“We never lose our demons, we only learn to live above them.”
On the final day of my 30th year of life, I found no feelings of success and relief, but instead of shame for the fact that I am not where I thought I would be. I’m not too sure where I thought I’d be, but there’s a feeling of failure that resonated deep within me at the beginning of the month. I find myself in a constant battle with these so-called demons that I allowed to overcome me.
For a self-proclaimed “perfectionist”, those who allow demons to haunt them are typically those who are too weak to fight them off, or so I believed. So, I fought against these demons as best I could, putting on a mask of “success” and chasing endeavors that appeared to resemble a successful person.
The 2017-18 track season was not what I had hoped for. I planned it to be a year of redemption, a year of reclaiming my presence in the track & field world, a year to get back to where I used to be. The goal was to make my way to the Commonwealth Games, run what I know I could run, regain sponsorships, and use that momentum for next season’s World Championship, and eventually towards the 2020 Olympic Games. That goal/plan was destroyed before it ever began.
I had a solid indoor season, but with Commonwealth so early in my normal season, I had to accelerate my preparation and be ready to somewhat peak by April, where I typically start my outdoor season. For an athlete to skip through a chunk of the preparation process and go straight to high performance puts a high demand on the body. Either it will keep up or fall back; my body did the latter.
I’ve never experienced an injury during a race, so I was unsure of what to do. With the type of injury that occurred, doctors were amazed and skeptical at the severity. The pain dissolved within a week, so I believed I was ready to get back to racing and redeem what was left of the season. I forced my rehab, I forced training, then forced a racing schedule, but I couldn’t force the results I wanted. The season was destroyed before it ever began.
For a person reaching the peak in age for an elite sprinter, watching a new wave of young athletes appear and dominate the scene was uneasy. Thoughts of retirement never came about, but thoughts of not being in the right place began to simmer. I began to think I was wasting my time, and that it was too late to do anything in life, even begin a new career. The demons were appearing with no plans of leaving.
I wasn’t okay. I had family, friends, young athletes that looked to me for guidance or support, but how could I give support if I could barely support myself? My value depreciated, and not from their perspective, but within my own.
We’re not as good at pretending as we may think we are.
We are all faced with demons, whether they are past mistakes, fears, or even things we’ve experienced. We can try to run from them, but apparently the faster you move away, the faster they come back.
I’ve realized that the idea of “letting go” suggests that these demons are separate from our lives. The idea suggests that we are to erase the broken pieces that lie within us, when in fact, these demons are part of what makes us. For us to leave behind the broken pieces would be to remove the chapters of conflict and eventual climax from the book which defines your journey of growth. To rip away the pages of conflict would be to erase the resolution that comes as a result.
If you fail to recognize and investigate who you really are, you will discount your self and worth. Life is meant to refine you, like the process of a diamond formation. We all know the process, blah blah blah a rock goes through tremendous pressure and after enduring for some time, comes out a diamond, blah blah blah. But what we often overlook is that the diamond is still a rock, just valued more because of the chapter of conflict it had to endure.
Who knows what the next 30 years of life brings me. Nonetheless, if conflict brings a climactic resolution, then the highpoint is soon to come for this chapter. Fingers crossed it comes for 2020 because I am not stopping this path. Though it may seem financially irresponsible, logically irrational, pridefully senseless, it is the one thing I do know that is spiritually driven, and that is enough for me.
“Angels and demons were identical – interchangeable archetypes – all a matter of polarity. The guardian angel who conquered your enemy in battle was perceived by your enemy as a demon destroyer.”
Jeremy Dodson is a Track & Field Olympian who struggles with the idea of perfection, hoping to break the barrier we place on ourselves so that genuine living can take place for everyone.