Wow, these have been going on for almost a year now. If you haven’t come across one of these before, be sure to hop on over to Ninja Captain Alex and sign up.
I’m sure I’m not alone in watching a ton of Olympics action lately, and I’ve been struck by something: the cost of being an Olympian. I was watching an interview with a former gymnast from the 1996 games, and in the interview she said they were still paying off credit cards. Sixteen years later and they’re still paying it off.
And that made my heart sink because honestly, only seven girls made that team. You might have noticed the teams are smaller now, just five girls for the women’s competition. Five. We live in a country with right around 300 million people, and we sent five.
Okay, I can hear what you’re saying, at least half of them aren’t even the right gender, and three quarters of those who are left are too old to pursue gymnastic as a career. That drops the number down to 40 million girls who may (or may not) have dreamed to be on the team. Just make the team, mind you, not even medal. Then I immediately thought about that eighth girl, the one who was damned close, but just not good enough to make it. Once you make the Olympics, you’ve already sacrificed and paid for trainers, moved away from home and sacrificed your childhood. And that eighth girl didn’t make it.
In the interview, they asked the gold medal winning Olympian if it was worth it. Of course her answer was yes. I want to ask that eighth girl. Was it worth it? She sacrificed and trained and went to worlds, but was never good enough to take home the gold medal at the Olympics.
Sometimes, I wonder if I’m that eighth girl. I’ve accomplished more than I ever planned to. I’ve come closer than I’d ever hoped to, but is close good enough? Will this all be worth it? I read about great authors who just stick with it forever before landing a contract and an agent (I’m looking at you Beth Revis who had a book go to the acquisitions committee and get turned down). I don’t know if I have that ability to pick up and keep going. Could I suffer the heart break of that eighth girl and still keep to it? Would it have been worth it?
Luckily, this isn’t gymnastics, so I don’t have to drop it all if I miss on the first run up. Gymnasts need to be young to make the Olympics, so they have one, maybe two shots at it. But with writing, I can have as many chances as I want or need. How many times can I survive being the eighth girl? How many times can I brush up against my dreams and be turned around and sent back to the keyboard?
Do I have it in me? I don’t know, but I’m finding out.