I am in a bit of a slump, both mentally and physically. Of course, the mental aspect is caused by the physical aspect and so if I could fix what I am doing, I would immediately feel better. Easier said than done, right?! But nevertheless, it can be done.
On a scale of 1-10 this past month in Europe has been about a 2 for me. I’ve have competed in a total of 5 meets and 3 of those meets have been Diamond League meetings. In 2 out of the 3 I have completely bombed. There is significance in this trend. To call it just the normal ebb and flow of what every athlete experiences in their sport might not be a true reflection. I believe in ups and downs. I believe that every great athlete—from Michael Jordan, to Serena Williams, to Tiger Woods, to Jerry Rice, to Jackie Joyner Kersee, —experiences times when they don’t live up to their own expectation and when things just don’t seem to go in the right direction no matter how hard they try. It’s simply not possible for an athlete-- a normal human being-- to not have an off day.
So why do I not accept that this is just a normal slump for me? Well, it occurred to me hours after my meet in Stockholm as I sat in my room and stared at the blank wall that I was doing it to myself all over again. If it had been just one big meet that had gone bad I could possibly write it off as just an off day. But I had felt good and competed badly--twice. And unfortunately I just don’t think it was a coincidence.
I like to believe that I’m strong-minded and have an unbreakable competitive spirit. But sometimes there are cracks. It happens when I start to look at the big picture. When I can be in the moment and just worry about one single jump, I’m good. But there are times when I make it more than that. I don’t want how far I jump in the sand today to determine how long I will be able to pay my rent. But in the back of my mind I know that it does. That pressure can sometimes cripple me because I know that in my personal situation, I have a small window to perform well enough to be able to do this for another year. And when that window begins to close in on me, I start to panic and try to make it happen instead of letting it happen.
This is my Achilles heel. You can tell me not to worry and stress about things and that’s all well and good. I agree with you. You can also tell me not to think about the pink elephant. It’s sometimes just harder than it seems. These opportunities are amazing and I want to make the most of them. I want to be present and in the moment and competing to the best of my ability. I just need to relax. Focus. Regroup. The rent will get paid…somehow it always does.