Transitions: Thoughts on graduating and the future

In navigating life, there is no manual.

You can read all the self-help books, pick the brains of those around you, and follow suit of those you admire when things get tough. These tools are incredibly helpful, and are not to be taken away from, but when it comes down to it, everyone is so unique that to experience that it just comes down to living life in choice, and adjusting as you go.

What I mean by this can be described through my own experience. I finished my eligibility to run with the Vikes, my undergrad came to a close (although my convocation is coming up this month), and all at once things that I knew to be consistent and stable began to change.

I had heard how difficult it was to graduate and move into the next phase of life, but it still didn’t prepare me for how I’d feel in the moment. My close friends here in Victoria were struggling too, just in their own unique scenarios.

Photo credit: Justin Britton

We are so privileged in our lives and I am nothing but grateful for the experiences I’ve had in my time at UVic and have continued to have through the summer. The challenge that came up after grad was issues of identity.

I’ve always worked on detaching my self worth from my identity as a runner. It was easy to say while I was running, both in the highs and lows of the sport. If I had a bad race, I learned how to not determine my self worth based on the numbers on the results page.

Photo credit: Armando Tura

This philosophy became much harder as I had to face the option of Rachel without running entirely, or at least losing that label of “being a runner who was aiming for the Olympic games”.

I spent the summer navigating who I am without that routine, without that goal in my mind, and I was met with a lot more anxiety, depression, and a feeling of loss. I had a ton of fun, but in the down times I was going through questions of what I wanted to do, the reason I wanted to go back to the sport. (Was it for me? Did I only love running with the support of my collegiate team? Is it worth dedicating my life to this goal of making a team that is so lofty and based on a mix of hard work and circumstance?)

These questions are what circled my mind every day. Through these anxieties, I was able to dive into things I loved outside of running: being active (through other things I am passionate about such as cycling, hiking, and yoga), hanging out with the people I love, and working on my employable skills.

I wrote the above part at the end of summer. Feeling my heart bursting with love after unlimited time with my loved ones in that I had the chance to spend more time than I usually get in the summer. I feel confident in the growth of my employable skills. I have a great job. My next step was to figure out my plan for the fall: what to do?

Since then, I have been getting back into training, creating a plan to make my experience authentic, passionate, and goal driven.

The other day, I had the privilege of watching the UVic Men’s Rowing Team complete a V02 test. The sweat fest of grit and elevation made me giddy. I was so excited to get back into that fitness and I had a feeling in my gut that now is the time to come back. I am ready to get back to be the best runner that I can be.

There is a lot more to my experience this summer, but my hope is by being more open about the anxieties, the scary vulnerability that post collegiate athletes and students feel, and about mental health and how much it truly affects the day to day, that people in turn are more open to conversation about something that affects so many people.

Snapchat by Sam Murphy from this past weekends Fast and Female Champ Chat. Gave some much needed perspective on the empowering nature of sport, and the importance of good role models.

Leave some comments – message me – call me – share your story! Let’s prepare people more for these anxious times.

What I’ve found, as hard and emotional as these times are, they are so beautiful and have offered unlimited growth for myself and the people around me. Don’t be afraid to feel low, don’t be afraid to get after what your gut is telling to do, live life in choice and whatever you decide to do – do it well and with passion and love. If it doesn’t work out, you have learned something about yourself and you just have to keep moving forward in choice.

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