In 2011, I started my professional career with a contract deal that surely wasn't the best, but was something that could make anyone say "dreams come true". That was immediately followed by an array of legal accusations that quickly dissolved every cent the contracts had to offer, as well as my image I supposedly worked hard to put out for myself. I was quickly labeled as a criminal without any reproach. I had acquaintances who adored me, quickly turn into random bodies, as they walked right by me as if I were a ghost. I felt I disappointed the whole world.
At the time, I was fairly into God, but not as deep as we all want or think we want to be, so this was a very trying period. I'm quite introverted in nature, and this was a moment that certainly pressed that characteristic. I essentially vanished from the face of the earth, logging off social media, not responding to calls/texts, just in my own world. The media labeled me a monster, and I thought I was such, so I hid like Quasimodo in the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
It became even more easy to hide as a condition I had, suddenly worsened. I was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus my first year in college, while I was at the University of Arkansas. At the time, it was minuscule, not worthy of much attention, but it rose out of its ashes and quickly consumed me, putting me in the hospital on a daily basis.
I still practiced and competed, first grabbing a bronze medal at the Pan American Games, then qualifying for 2012 Olympic Games. It seemed like running was all I had, so that is why I went against doctor's "recommendations" and continued on. I never told anyone of my condition, because it seemed like everyone was judging me off the legal situations. I just still wanted to be invisible, proving so by coaching myself, and doing workouts late night with my brother in the snow at times.
However, it was impossible to be invisible. For some reason, it was a miracle I would even walk, nonetheless, run. The condition generally paralyzes patients, compromising motor functions. I was a Neurophysiology major, so I knew all about it. It always had me wonder how someone with such condition could be ranked top 10 in the United States. I wondered about it, because I wonder what God was up to.
So here I am now, continuing the journey towards the next Olympic Games in 2016. Still, without a contract, but now with a coaching staff! "Why didn't you just give up running and get a real job or finish Law School," is a question I am often asked. I do not know why I am still running, but I do know the little signs I do get, are enough to trust that God's got me, and knows exactly what He's doing. It is not about me and my life, but about the many I may inspire. It sucks to still work part time jobs and be considered one of the top sprinters in the world, but I know the process I am going through is giving me characteristics I could have never gained if it would have happened any other way. The end result WILL be great, something I know. I am a better person because of it, constantly growing as the minutes go by.
"The way you know God is speaking to you, is simply through experience."
Jeremy Dodson is an Olympic Track & Field sprinter with a Master's in Business Administration, and Bachelor's in Sociology, Economics, and Neurophysiology.