As any teacher or coach who gives a damn will tell you, the relationships and connections you make with the kids you work with on a regular basis are special. They mean something to you. You see these kids on a regular basis. You teach them, mentor them, laugh with them (occasionally at them), and scold them when necessary. You watch them grow. And like it or not, you influence them and they influence you.
This August and September marks the first time any of the athletes I’ve worked with intimately over the past 3 years will head off to college. As I sit back and reflect on the conversations I’ve had with these individuals over the past couple months, I can’t help but be reminded how hard it is to make that transition from high school to college. Change in general is hard, but this will be the first time these kids have lived away from home, have had to make a whole new group of friends, maybe even had to do laundry for the first time!
What makes this change, this transition, so hard for a lot of these kids is they feel like they are going at it on their own. And even as adults we tend to view ourselves as “special snowflakes” with our own set of problems we feel are unique to us.
This becomes an issue though, because if a problem is perceived as new and unique to you, finding a solution seems way less likely. For some, almost debilitating.
So, new college kids (or anyone who feels their problems are brand new and unique to the world) let me be the one to tell you, your problems are not new.
You’re not the first person to move hundreds or thousands of miles away from home.
You’re not the first person to double major.
You’re not the first person to not know what they want to do with their life.
You’re not the first person to feel home sick.
You’re not the first person to start a business.
You’re not the first person [insert whatever here].
Hopefully this doesn’t come across as me sounding like a dick. I’m saying this in the hopes you’ll recognize the things you are afraid of and feel better knowing you have more control than you think.
As a personal example, after a string of recent events occurred that definitely took me out of my comfort zone, I sat down and wrote a list of things I was afraid of.
Here’s the list in case you can’t read the text in the picture:
- I’m afraid I won’t be a success
- I’m afraid I won’t be taken seriously
- I’m afraid of being “average”
- I’m afraid of losing my parents
- I’m afraid of losing my health
- I’m afraid I won’t leave my mark on the world
- I’m afraid what I have to say won’t resonate with people
- I’m afraid my work won’t be good enough
- I’m afraid my knee will keep me from being as active as I want to be
- I’m afraid to let people know I’m vulnerable
- I’m afraid the expectations I set for myself are too high
- I’m afraid the expectations I set for myself aren’t high enough
- I’m afraid I’m taking on too much
- I’m afraid I’m not doing enough
I’m not going to lie, getting this down on paper immediately made me feel better.
I was easily able to tell which things I’m afraid of that are completely ambiguous. I’m afraid I won’t be a success? What does that even mean? How do you even quantify that?
I was able to identify the things out of my control. I’m afraid of losing my parents? This may be true, but there’s nothing I can do about that except make sure I make the time I spend with them worthwhile. [Unless I invent some sort of miracle drug that keeps them alive forever].
And I was able to identify the things I can control. I’m afraid of losing my health? This is completely within my control.
Most importantly though, I know these fears aren’t unique to me. How? They’re all concerns that have been raised by friends or family members at some point along the way. And if they’re aren’t unique to me, not only does it mean I’m not alone, but it means that I’ll be able to find ways to successfully deal with all my fears.
[Also, I borrowed the idea of writing down the things I’m afraid of from a picture Childish Gambino posted on Instagram]
So, the point of all this is to hopefully give my CFDR Sports Performance athletes some perspective on any fears or apprehensions they have moving forward with their lives. Trust me, you’re not alone and you’ll definitely be able to deal with anything that’s thrown at you.
*Final little note: growth occurs when you push yourself outside your comfort zone. This goes for spiritual growth, mental growth, or physical growth. Don’t avoid that uncomfortable feeling you get when new and different things come up. Embrace it. You’ll be glad you did.