For as long as you can remember, tennis has been the thing that makes you who you are. It makes you whole.
It is who you identify as, and has brought you to where you are at this present moment. Before you came to college, you had to put tennis first to give yourself this opportunity.
For your entire career, the addiction and need for competition is what gives you life. The college experience is about the continuation of achieving as an athlete, but it is more importantly about you growing as a person.
College is a place where you not only have the opportunity to work on your game and level of athleticism, but it is about finding who you are.
I would be lying if I said tennis before college allowed me to lead a normal teenage life. Naturally we sacrificed a social life and a normal school life because we put the sport first.
When we didn’t, we felt the consequences on the tennis court. College is the time to live and explore your personality, and to discover what you want to do in life.
Few athletes leave college, compete on the pro circuit, and achieve.
The majority enter a chosen career field and have to adapt without life as a competitive athlete.
A scary but very true prospect.
You know yourself as an athlete. You live for the wins, the losses, the pain, the gratification of overcoming a tough match.
You are the celebrities of the University. You have a skill that few others have, and you pride yourself in the fact you are on the tennis team.
It is very important that while you are experiencing this life, you are preparing for a new one.
As someone sitting here writing this behind three computer screens in a job that tests me on many different levels, I can honestly say I prepared myself to enter this world with my identity as a tennis player taken away.
Adjustment to life as a ‘normal’ human being is not easy. The second you finish that final match in college, you are not a college athlete anymore.
You have to enter the real world and compete with other people that have been preparing for the same specific career field as you, and they will have had more time.
Of course in college you would not be able to succeed as an athlete without sometimes struggling with school or putting it second.
You have not been able to adequately prepare yourself for a specific chosen career field, and you know what? That is ok.
Understand that you are a high achieving and determined person. You would not have got where you are without these traits, and these will be highly respected in the working world.
When college tennis is over, you have to give yourself time to adjust. You have to let yourself find a new identity.
Think about all the abilities and skills you have as a person that will ensure any job you go into, you will be able to succeed, it just may take more time.
You know how to be somewhere on time, you know how to follow instruction, you know how to be a part of a team, you know how to lead, you can persevere through failure, you have learnt to care for others and most importantly, you are competitive and you don’t give up.
So, if you don’t know how you are going to survive without the sport, trust me, you can.
The day I finished my last college tennis match, I left a part of myself on the tennis court that day.
Some days when I am sitting behind my desk I have been at for hours, feeling overwhelmed, tired, frustrated and behind, I remember what got through me tough experiences an athlete.
I remember that I have felt these things before and I got through it once before.
Apply yourself in the field you choose the same way you applied yourself to tennis. Tennis will always be there and you will always be that competitive athlete at heart, but a new chapter in life is not necessarily a bad one.
Journalist and and former Student Athlete Athena Chrysanthou can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.Posted by