When I was in the middle of kayaking and at the peak of training and racing, I didn’t really consider myself to be very good. When you’re surrounded by people that get selected for international races on a regular basis, it’s hard to get perspective on your own achievements. This post is to remind myself and you to be proud.
Sometimes we can get consumed by our ultimate goal. Our small achievements along the way don’t mean much to us any more. If in the end we don’t end up fulfilling this dream, we consider ourselves a failure. This post is about celebrating the baby steps we make towards our goal, regardless of the outcome.
To me success was medalling at the World and European championships. Several of my friends accomplished this and I was hugely proud and happy for them. I was also in awe, because these were the girls I trained with on a regular basis and if they could do it, then so could I. It also meant that I considered my own achievements at national level rather insignificant.
My dad used to love telling relatives and friends about my kayaking. I remember feeling hugely embarrassed when he introduced me as an athlete and a champion kayaker. I said he could only call me that once I won a medal at the Wolds. So basically, I found my achievements inadequate around other kayakers, and embarrassing around everyone else.
Why do we do this to ourselves? I had six national championship medals, and an even bigger list of reasons they didn’t mean much to me. Talking about kayaking with my friends outside sport was a no go. I was terrified of bragging, and I didn’t want to set myself apart from anyone.
We hear about the success stories on a daily basis. The rich and famous are on Youtube. Olympic champions are on television. We read the biography of the successful person, not someone who almost made it. In reality, extremely few people reach fame and recognition of this level.
I realised last year I was no longer kayaking for me. My goal was no longer to be the best kayaker I could be. I felt ignored, and I wanted recognition from the kayaking world for what I had put into the sport for over a decade. When I reaslied how much pressure I was putting on myself for this different goal, I knew I needed to take a break.
Celebrate the baby steps
So I didn’t make the Worlds. Big deal. I still have my national medals, and the day I beat that one guy I always came second to. I still have the friends I made through kayaking, the memories of trips abroad, and the experience of paddling in the snow, laughing my head off at the situation.
Be proud of what you have achieved. You may not reach your ultimate goal, but I bet you learnt something in the process of trying to get there. And you should be proud of that.
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