As athletes, we sometimes tend to stretch the truth. We lie about our height, exaggerate what actually happened during a play, or we shave a few seconds off our forty yard dash time. We even lie about our athletic journey.
It must be an ego thing. Who wants to feel inferior? I know I certainly didn’t. I didn’t start owning up to my real athletic story until I graduated from college. For the longest time, I was embarrassed by my story, because in my head I wasn’t living up to my version of greatness.
Maybe you can relate?
I would twist the truth just a little bit so I could live up to the persona I built myself up to be in my head.
When people asked how I became a walk-on at The University of Oklahoma I would lie. I would say I tore my ACL playing football my senior year of high school and the offers that I had went away so I decided to walk-on at my dream university.
That statement was partially true. Yes, I tore my ACL and decided to walk-on at my dream university. But I had twisted the part about the offers. The truth was that I was not heavily recruited because, like most athletes, I had no idea the work it took to get recruited. The truth is that I did have offers. But they were to smaller schools. And my ego said, “No, you’re not going there.”
Now that I look back, I often wonder why I was so afraid to own up to my own story and keep it real with myself and those around me? Here are four reasons why every athlete should own up to their journey.
1. It makes you real
We all have pieces of our story that are harder to think about yet alone tell others about. And as athletes with our rub some dirt on it mentality, we often bury all things that cause us pain so deep in hopes they never appear again. But when we do that we lose a part of ourselves and what makes us authentic.
2. It can be the inspiration someone needs
Think about the number of athletes that look to Michael Jordan being cut from his high school team as a reason to try out again next year. Hearing your story could be exactly what another athlete needs get through a similar situation. We all want to leave a legacy and an impact. Sharing your story could help a generation of athletes you didn’t even know about.
3. It makes achieving your goals so much sweeter
Those challenging moments make achieving your goal that much sweeter. As athletes, we love being pushed to another level. When I finally got to run my first collegiate race after two years of not competing due to my ACL tear my senior year of high school and being kicked off the track team my freshman year of college after getting hurt, it was special. It didn’t even matter how fast I ran the race. Just knowing in that moment how far I had come made that day something I will always remember.
4. It sets you free
Stop striving to meet the world’s standard of perfection. Release the weight of trying to achieve the perfect athletic journey. Once you realize there is no such thing, you can walk in so much freedom knowing how unique your story is! What you’ve been through has made you into the athlete you are today. There is no need to lie, exaggerate, or stretch the truth about your story. No matter what happens along the journey your story is unique and personal. It impacts athletes all around you. Your story is inspiring and you should own it.
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