As a girl, nothing motivated my decisions more than the thrill of adventure. From building forts to writing in spy diaries, I was always curious what other types of lives would be like–a secret agent, a dolphin trainer, a professional ninja. I grew up seeing world artifacts on our walls, mostly from my dad’s travels for shooting matches, and since then the possibility of traveling and experiencing the lives of people around the world obsessed me.
I often wish I had three lives: one for shooting, one for exploring and living in other countries, and another for staying in one place in the U.S., with my loved ones nearby. Now that I’m living a life I only dreamed of when I was little, I realize the sacrifice of everything else. I’m not talking about delaying a career or education, the constant search for sponsors, or even the possibility of a steady paycheck. Anyone who is elite at anything has also likely given that up at some point.
I imagine most elite athletes have also gone through this stage–the Fragmented Stage. I think it’s just a transition state, and who knows when I’ll be on to the next one. But I’ve begun to realize how traveling is a double-edged sword. Going to another country is something new, fresh, and full of things to learn. But after a week or two of constant travel, the longing for home that was in the back of my head becomes much more prominent. Eventually I return home, then after several weeks, I itch to travel again.
But it’s not just the travel itself. Living at a training center surrounded with all kinds of athletes has its disadvantages as well. I may travel a lot, but they do too, if not more. Sometimes I return and none of my close friends are there. I’ll meet someone and have several truly amazing conversations with them, only to realize they are about to leave for the beginning of their season, which means no time to spare for staying in contact. In-depth relationships with people are difficult to maintain here.
On my last trip to Germany, I went on a run in some local gardens. I ran down a half-mile lane with trees evenly lining it, so that the area at the end of the lane, where the trees ended and the light was shining through, was the center of my perspective. But I realized that if I only focused on that, I would miss an awful lot of beauty I was passing–the grass, the birds, the leaves. It’s the same with this traveling business–if you generally know where you’re headed, it’s better to not focus on the future. There are simply too many amazing people and great things happening, no matter how disjointed it all feels.
The struggle is to always remain in the present. I hate being in one place while wishing I were somewhere else. I like to enjoy where I am, and to milk it for all it’s worth. So now, I strive to remain content living out a life I dreamed about as a child, despite the times of disconnect that I feel. Even though shooting is what caused this struggle in the first place, it is also the glue that holds it together. The challenge, the team, the pursuit, the satisfaction–even the dissatisfaction. This life would be impossible to pursue if I didn’t believe that I belong here and that it’s well worth temporarily living a fragmented life. I don’t doubt either of these, so I continue, having the freedom to live a life I wouldn’t choose over any other.