when i was three i started figure skating. i skated my ass off after school, before school, DURING school until i was about 13. ten years of trying to be elizabeth manley (an obscure canadian skating reference – congrats to all those who got it) , to be good, to be noticed. one thing i always prided myself on, and my parents encouraged, was that i never cried if i failed a test, lost a competition, fell down. what i remember, and perhaps this is selective memory, is always being encouraged by others with kind words and other forms of wood and plastic trophy-like praise. i was my harshest critic. i was the one that berated me for not doing my figure-eights perfectly, for not landing a jump, for falling in the annual skating show. i wanted skating to be fun and i knew when i was young i was good at it. i wasn’t allowed to “just” do the fun parts, like making up routines and dancing with the partner i received to compete with as a result of being picked from the ice-rink stands as his perfect skating companion. no. i had to do it all. i had to go through the levels as quickly and as precisely as one can at such a young age with no real thoughts of where these circles were leading. when i was 12 or 13ish (my memory already fails me), i quit. just like that. such a big part of my life, gone. i had had to make the decision whether to pursue it as a future and begin lessons with another former olympian or hang out with my friends. be a kid. have fun. maybe i exaggerate. i don’t know what would have become of my skating. surely not the olympics or anything close. but perhaps something. but i’ll never know. and i’m okay with that. most of the time. but my skating past reminds me of my present. my striving toward a goal. only this time, i know what it means. i know it means a future. a job. (part of) my life. and i’ve come to wonder why we, to borrow a beautiful phrase from a loved one, wear our goals, our lives, our work like a burden. why we, when we have everything feel like we have nothing. not enough. like we need more. why we feel less encouraged. under-appreciated. criticized. especially without out wood and plastic reminders of our successes. our achievements. our lives. these days i try not to see things as either/ors. i try to remember that i do everything because it suits me. because it is me. and i am doing everything i’ve always wanted. and wearing it like a burden can only amount to crying over skating.

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