As the Olympic games of Rio 2016 come to a close, I look forward to the coming weeks when the last Grand Slam, the U.S. Open, begins and takes over New York City and my television.
But when watching the Olympics, does anyone also feel like they are wasting away their lives? That I’m sitting on my couch with ice cream watching 17 year old girls do things with their bodies that I didn’t know was possible. Let’s admit it: I cannot walk in a straight line without stumbling. Or maybe you think that if you just hadn’t given up, you would be walking in the opening ceremonies wearing a $900 Ralph Lauren jackets while the entire world watches. That maybe if you had just kept with the sport, you would have spent your summer at beautiful beaches instead of your home. I’m sure some agree and it comforts me to know that I am not alone.
But being at home and watching the Olympics every two years religiously with my family, I realize that the Olympics is more than just sports. It’s more than working an entire lifetime for the spot on the gold medal podium. As Meryl Davis, US 6 time figure skating champion and Olympian, says, “The most important thing in the Olympic games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph , but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.”
And I couldn’t have said it better myself.
When read this, I think back to morning pep talks on tournament days in high school tennis. I would always remember my coach saying, “You can be in last place and your opponent can be winning in straight sets and you can feel like giving up instead of looking humiliated but I don’t care. As long as you finish the entire match, I don’t care about the result. If you win, I don’t care about the score. But if you quit, then I feel like I’m not doing my job. The only thing I care about is you giving your best out there whether you win or not. Take a risk and lose a match but don’t give up. Every match you play is the path on you improving your skills whether that be your mental skill or physical skill. As long as you have played to the best of your ability, I feel like I did my job and delivered the best players on my team.”
Pep talks like this were my favorite because my coach was true to his word. He didn’t care if we lost but would be utterly disappointed if we stopped trying halfway through a match just because we were already losing. I think about his pep talks often when I’m making decisions in my life and fulfilling them.
It does not matter if you finished or not, it matters if you did well. At the French Open in 2015, I was watching final match and was favoring Novak Djokovic. And at that point, everyone was. But Stan Wawrinka took home the title. But no one will forget the amount of effort and strength Djokovic put into his match because some of his winning points were crowd favorites. And everyone will remember that day when he was given the second place trophy along with a standing ovation which led him to tears.
So here we are at the end of the Olympics with the United States taking home the most medals. So I encourage you to work for your medal. Whether that be a diploma or a promotion or just a peaceful life, your spot on the podium is waiting for you. So find your Olympics because the whole world is watching. The whole world is watching you and judging you and you’ve got some people to prove wrong.