...Like, right now. And I don't care who knows it.
- 2007 USA Swimming National Championships:
"You're super bright. But you're not a world-class swimmer. Maybe you should just pack it in."
This was my coach at the time. And, OK, it wasn't *exactly* in the meet at this moment. I was actually sitting in the parking garage outside of the meet. I was in the midst of an involuntary attitude adjustment.
You see, I had already swum my 3 individual events at the meet. I had failed to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Trials time standards in all three. I was supposed to swim one more race: The leadoff leg of a 400m medley relay. Backstroke! I didn't even like backstroke. I was scheduled to swim it out of team necessity as the fastest in our group...but my event time of 1:06.66 hadn't even qualified me to swim the event individually at the meet!
But I was handed, in that moment, a choice.
My coach was asking if i should 'even bother' swimming the relay since I had, admittedly, become extremely negative over the course of the meet after not getting what I wanted in my own races. I could back out of the last race and retire from his training group. Or I could get my shit together.
"WELL FUCK ME," I thought, "My confidence is wavering, but not my pride....DICK."
That night, at 9pm, in the last event of the meet, I slammed the touchpad and looked up to a 1:03.27. I had qualified for the United States Olympic Trials in a seemingly random event. By over a second. I got out of the water and nearly took the arms off the coaches via high-five. I wrapped up my 20 year swimming career the next summer, retiring and skimming into the Top 100 world rankings in that event for the 2008 year.
- Almost becoming a brain surgeon. Then quitting stuff. All kinds of stuff. 2009-2010:
After I retired from swimming, I went to medical school. As I progressed through classes, I felt less and less comfortable with the fact that I could visualize the contour of my *entire* career until (if) I retired. I became exceptionally depressed. By spring, I was plotting diversions and building escape hatches "just in case."
For the summer of 2009, i got a job teaching pre-medical students @ UCSD in La Jolla, CA. For 8 weeks, I lectured and taught small groups. I surfed. I swam with the UCSD masters team through sunrises and sunsets. I kayaked over a (leopard) shark. I was in love.
As my time there closed, I had to confront my feeling that i was simply not ready or capable of returning to a life that didn't make me feel like this consistently. I called the dean and went on leave of absence. That was August 2009 and that leave has been extended indefinitely.
- NOW. This very moment:
Leaving med school felt monumental at the time. I can summarize how my decision was met by friends, family, and almost everyone who learned about my history in three words: "Who does that?"
I guess I do.
Since then, I have tried to move with my intuition but I've struggled against practicality. Maybe my guts had been exhausted by the decision to leave med school. But it took me until 2011 to get back to California. I had been working for a healthcare consulting firm. And, on an otherwise-dismal three week trip to the northwest, I had an epiphany in a mountain valley in Montana at 6:30am on my way from Missoula to Kalispell.
For brevity's sake, I can tell you that shortly after, I had quit my job, packed everything I could fit into my car, and driven to California. Since then, I've hustled together a portfolio of digital work - assisting with branding, social media, and editorial content , working behind the scenes for my clients for the most part.
But, by the end of 2012, I was ready for the next challenge. I had resolved to run into my fears in 2013 instead of guarding against them or running from them. But admittedly, I wasn't exactly sure *how* or *what* I'd do next. I hadn't read Amber's blog in a while, but this morning I stumbled on her post about letting love - not fear - lead you.
So, hey there. I'm stepping out from behind the scenes. And it's time to follow my advice: I want a piece of that BOLD Academy learning curve. But, if not, at least I said this out loud.
With much love to what you're doing, Amber and team,
If you like my story, say hi or give it a share! Love you.