“Run. faster. more. 6 days a week. it’s not enough! keep going! you can do it…!”
I was 14, pursuing my dream of one day going to the Olympic Games. For days in a row, year after year, I was watching sports channels of my favorite athletic disciplines. For days in a row, I trained 2-3 hours per day. I wanted to go to a high school, that was focused on sports. I wanted to dedicate my life to sports and study the topic.
I thought to myself: If I just train hard enough, I will make it. Just be persistent!
I could have listened to my body, that seemed to have always an injury, shortly before a competition was on.
I thought to myself: No worries. The next competition will come when the time is right. Just be patient!
I could have listened to my body when I woke up tired, my performance decreased and even the coach asked me if I sleep enough.
I thought to myself: This is just teenage age and hormones. Just make it work!
Now, you, my dear reader might think: Ok great. She just needed to be persistent, patient and make it work! Lame article. I am sorry to disappoint you…
At age 15/16, I had developed such a strong pain in my foot that I could barely walk. I went from physiotherapist to physiotherapist. “Make it work!”, I begged. “I have big goals!”, I said.
You will never be able to do sports ever again.
There, the doctor, the expert said it: Never. Sports. Ever. Again.
Sure, I was still alive, but it felt like he ripped my heart out. I was in shock. This man, this expert, had just destroyed my life. No sorry. I must have done it. Or, my body has done it to me. I am a victim of sad circumstances. Why? Why me? It can’t be true.
At this point, I have to admit, that I struggled in my life a lot. My grades at school suffered, my wellbeing suffered.I even went to see a psychotherapist spontaneously, begging him, to take me in, because: I. Just. Can’t. Do. It. Anymore.
There I was sitting in this spontaneous hour, that I never needed to pay, getting question after question which made me feel worse and worse and worse.
Wait, what did I just write? Worse? How could I feel even worse? Was I not just at the bottom of life? What life anyways? (And yes, this seems so mundane considering all things happening in other parts of the world, but remember, to me, this was my life goal)
Revelation No. 1: It COULD be worse!
I walked out of that session with the psychologist and felt strangely happy. Happy and relieved. I felt that, actually, I felt much better before I talked to him. So actually, I feel pretty great! Because you know what? I actually could walk again without pain!
So, what happened next?
I followed my second passion: Marketing. I had forgotten, that I was as a child the crazy one, staying in front of the TV when the commercial was on and left (!) when the movie was back on to take a toilet or drinking break. So indeed, instead of Sports, I turned my focus to Advertising!
Revelation No 2: There is always an Option B*.
I went on to work in advertising agencies for three years (and it’s still part of my life) but at that time, I still could not completely forget about my second passion. It turns out that, yes, some part of my right ankle seems to be missing and that, yes, I needed to watch it. But guess what: Step by step, I recovered and was able to walk, to jog, to run, to train. As a matter of fact, I was an athlete – maybe not the best of all, but I was running again!
Revelation No. 3: Never believe someone, just because he is called a doctor
I clearly remember this feeling, when I went for the first jog, being extremely afraid, that I would feel pain. First I didn’t. Amazing! And then I did. I was scared. I stopped. Yes, I stopped. Unlike before, I said to myself: I have come so far. I won’t overstretch my luck.
Revelation No. 4: Be resilient, yes, BUT listen to your body!
I focused on balancing my muscular system, I walked, I went swimming, I took it easy. I went back to running, I tried out different types of shoes, insoles, etc. and Most importantly: I took breaks, I made sure, I eat healthier again and sleep 8 hours a night or however long my body needed me to.
Revelation No. 5: To be resilient, you need to make things right for you.
In 2010, roughly 10 years after the doctor told me, I would never be able to do sports again, let alone be able to run, I completed the Masters of Sports Science at the German Sports University Cologne after passing an excruciating fitness test without an error and that 50% of applicants fail year in year out.
Revelation No. 6: Resilience takes time. And it’s ok.
*P.S: I am not affiliated with the book or the website, but if you are interested to follow-up further, have a look at Option B by Sharyl Sandberg and Adam Grant. After all, this gave me the inspiration, to finally publish my story on Thriveglobal.com
Originally published at www.earlyfrog.com