Everything changed

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!

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