Take It From Here
I’ve been thinking.
And also trying not to.
And failing pretty miserably at the latter.
As most of you are aware by now I have an interesting, periodically tragic, often triumphant, and altogether exhausting life story…
Several people have asked why I decided to share what I did in my Instagram post after the IAAF World Championship long jump final.
Here’s the answer: I shared it because people didn’t know what to say to me.
People were approaching me and starting their conversations like this:
“I know this isn’t what you wanted but congrats on your medal anyway…”
I understood though...
Because of the type of competitor that I am, under normal circumstances they wouldn’t have been wrong about me being pissed at myself or disappointed with bronze.
But these weren’t normal circumstances. Very few people were aware of said “circumstances” at the time- because I am a professional athlete.
I try my best not to bring private issues to my workplace.
But after a day of the countless “I know this isn’t what you wanted…” conversations I decided I could and would share it, because there was no other way that any of you would understand why an athlete who has only been talking about gold medals, only has gold long jump medals, and who just LOST her world title could possibly be OKAY with a bronze.
So I told you.
And then headlines began to appear about my “homelessness...”
And then I got a call from a guy from Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO where I explained how I said that I didn’t "have an actual address" in my BBC interview, but that I wasn’t exactly homeless either. I explained that meet directors put us up in hotels, that I use Airbnb, I had access to an apartment in the states, my coach offered to help and he lets me use his garage like a climate-controlled storage facility.
Needless to say, I wasn’t the perfect fit for the story they were looking to tell but that conversation did remind me of something I’d run across in school a million years ago:
Ok crash course. Buckle up…
Abraham Maslow developed this triangle as a visual representation of his Hierarchy of Needs theory (which I 100% believe in by the way). The most important needs are at the bottom of the pyramid. Once those needs are met the idea is that you move up to the next level in the pyramid, progressing until you ultimately reach humanity's end goal: self-actualization.
I personally think this can be applied specifically and relevantly to high performance, and the needs that must be adequately met before consistent high performances can become a realistic expectation.
Anyway, so back to what I was saying…
Here I am late in 2017 with almost everything that I’ve grown accustomed to now either gone completely, or turned on its head, and a future that is incredibly unknown.
With tons of questions that have no immediate answers like...
Will I get resigned to a new endorsement contract in December? Don’t know.
Will I have a steady income at all next year if I don’t? Don’t know.
Is this divorce going to be messy, petty, drawn out, and/or expensive? Don’t know.
But here’s what I do know.
I know that my physiological needs will be met.
I know that I will always feel and be safe from now on.
I know that there are people both near and far that love me in a way that I deserve to be.
I know that my self-esteem and confidence are a work in progress but are improving.
I know that my “Why You’re Not a Track Star” Project is important to me and making that (and its spin off programs) a successful resource for upcoming athletes would be incredibly fulfilling to me.
Since 2012, I’ve won seven global medals. Four of which were Gold with huge chunks of my “pyramid of needs” blown to bits.
So here are the questions that have baffled me as of late...
The ones that have been keeping me up at night...
How was that level of success even possible?!?!
What does this mean?!?!?!
What are the implications for the future?!?!?
With an irony not lost on me at all, I’ve been asking myself the same question my husband asked me on one of our very first dates:
How good could you really be?
If you didn’t have…
All that shit…
and all those worries…?
My response now is almost the same as it was then:
We’re about to find out.
Only this time…
I’ll take it from here.