When I was in high school, I fell in love with wrestling. I joined the team my sophomore year and carried it until graduation.
I loved it, but I wasn’t that good.
I never won any tournaments. Never even made it to the district tournament, much less state. The highest I ever got on the podium was third place.
After my junior year, the coach took a head coaching job at a division III school, which was also his alma mater. He had taken a liking to me and the energy that I brought in the wrestling room, so when I got accepted to the university, he offered me a spot on the college team, which I accepted with enthusiasm.
I went into my freshman year of college, having not worked out in 6 months (this was before I started lifting on my own… in my mind, working out was still something that coaches made you do until you threw up). My last real workout had been the last day of wrestling practice senior year.
I showed up to college at a skinny 160 pounds, with some muscle that I had gained from hard labor, but no real size.
I quickly realized that college wrestling was a LOT different than high school. They were practicing for 4 hours a day… BEFORE the season even started. The guys in my weight class were all BUILT. They looked like tanks (the starter went on to win a national championship that year).
I was tired. I didn’t want to compete. I wanted to just fall into an open weight class that had no other guys, no competition, like I had done all through high school.
That wasn’t happening.
So, I quit the sport I loved.
At first, there was a weight removed from my shoulders, but it didn’t last long. I had to tell my roommate and my best friend, who were both still on the team. I had to walk around campus and see guys on the team, seeing in their eyes that they knew what I was.
I had to run into the coach, who I loved, while walking to class.
I was a coward.
Quitting wrestling is still one of my biggest regrets. I have been chasing the feeling ever since, trying to fill the hole. I have thrown myself into lifting, working, fighting, and entrepreneurship, but all these things only filled up a part of the hole left by leaving wrestling.
I feel as though I need to excel in one area, so that I can feel the same as I did when I was a mediocre wrestler. That is the only way to feel the same as I did when I made weight, won a match, and helped my team to a championship.
(That is also one of the reasons that my personality is so extreme now. I know that I have to be all the way in, or all the way out. I will not achieve my desired results without that.)
– – –
The reasons I’m writing about this are two-fold:
- I’ve never really expressed this before. Three years later, this is the first time I’ve ever written, or even said, these things.
- I think that someone out there can learn from my mistakes.
My first piece of advice is to find the thing that you love. Try everything. If you think “hey that’d be pretty cool” DO IT. Sign up for that class. Go to that gym. Make something happen in the real world, try things out, and you’ll eventually find your passion.
Second, understand what it takes to pursue your passion. You may have to compete, build, or create. Understand that there is always some barrier to entry, some price to pay, to pursue your passion. You may have to pay financially, mentally, or physically, but you will have to pay.
I say this not as a bad thing. Learn to love the sacrifice. If your thing is fighting, learn to love getting choked out, because it teaches you how NOT to get choked.
Finally, hold onto this thing for as long as you possibly can. I’ll always be wondering “what if I hadn’t quit?” Don’t be that guy. When you find something you love, don’t let anyone, yourself included, convince you that you don’t need it.
Don’t do what I did.
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