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Olympics or Bust. I Choose Bust.

August 1, 2012

Most of our big dreams tend to fade away as we grow older. As sad as this fact is, it’s not only necessary, but also a good thing as long as we can hold on to one or two of them. The most beautiful thing about children is their ability to believe that anything is possible, because it is. The older you get the more doors you close, of course you open other doors, but the childhood fantasies tend to fade away.

When I was thirteen I quit gymnastics and closed the door on my dream of standing on top of a podium in Athens in 2004 (I would only be 14 in 2000 and they raised the qualifying age after Atlanta). Was I good enough to go to the Olympics? No. Of course not. If I had been I wouldn’t have quit, but I knew that and there remained no more point in trying. I was already 13 and I wasn’t good enough. My competitive nature told me to get out before it got embarrassing. So I quit something that I’d spent the previous ten years devoting my entire life (Five hours a night, five days a week, plus weekend meets and extra workouts some Saturdays) to. I walked out of the gym in tears, but knowing I made the right choice. I re-watched my VHS tapes of the 1996 Atlanta “Magnificent Seven” winning gold and cried. I enrolled in dance classes, tried to make real friends at school, I grew three inches and three cup sizes, and suffered from severe insomnia for a year. I went back to coach toddlers doing somersaults for extra money when I turned 16 and reunited with my former team members on the trampoline one day to discuss how quickly we were able to turn “I used to be a gymnast” from a sad admission of giving up into a surefire way to make a guy think about how flexible we were. I eventually made friends, starting sleeping regularly, and bought a bigger bra.

I don’t remember which dream came first, the one for a gold medal or the one for an Academy Award, but I was always better at telling elaborate, dramatic stories while waiting for my turn on the balance beam and making all of the girls laugh then I was at generating a high score on the apparatus. Image

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