Thursday, February 6, 2014

Olympic-size Dreams

As the Olympics draw near, I’m reminded of an old Glen Campbell song (stay with me, you'll see the comparison.)

In Glen's song, “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife”, the lyrics from the 1968 hit, “Such are the dreams of the everyday housewife, you see everywhere any time of the day, an everyday housewife who gave up the good life for me,” make me think of all the dreams and goals women have given up over the years.

We all grow up with dreams for our future.  They might be as simple as having a certain number of children, a dream job, living in endless sunshine, becoming a professional athlete... something, somewhere along the line, becomes a dream of what your life will be like when you "grow up."

Then “life” gets in the way.  Yes, some dreams are achieved, but many fall by the wayside. And even if we are able to pursue our dreams without a hundred obstacles getting in the way, one little thing can derail us in a second.  A heartless comment.  A bad day.  The gnawing feeling of failure.  It can all make us second-guess why we think we can succeed where others have failed.

Now, think of the athletes from every country competing at the Olympics.  The elite.  The best.  And all but one in each event could easily perceive themselves as a “loser.”  It’s hard to believe they’d think that way, yet many do.

In a study, Olympic silver medalists are generally less happy than Bronze medalists. Crazy, right?  It's the way they look at the results – the silver medalist just missed first place, while the bronze medalist is happy because they received a medal at all.

How can someone who has worked so hard, given up years of their life to hone their athletic skill, feel that way?  These are people who don’t give up.  “Quit” is not in their vocabulary. And they’ve done everything possible to reach for their dream.

That in itself is success. We also have people who’ve fought for the future even though they themselves won’t benefit.  Look at the upcoming Olympics.  There wouldn’t (finally!) be a women’s ski jumping event if it wasn't for the women before this, fighting for equal rights in sports. Canada's Katie Willis is one of the many women who fought for the sport to become an Olympic event.  And although she has retired from the sport (at the ripe old age of twenty-two) she’ll be cheering for the women who will make history this year in the event.

In life, we all feel down at times.  We have a bad day, things look like they’ll never be “up” for us again, and it’s easy to throw your hands up and say “I give up.”  Or, we do succeed at something, and then we keep setting the bar higher until our expectations are unrealistic.  When do we look at ourselves as a "success"???

And at what point do we give up on our dreams?  Have you given up on yours?

What is YOUR "ski jump"?  Mine is writing.  I can't stop—nor do I want to. What about you? Have you given up on something you wish you wouldn't have?  What stopped you from achieving your dream?  And is it too late?