courses before. Since I was homeschooled, I was only given honor classes and never AP ones. Not only that, but I barely managed to finish a total of 6 honor classes my freshman and sophomore year with my 30-hour schedule of gymnastics schedule. All of my friends who weren’t in gymnastics already had 2 to 4 AP classes already under their belt. I felt inadequate compared to both my gym friends and my outside friends.
When I enrolled my junior year, I opted to complete my first 3 AP courses (U.S. History, Music Theory, and Environmental science). I had to quickly adjust and pretend that everything was okay. I had to trick myself that I was use to a demanding academic life in order to feel somewhat stable. I would find myself saying “this is totally normal. I’m used to this. I’m okay.” In reality, I’ve never felt okay or “normal” since leaving the sport. To add on to my misery, the world was facing a global pandemic. Everyone was in despair and I told myself that I could not push my misery onto anyone. I also lost my grandpa in the same year, so I felt like I couldn’t push my my troubles onto my parents either. I knew that quitting a sport couldn’t compare to losing a parent.
I was in constant despair and developed my own motto, “Sulking doesn’t help but doing does.” Over these past few months, I’ve learned to be stronger. I cannot live my life regretting my decision and being in constant pity. I will move on. Although gymnastics gave me constant frustrations and sadness, it also shaped my character. It made me stronger and I have to thank the sport for doing so. Gymnastics will always be in my heart and this is my goodbye.