Monday, July 30, 2012

Olympian Effort

I love the Olympics.

 I always have.

This is me
 in the
Paige Turner Era.

 So much so that when I was a kid, I used to pretend I was an Olympic Gymnast named Paige Turner. 

(For realsies. I was born to be a Proser.) 

I don't know exactly what it is I love about the Olympics. Maybe it's the pageantry, or the history, or the fact that every nation is joining together in peace to try to be their best. Or maybe it's the Olympian's themselves-- dreamers who've sacrificed so much for this one day, for one race or competition, and success or defeat is one stuck landing, or step out of bounds, away.

I think writing is like that. There are more Prosers out there than there are Pros. More writers will not receive medals, or awards, or even shelf space than there are writers who will.

And that's okay.

In fact, that's kind of awesome.

I tell my kids all the time that I believe in them. I tell them that they can do anything they want to do, be anything they want to be.  Rock Star? Absolutely! Doctor? Sure, I'll just pay for that medical school with my imaginary shoe box full of money. Olympic Gold Medalist in swimming?  Yes, but that means you'll have to learn how to actually put your head under water, Child of Mine.

Truth is though, they probably can't do everything (Brilliant and perfect though they are). 

Am I helping them by lying to them, or am I hurting them?

One of the problems that happens when people believe in you, is that their belief turns heavy when reality starts poking in her head. It can  start to feel like you aren't working to achieve a dream for yourself, but because your teachers, or parents expect you to. And then, when you can't, or even when you don't want to do your dream anymore, it feels like you are failing them.

 There is nothing so soul crushing, I've found, as realizing you aren't being everything your parents and teachers dreamed you would be.

I've started to change my words. Now, whenever my children say they want to be something, I say, "I just want you to be the very best YOU you can be."

Do you think, even for a second, that the slowest Olympian's parents aren't beyond proud of their child? Can you think, even for a moment, that the athlete who places last, or who doesn't qualify for the final race, isn't an Olympian? 

 An Olympian isn't an Olympian because of a medal they wear. What makes a person an Olympian is the effort that brought them there-- the sacrifices, the heart, and the stubbornness.

A writer isn't a writer because they've been published either. What makes a person a writer is the effort, the heart, and the stubbornness that they won't give up. What makes a writer is...writing. Simple. So often our dreams, and the dreams of others reflected on us, can get in the way of the words. So often, fear of not achieving dreams, and often fear of ACTUALLY achieving our dreams, gets in the way of putting words on a page.

Advice for today: stop focusing on the pressure of the podium, and just be your best. Have fun. Break the rules. Go crazy.

We can only do the very best we can, so be proud, because your best IS enough.



  1. I've been having so much fun watching the Olympics this week. When I was in high school I joined the swim team, and I too dreamed of being an Olympian. Then I broke my knee and that dream faded away. It's completely true though that sometimes you get caught up in living your dream for other people. I love your pep talks. It really puts things into perspective. Thanks Sheena!

  2. Sheena does give the best pep talks. :)

    I tell my kids they can be anything they want to be, and I mean it. They are so young right now. I see them as little balls of endless potential waiting to be shaped. But that is going to change as they get older. Time is already running out on that Olympic gymnast dream.

    I think it is good to have big dreams. They make us work hard and push ourselves. But if winning the gold medal or winning a Pulitzer or being the next Stephenie Meyer is all that matters, you are bound to be disappointed. If you don't enjoy the journey, then even victory is hollow. But if you love what you are doing while you are doing it, then you will be happy even if you don't achieve all your goals.


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