I stopped writing on my blog for a long time.
I spent most of the 2014-15 season feeling immensely frustrated. I was working two coaching jobs and a receptionist gig to pay for training and travel with the scheduling flexibility to train as much as I wanted. It didn’t work for me. I spent most of the season sick for weeks at a time, unwilling to take a day off to rest, constantly stressed about my income and my results. When I had left so much to come train in Massachusetts, I felt ashamed even to write a blog post about what I had been up to when I didn’t have results to prove that I made the right choice.
And the results weren’t coming! Another year without breaking a 3-3 record in pools. Another year where every DE I lost was the one I needed to make points. I felt like I had been spending years scaling back my goals in the sport: hopes of someday competing on a world team shrank to making a 32 at a world cup, to competing internationally at all, to just making domestic points, until finally I thought I’ll just earn my A and that will be enough and I will retire. I was too sick and too tired and too miserable to expect fencing to ever give back what I was putting in. On top of that, my personal life was an utter mess: a coaching change that didn’t work out, moving to a new apartment.
So I made grad school a priority so that when I was done fencing, I’d have a life to move on to. I made some very dear friends who don’t give a shit about my results. I took a complete break from the sport for a month between the January and December NACs, and when I came back if I felt even a hint of don’t-wanna I didn’t go to practice. I took a vacation all on my own and started studying French as a non-fencing hobby.
And somehow, just as I was giving up, and even before I began to turn myself around, my fencing started to change. I earned my A at a ROC in New York. Then I made my first points result with a top-64 finish at the December NAC. After my hiatus, I started training at Marx Fencing and I started to feel comfortable and welcome at practice again. Then a big break – a top 16 finish at Div I championships. And I was eligible to compete at my first World Cup in Legnano, Italy, where I won two bouts in pools.
So while everything is still definitely a work in progress, I guess it’s all working out in the end. I learned a lot this year: Two months off isn’t long enough to ruin a career. Skipping practice to maintain your health (or do something fun) isn’t the end of the world. I can fence my best when I know that my results are not what make me worth something, and my real family, fencing or otherwise, loves me no matter where I finish at the next tournament.
And after Legnano, I feel like I’ve seen up close how good it is possible to be. And I believe again that there’s still room for me to get better.
I can’t wait!