Here’s an article I wrote earlier this year for my Speech 183 class in UP Diliman.
To the figure skater on the verge of giving up, this is for you.
Imagine. You are sprawled on the cold hard ice, legs aching, feet cramping, and cheeks blushing because of all the people staring at you from the bleachers. It’s not even competition day, but the pressure is getting to you faster than a car speeding through an empty EDSA highway. You get back up, brush off the ice from your leggings, and try again.
Imagine. You’ve been working on this routine for months now. By this time, you’re supposed to nail all your jumps and execute all your spins like a natural. Oh, but the ice wasn’t forgiving today, and neither were your skates. Your feet are swollen, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to stretch your leg fully anymore because of that annoying pulled hamstring. As always, you ignore it, and carry on.
Imagine. It’s just a few days before competition, but you’ve got paper upon paper of schoolwork piled up on your desk. So many friends have left you behind because whenever they’d invite you out, you’d always have to turn them down. “Sorry, I’ve got training.” It’s just a few days before competition. You’re skating one of your last sessions, and you fall. This time, it’s bad. This time, it got you. This time, you can’t seem to move. You can’t get back up. You can’t ignore it and carry on. Your brain starts working at 100 miles per hour, and at one point, you just burst into tears.
That injury cost you, and you know it: no skating competition for you, not this year.
You’re on the verge of giving up.
Now, before making any rash decisions, you ask yourself. Why did I try this sport in the first place? What was it that made me fall in love?
You may say you started out for fun or because of friends. You might say that it has always been a dream of yours. Maybe it was to meet new people or try something new. Whatever the reason, you decided you loved the sport enough to pour your heart and soul into it. You were passionate, motivated, driven.
Figure skating hasn’t been just another hobby for you. It has become part of your way of life, and it’s not easy to take that away from you.
Fact is, you learned so much from the many years of training, things that you wouldn’t have learned otherwise. You learned just how crucial time management is. You learned how to love, get hurt, and love again. And this passion, this drive to strive harder and get better, it helped you cross the bridge over all your fears.
You’ve learned to keep yourself together, even when your whole world was falling apart. You learned to persist through all the boulders weighing you down. In figure skating, you learned how to win humbly and lose gracefully. It would hurt you to lose, but you learned that that pain would turn into drive: drive to be better. You’d think of performing with more grace, passion, and skill than you did the last time.
Figure skating taught you one of the most important life lessons of all: Your biggest competitor is yourself. No matter how hard you try, you’d never discover a more dangerous and difficult opponent than your thoughts. You know this. You’ve been beaten by yourself so many times during training and competition. Yes, it happens when you doubt yourself and your capabilities when in reality, you can perform your routine as if it was second nature. Yes, it happens when you start comparing yourself to others. Yes, it happens when you start trying for all the wrong things.
Before making any rash decisions, go back to the beginning. Remember why you fell in love. And this goes for every sport and every athlete out there.
Imagine. You are on the ice, and after weeks and weeks of practicing, you finally nail that new jump. Your coach applauds you, and your friends cheer you on because they know just how hard you’ve been working. After practice, you and your gang go out to get ice cream because you know you all deserve it.
Imagine. You are on the ice, ready to perform. The music fades in, and like magic, everything comes so naturally. You are gliding, spinning, jumping, flying through the ice. It feels great. You feel great. And after striking your final pose, the crowd erupts into a roaring applause.
Imagine the hundreds of reasons you chose to stick to your sport. Imagine the wonderful memories you’ve had, and the many more you’re most likely to experience. Imagine everything about your sport, from the good and beautiful to the bad and embarrassing. Just imagine. You’ll find your answer somewhere in that haystack of memories. You will.