Links to "A Year in Review" Part 1 or Part 2.
The rise, the peak, and the fall. A year in review.
Winning is everything. Second, ninth, one hundredth, they're all the same. Outside of your close knit friends and yourself, you can have mini milestones, personal records, breakthrough performances, disappointments, and failures that your ride or dies will take notice. But toe the line as the winner, everything changes.
The National Championship post-race party
To say I never had success, is a bit of a misnomer. I still ran decent in my years of "Failure" but my years of struggle consisted of running well below my expectations. It's like living in one of those dreams where you're running away from a monster but can't run as fast as what you know you can. I couldn't ever explain this gripe to my peers but it always felt like I was trapped in a body that could do so much more but had to settle for less. I had to fake my appreciation for the results I was given. Maybe this was ungrateful of me but it was a constant mental battle when I was aiming for so much more. The national championship and the races leading up to it, were validation that I wasn't crazy. I knew I was capable of more and I was finally able to prove it. I wanted to shout to the world, "SEE, I TOLD YOU SO!"
In the months following my breakout performance, I crushed every PR ranging from the 3k on up to the 10k. I was on cloud nine and doors were opening up left and right. Agents, sponsors, podcasts, social media followers, race directors, and friends I didn't know I had reached out to be a part of the story. Going from a nobody to a somebody overnight (Who the Hell is Brogan Austin).
A fantasy that most of us dream of but not everyone sticks around long enough to see it through. The small town kid who goes against all odds to throw the last second touchdown, make the last chance three pointer, the kid who, without question, has done the right thing to win overwhelming validation from your community.
Post Race Hangover
What's the first thing you'd do with this newfound platform? Take the all the money deals you can find? Befriend as many people you can? Level up your contacts? It's pretty rare that we're confronted with such clear cut Ys in the road, let alone a multitude coming all at the same time.
I had every option you could think of to further elevate my success but all I could do was crawl into a hole. I know, I know, this is the last thing I should be doing but I was on the cusp of trampling everyone who got me to where I was. I had already labeled myself a traitor and was bed ridden mourning the relationships I was about to forgo.
Opportunities only come knocking once every blue moon, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade; I'm sure you've heard these over simplistic lines. It's pretty obvious to take the paths that further bolster our story but each of these catch phrases should come with an asterisk noting there may be some downstream repercussions. I had the power to elevate myself but ultimately backed out of everything to keep my community and eliminate the possibility of tainting my relationship with running.
Puuuuke… This guy is an idiot.
Do I wish I had a glimpse into what could have been? For sure. Would I have been better off going all in on myself? Potentially. Am I a ding dong? Absolutely.
Maybe my algorithm is a little off and I don't know how to make proper decisions but I can tell you when I ultimately decided to back away from everything, it was the most at peace I've been in awhile. I could probably try to explain my rationale a 1,000 different ways and you may still not get it. Please don't hate me but here's how I came to my conclusion.
Hear Me Out
For better or worse, I think we're all born with an innate hero complex. Where we comprehend our life as the center of the story and everyone else is playing the supporting role. Where people should be there for us during the tough times, celebrate our victories, and support our quests. Maybe that's a selfish outlook on life but we're all designed this way to survive. Unfortunately, more often than not, most of the people we run into are too busy writing their own story (Good for them! Knock out those goals!) but sometimes we run into folks willing to go to bat for you. Assuming you're not a self-absorbed dictator, you lean in and play the supporting role for them as well. We call these folks, friends.
During my athletic career, I've had many highs and lows that have amplified and diminished my social network in parallel. Through the many painful iterations of seeing my friend groups grow and dissipate, I've been fortunate enough to find out who the really special people are in my life. Oh boo hoo, Brogan. Maybe you've gone through some of these push pull friends? I had a great agent, sponsor (rabbit), and the best running support network in Des Moines. They supported me through my lows and I was going to carry them through my highs.
When I was at my lowest point, a couple days before all of my contract decisions were due, I had a former coach reach out and give me the most influential advice going forward. During his professional sprinting days he and his teammates became enslaved to contracts. They sold their souls to meet performance bonuses and forced fitness to meet contract deadlines, which ultimately sucked the fun out of running. Most of his teammates lost their passion for running and in the end stunted their professional careers.
As many heartaches running has caused in my life, it's been the foundation for my happiness. Running in its simplest form is a getaway for millions of people to alleviate stress, make us healthy, and get us up in the morning. I had a stable job and balance in my life that I never had before that brought me to this success in the first place. I didn't want to ruin my relationship with running by signing a contract. I decided to keep the thing I love the thing I love and not the job that I have to get out the door to prove my worth. Maybe it's an ignorant decision but it's a decision I don't think I'll regret.
While it's a morbid thought, I often make decisions based on how I'd feel about them on my death bed. What story would I like to tell at the end of it all? What are the things that really mean something to me? What would I be most proud of? I think this is the story I want to create.
Life novice exploring how to navigate the world. Let's discover together!