Life after being a college athlete can be tough to navigate.
After retiring –– because of age, choice, or, like many, college-graduation –– athletes often experience feelings of loss, depression, anxiety and/or an inability to find their next passion. This is all too true for me.
What do student-athletes do after they’ve graduated college? Well, the 98% that don’t go on to play their sport professionally have to get jobs just like everyone else. Here’s what’s crazy about that though –– for many student-athletes graduating college, they have little to no job experience. And when I say ‘no job experience’, I mean nothing –– not even a part-time bagger at a grocery store.
I had never had a job, because I never had time to. As I searched for my first job out of college, it didn’t matter to employers that I had been a college-athlete –– I had zero experience. When I had graduated, I felt like I had been pushed out of a moving train with nothing but the clothes on my back and a blank resume. I needed a job… but where?
That’s when my anxiety started.
Ultimately I used what skills I had developed as an athlete, and worked really, really hard to find a career I liked and I fought my way into it. But since that initial transitional shock, my anxiety about my career has continued to haunt me. I am constantly aware of the little voice inside my head telling me that I am a fraud and don’t have the skills or experience to do my job. Even after 7 year in the industry, my anxiety continues to cut my successes down.
Since my graduation, it’s also been difficult finding things I can stick to. Since graduating in 2011:
- I got really into make-up for about a year which, if you know me, is hilarious
- I started powerlifting, then transitioned to running, then did nothing for a long time, then did some strongman, then did some yoga….
- I started writing 4 books, but only got to about the 5th chapter in each
- I’ve started and deleted 3 blogs before this one
- I’ve had ideas for about 7 different companies I want to start, even a few I started actually making out plans for
- I bought a lot of things at thrift stores and tried to sell them on EBay
- I started trying to sell my crafts… but didn’t actually have time to make any crafts to sell
- I got really into baking things for bit
You get the point –– I was (still am sometimes) all over the place. Not only are these things off-the-wall-different, the point is that I was basically trying to do all of these simultaneously, on top of my full-time career and personal life. At the time this was happening, I loved my job and Bri and I were busy planning our wedding –– this was a great time for us and I was really happy. However, there was still something missing. I was trying everything I possibly could to try and fill the void of softball –– and it wasn’t working. The inability to find a new passion was, and is, extremely frustrating and causes me even more anxiety about my future.
There are still a lot of things that I have to work through, including the loss of it all, but I am getting better every day. The existence of this blog is actually one of ways I am doing that. This year, I laid out resolutions for myself –– not only for 2019, but for my years to come. I took a hard look at my life and made sure to respectfully acknowledge the things that I was holding on to, and those that I would need to develop in order to support my mental and physical being.
I miss being an athlete, but I’m also really excited for the non-athlete part of my life. There are a lot of things I am looking forward to, but I have to acknowledge that in order for me to do so, I will need to figure out how to continue working through the mental and emotional hurdles I am experiencing.
To all of my fellow former athletes: I am here for you, and I feel your pain. There are so many us who feel exactly like you do. There are so many of us who were heart-broken at the loss of camaraderie, challenge and sense-of-purpose. There are so many of us who felt (or still feel) lost. But, there are also so many of us who are here for you and willing to help in any way we can. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you need someone to talk to.
This is the second part of a full post. To read the first part, click here!