Everybody knows that this blog is specifically for getting the work of my campaign in front of the world. This includes my victories, my failures, my struggles and my joy as I work my butt off trying to win that single coveted spot on the US Olympic Sailing Team for Rio in 2016. I love my adventure, and I really enjoy sharing it with you. Over the past week I have been dealing with something in my life that has overshadowed my sailing and really every moment of my days.
Just less than a week ago I received news that a friend of mine was found dead in his house. While the details are not important, my friend Wesley ended his life way too early.
I have known Wesley for several years through sailing. His younger brother is one of the reasons I continued sailing Optimists competitively and pushed myself to always sail smarter. Over the years, I have had opportunities to talk with Wesley and on several occasions sail with him. This summer, we had been crewing on a T10 at EWYC.
Looking back, there was nothing that stood out about Wesley’s mood or attitude. I really did not know there was anything wrong. That being said, I have come to realize that it is always a good idea to tell people in your life that you care about them and that they are important to you. It is shocking that someone in our world can feel alone or depressed when there is so much out there to shine light into our lives. We all…I am responsible to be that light to people that are in my life!
My sailing program which consists of a two boat campaign; VIPER F16 for the Youth World Championships and NACRA17 for the Olympic Games, is an aggressive program to run for anyone. At 16 years old, I am dealing with the stress of high school, the anxiety of thinking about college and my future career, friends, girls, cars and all the typical stressors that teenagers all around the globe are dealing with. I have chosen a path that adds tremendous athletic stress to my life and I can tell you that the political and athletic opponent stress of an Olympic campaign is not easy for an adult to handle, let alone a teenager trying to find his place in the world!
My parents can tell you that I do not always deal with my stress well. Times come when I feel overwhelmed with rage, or fear, or anxiety or frustration to the point that I just don’t want to go on any longer. I lash out, I speak without thinking and say things I don’t mean, I cry. But all of those outlets (plus a lot of talking to family and friends) allow me to vent my emotions and to begin to realize what my real issues are, and how I can work through them to continue to blaze my path towards the goals you are all so kind to help me achieve!
I am not really sure why I am writing this. I guess it is clear that there are a ton of stressors in my life. There are a ton in every teenagers life. I am just angry at myself that I did not realize sooner that I may be the only opportunity for someone to see a reason to press through their stress for one more day and be more verbal and open to those people in my life that may need a pat on the back or a simple word of appreciation each time I see them.
Wesley has taught me that there is never a bad time to say “I care” and “you are important to me” and so I am committed to add phrases like that into my interactions with people and to focus on the great things that are abundant in my life rather than the things that stress me out. I think we all need to remember every day that our smile may be the only thing that keeps someone going until tomorrow.
Smile on and tell those around you how much they mean to you!
I hope to see you on the water soon.