Athlete life: Expectation vs. Reality

Imagine two paths: one called expectation and another one called reality

At the moment you are cruising along on the path of expectation. The perfectly straight road in between you and your goals, one nice smooth line without hurdles, bumps, roadblocks. It is an newly build highway, fresh tarmac and will get you fast and efficient from A to B, from you to your goals.

As the journey is going well, you get sights on arriving at your final destination. You feel good, keep your eyes on the road and focus on the reward that will come on the end of that road. Well, you made a few sacrifices on the road to not slow down and reach the final destination faster. Such as not stopping for food and gas at the petrol station since you have just enough to keep going and cannot wait to get there after a long, long time on the road. Have a big party of celebrations, relieve that it all worked out the way it should be. Skip the family dinner, after all soon you celebrate together.

A few of your buddies are on the same road and you feel like you are part of a team. That feeling, the mutual support and encouragement is what keeps you going, especially when time gets tough and you feel there is no end. It feels good, doing the same thing and arriving there together.

Progress is going strong, you are finally having fun and find yourself on the top of your game – having that feeling of being unbeatable.  Like there is no stopping you.

Well, until suddenly the navigation voice (we all know her..), which in fact you almost forget existed pops up;  “Calculating new route. Traffic on route. Accept diversion..?”  and yet before you know you take the exit. Which led you down an unpaved, muddy flooding road, with the occasional dead end. Potholes, diversion of hurdles – a big car accident, breaking down – losing a family member, all slowing down your journey and build on your frustration. Every step forward, bit of progress you make feels like reverse as another obstacle is turning up in front of you, sending you straight back down again. You feel like throwing the towel, but you can’t go back at this point. There is not such an option, is it? Or..?

               Someone will have the audacity to tell you; “at least you took the scenic route”. Others will try to make the situation look positive, while you only think about how much you love to be on the fast track and not the touristic route – how frustrating al the twists, ups and downs are on the journey (forced to follow) now.  And you know..? The worst part is that all of your friends are jumping ahead of you, getting closer to their goals – as they cruise along on the newly built road.

And yes, off course they will send you a text to check up on you and tell you they wished you stayed on the same road.  But in reality, they still have the eyes on their own journey and focus on their own goals. There is not anything you can do about your misfortune and so you get left behind………….

They will get to the party before you. Instead of getting jalouse, try not to think about their journeys and how well they managed to do. You should have been happy for them. And yes on the outside you are. On the inside you felt miserable not blending in with their feeling of success, dancing in the glory – be part of the team.

Meanwhile you distract yourself with other things. You stop at places you wouldn`t have time for on the newly build highway.  You spent time enjoying the things you might have missed out on. And actually start enjoying those things and the benefits of  “the scientific route”. You hike up a mountain to an awesome 360 view of the island. You learn a new skill. Treat yourself at the local bakery, were it doesn’t matter how you look like in the dress, which you were going to wear to the party, but never made it.

You will meet a selection of really nice people you wouldn’t have met on the newly build highway. They like you for who you really are, respect you the way you are. Learning a new sport from 0, old sports come back and you even manage to win championships with the freshy new skill. Sharing stories help you realise the fast way is not always the best – a longer more frustrating road makes you stronger.  “If you can handle this, you can handle anything”;  they tell you with a smile!

After all, it is not really that bad at all, or..??


The positive thinking doesn`t last long and as you dig yourself a hole, telling all friends and family that the journey is going fine you got more away from your goals: in fact you are clearly very lost. The treats of the special bakery had lost its value and you start to despise them. The new sport is losing his glory – here you end up on a side path too, with no – win, unfair totally misjudge dnf`s… As your friends arrived in  the destination send you pictures, make posts on social media and write the wishes that they would love to have you there. Sure…you know better.

And then it happens; The incredible view starts to lose its value, it is getting winter, the place looks miserable, the hike isn`t the same anymore and you feel lonely. The new sport is not satisfying anymore you get frustrated – in the end it is not where you worked so hard for. No matter how lovely the new people you met are, it doesn’t feel the same; you start wishing you were with the team. They just don’t understand your desire to reach that goal and how difficult not getting there is for you. But hey how would they know..?  Seems like your car is rusty, your tyres are deflating and .. all is starting to squeak. That this thing is the machine you spend years on, engineering, testing, firing it up to be at the top best when the journey came.  It is starting to break down earlier than expected, due to diversion. The machine now is a showcase of disaster. The machine you was once proud of is letting you down. All shining confidence is gone… the once loved machine is making you feel ashamed now…  and will not even start without charging the battery..

It feels like you keep going backwards, whatever you do is not enough.  And no matter how positive person you are, this is not an enjoyable situation to be in. We all have our limits. But do remember that the fast-track motorway to success is impossible. And your friends, were just lucky they had less bigger speedbumps (-and didn`t got into a car accident on the way). Everyone has its ups and downs and no one experiences success easily -trust me.

It is the moment you are alone, on the rainy, muddy backroad, experiencing the barriers that it appears that everyone is going on that fast straightforward road. But I can tell you now, they are really not. Everyone has their own struggles, limits, so support your friends no matter where they are. Remember to speak out loudly if things are getting too much and you don’t feel right.

Please don’t give up, keep going and you will get there! Sometimes your car is not acting the way you want it too, learn to love it and realise that every car breaks down at times.  Every car needs maintenance, some attention now and then. Every car has its own strengths and weaknesses, preferred conditions, learns different.  Use time wise and try to understand the weaknesses and strengths use it to grow, evolve and learn.  Certainly don’t dwell on the fact you’re not where you meant to be, there is a time a place.. and your time will come – be patient! Even tough it will be different than you imagine sometimes…

Enjoy the unexpected scientific road, learn to trust the process, be teachable:  Tough times don’t last, tough people do. 

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