Ooh, some great comments yesterday on my post about Nathan Chen/ the idea of him being “good at life”/ uber talented at everything, apparently!
I was going to respond individually but figured I’d just comment back publicly in a new post.
The main underlying theme from most people seemed to be a sense of skepticism about it all, like “Eh….I don’t know….that doesn’t seem like it’s all it’s cracked up to be.”
I think I agree.
Lisa mentioned a friend with a daughter who figure skates 6-7 days a week, twice a day, etc. at a very young age, and she was wondering what the “end goal” is for her. Elisabeth talked about a young girl who separated from her family for months to train in another country! Several people commented on just how much you’d have to sacrifice to reach that height, that level of achievement. I can’t even really imagine- but yes, it must be immense.
Diane mentioned the Mom Hour episode with the mother of Adam Rippon, Olympic figure skater. I also listened to that episode a while back and found it very interesting! She commented on Adam’s sister basically deciding that she did NOT want that life, and gave up her gymnastics dreams. She also did share about some of the huge sacrifices the family made for Adam to pursue his skating career.
So while it’s true that I still AM fascinated by extremely high achievers….and I love reading about them/ hearing their stories…. I also definitely don’t really think it’s a life I would want- or for my kids. I do love learning about what makes these people tick, though. It seems to me that in order to want to make those sacrifices, there must be something a little…different about you. Something that the rest of us can’t really relate to. Some kind of inner drive or desire or something. That’s probably what it takes to get to the top! If it were so simple and easy, we’d all be there. And maybe for them, the “sacrifices” don’t really feel like sacrifices. I don’t really know!
I read an excellent memoir years ago now called “Open”, written by tennis star Andre Agassi. It was SO GOOD and I’d highly recommend it, even if you aren’t into tennis. What an eye opening look into his life. In his case, it was very sad, though. He truly seemed miserable in so many ways. It’s a captivating story.
Someone commented wondering if Nathan Chen is happy. I wonder too! I hope he is. I’m sure it’s like anything- there are probably good days and bad days. I’m not an Olympic athlete, and I don’t wake up grinning ear to ear everyday, either. So my guess is that it ebbs and flows for him, too. But I’d like to think that these repeat Olympians (like Phelps, Shaun White, Chloe Kim, Nathan Chen, etc.) must be getting some kind of enjoyment and fulfillment out of this experience. I’m hard pressed to believe that they would keep going for years and years if they were miserable. Who knows, though! I could be wrong.
My big thing when thinking about sports/ high level competition is that I always have this little nagging thought in the back of my mind, which is: “Who cares??” Ha. What I mean is- in the long run, does any of this matter? Does it matter which team of grown men in tights ran a little leather ball down a field, across a painted white line the most times before the clock gets to 0:00?? Does it actually matter that one swimmer touched the wall 0.01 seconds faster than the other guy?
Ivan and I were also talking the other night, and I was saying how when we recently watched the Summer Olympics, the athletes were so stressed/ anxious, freaking out about “their turn” in the spotlight…and now, a few months later, does anyone even remember who won?!? Obviously, they do, but in most cases, the general public kind of just moves on. In the moment it seems like this HUGE deal…but then it’s over and life just goes on.
I can’t even remember who played in the Super Bowl last year, honestly, yet in the moment there were probably fans ready to have legit heart attacks over the game. lol. It sometimes feel like a huge “to do” over…sort of nothing. (I’m sure I’m simplifying this, and if I or a child were in that actual situation, I’m sure I would strongly disagree with what I just said. This is just my perspective though as an outsider.)
Oh! And the other thing I often think about is how these people train literally their whole lives for something that is so, so fragile! Think about figure skating. ONE little trip on the ice, one catch of the toe- and boom. You fall down, game over. Or you could wake up on the day of your event with the stomach flu. Or covid! Or get injured. It seems like it almost depends on sheer luck, in some ways, or for the stars to align just so for that perfect game/performance/ race. I guess maybe that’s what they’re chasing though- that “one moment in time”.
The last thing I often think about (jeez, I didn’t realize I had so many thoughts on this) is “then what?” So let’s keep going with the figure skating example. You train your whole life, sacrifice your childhood, win a bunch of competitions/ skate around the world a little bit…and then…as is usually the case for the vast majority of people, you don’t end up in the top (3? I think?) to go to the Olympics. Eventually you “retire” at like age 22….and then what? Hopefully it was a fun ride. But in reality you probably just go on to get a job, start your life, have a family, whatever, just like everybody else! Maybe if you’re really good you become one of those retired TV announcer people. But at least I guess you can say, “Yeah, I used to be a really good figure skater.” Hmm. I’m not sure that’s worth the sacrifice! 🙂
EEK! Just looked at the clock- I gotta go! Apparently my tangent/ brain dump here took longer than I thought. I need to leave for Ethan’s basketball game! Future NBA player in training!! 🤣🤣🤣🤣 Enjoy your Saturday! (No time to edit this at all or re-format, so, sorry if this post is messy! 🙂