Sports Are Meant to be Fun: Confessions of a Burnt-Out Athlete Turned Counsellor
Now that I have began a career in mental health, I often wish I had the opportunity to reverse time and provide myself helpful advice as a young athlete. Growing up in a small farming community, my athletic ability stood out. I was quickly categorized as an athlete, and I was quite proud to carry that label. My parents were supportive, I continued to excel, and I was convinced that the NHL was a real possibility for me. As I progressed through elite hockey, and eventually the Saskatoon Blades, I began to realize that my skills no longer stood out, self-doubts began making a strong presence in my life. I would often think, what if I am not good enough to make the NHL? This brought on overwhelming feelings of failure, inadequacy, and a loss of self. I felt that I had not only let myself down, but also my family who had sacrificed countless years and dollars to support my dreams. This loss of self led me downof substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and resentment towards myself. If I was no longer an athlete, who was I? Everyone appeared to be progressing passed me in life, I felt left behind and like I had spent the first 19 years of my life working towards nothing.
So, what have I learned? What would I do differently as a young athlete dealing with similar concerns? To start, we must remind ourselves that we only have so much individual control in life, and arguably less when involved in competitive sports. At a certain level, many of the decisions are made for us by our coaches, trainers, and billets, therefore the only genuine control we have is over our work ethic, attitude, and mindset. Instead of consistently worrying about the future, or decisions beyond my control, I would have taken time to better learn how to remain present and grateful for the experiences and accomplishments I had been involved in. I would work to not only better myself as a player, but more so as a person. Instead of creating large impracticable goals, I would have created more achievable, realistic, and sustainable goals for myself. Being able to consistently set and accomplish smaller goals allows us to feel motivation to continue progressing in the right direction. I would compare myself less to teammates, and instead of seeing teammates as competition, I would have taken more time to get to know them as people. Most importantly, I would try not to take my sport, nor the decisions made within, personally. At a certain level, money and scholarships become involved and decisions are not always reflective of the effort we put in. Staff may begin to make decisions in the best interests for their careers and you may not be apart of that plan. You may start to feel as though you are simply a number, rather than a human with feelings or emotions.
Through my work, I challenge young athletes, despite their skill, to explore other forms of exercise, sports, and activities that may bring contentment. I suggest you to ask yourself what you enjoy or excel at outside of competition, and how you may be able to apply that to your life moving forward. All in all, I encourage young athletes to focus on the many positive emotions, friendships, and life lessons that their sports provide them and remind yourself why you started the sport to begin with. Remember, you are more than the number on your jersey.
- Logan Harland CCPA (student)
To book with Logan call (639)384-7674 or https://www.evolvecounsellingyxe.com/team-3/logan-harland-ccpa